About Julien LE GUEN

My name is Julien Le Guen. I was born on November 20, 1987 in Blanc-Mesnil, near Paris. When I was 10 years old, my parents moved to Brittany and more particularly to a small village called Saint-Jean-La-Poterie in the Morbihan.

Je commence à m’intéresser à l’art du Bonsaï à l’âge de 17 ans, passion que je pratique toujours en étant membre du club « Auprès de mon arbre » de Saint-Jean-La-Poterie. Plus tard, associer un arbre à un pot de ma fabrication sera l’un de mes rêves.

C’est pourquoi, en 2008, je rejoins l’atelier « La Girelle » à Malansac (56220) où Thérèse Terral propose des cours tous niveaux.

My very first piece made with the modeling technique.

L’année suivante, la municipalité de Saint-Jean-La-Poterie souhaite créer une association autour de la poterie. C’est donc tout naturellement que j’y adhère et, en septembre 2009, « Terre de Potiantes » est née.

L’association vise à promouvoir la poterie grâce aux cours dispensés par plusieurs animatrices et lors d’un événement festif accompagné d’un marché de potiers : « La Fête des Lises« .

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the trainers who helped me acquire different techniques: Thérèse Terral, Héloïse Audry, Sophie Esquénazi, Majo Depoilly and Sophie Blanchard.

These years spent in this association lead me to perfect my skills in the basic techniques of pottery: modeling, slabs, colombin, sculpture. I missed the technique of throwing and my few one-day courses were insufficient to reach an acceptable technical level.

The click

In 2016, my partner and I decided to get married in 2017. I set myself the goal of giving each of the guests (about 200) a small turned cup as a gift!

After a one-week training course at the CNIFOP, an essential training center, I set to work. The objective is reached, with the satisfaction of beautiful successful firings and in spite of the disappointments of a whole oven to throw away.

Julien LE GUEN
Julien LE GUEN during a shooting demonstration in Sixt-en-Fête in 2019.

The search for enamels

Parallèlement, je me passionne pour la fabrication des émaux. Ma formation dans le domaine de la chimie et mon stage de 5 mois à Houston (USA) dans un laboratoire de recherche de la NASA me permettent de développer mon esprit scientifique et ma rigueur afin d’appréhender le monde des glaçures. J’étudie méticuleusement plusieurs livres et notamment l’ouvrage de Daniel de Montmollin : « Pratique des émaux de grès« , une bible ! Livre indispensable à quiconque veut travailler autour des émaux de grès.
Le document de formation mis à disposition par Yvon Le Douget sur son site est tout aussi remarquable.

Raw materials and some small materials bought, I discover interesting effects. Not wanting to stop there, I decided to acquire a more substantial equipment, a furnace, in order to continue the hundreds of tests already undertaken. I hope to find many more.

Enamels already developed.

I am very interested in glazes made from ashes. And incredibly, the ashes of different plants are all made up of the same elements, in different proportions, that we need to make our glazes!

The objective of this research around ashes is linked to my other passion which is Bonsai.

Thus, I wish to be able to admire one day a tree whose essence composes the 3 elements of presentation: imagine an oak tree exposed on an oak shelf, in a pot enamelled with oak ashes!

The choice of the oven

J’expérimente les cuissons à gaz lors de nombreuses cuissons raku avec l’association « Terre de Potiantes« . A l’occasion de la Fête des Lises, je réalise également quelques cuissons au bois.

In spite of these exciting firings and probably closer to the image that we have of the potter's work around the fire, I choose the electric kiln. Why did I choose the electric kiln? The answer is not very complicated and I will not hide.

The three main reasons for this choice are:

The ease: you press the button and come back X hours later to observe the result.

Lack of time: having experienced them, gas and wood cooking are very time-consuming during the cooking process, time that I do not have enough, due to another professional activity.

Repeatability: whatever one may say, glazes from electric firings will be more faithful in their repetitions compared to gas or wood firings. This is an important element when searching for glazes.

This choice was made at the time when I was dividing my time between pottery and my job as an employee. But since the end of 2022, when I decided to devote myself fully to pottery, I plan, in addition to the electric kiln, to build a wood kiln.

The journey

We are leaving in July 2021 for a year, with my daughter Jade and my wife Nathalie, to travel around the world. One of my objectives will be to meet potters and thus be able to exchange with them, see their way of working...

Julien in Panama
In Panama, in the region of Chitré, I practice the walking tour, a first for me.
oven in costa rica
A wood-fired kiln at a potter's workshop in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
meeting with Robert Wallace
One of the most beautiful meetings was with Robert WALLACE. He lives near Columbus in the USA. He is a Bonsai enthusiast and, like me, makes Bonsai pots.
Meeting with TOBI, a potter specialized in the imitation of pieces of the Nazca period, in Nazca in Peru.
old oven in Cambodia
In Cambodia, in the region of Kampong Chhnang, at the bend of a ballad with 3 on our scooter, we discover this old immense oven of 40 m length!
walking tour Cambodia
Still in Cambodia, in the region of Kampong Chhnang, we meet a potter's family and I can again practice the wheel, a second time after Panama.
dragon oven
In Thailand, in Chiang Mai, we visit an old pottery factory, specialized in particular in the rice bowl decorated with rooster, in which we discover an enormous dragon oven, unused today because of the pollution generated by the cookings. Discovery which did not leave me indifferent.
potters new delhi
In India, in New Delhi, we go to the district of Kumar gran which gathers not less than 800 potter families. It would be the largest concentration of potters in the world!
associative workshop
In Jordan, between Wadi Rum and Petra, we meet an associative workshop managed by women. We stop there and it will be the occasion for me to help them to repair their oven.
production Namibia
Then comes Africa with Namibia and a production along the road.
family Namibia
Another beautiful meeting with this family of potters.

The beginning of the professional adventure

When we returned from our trip, I wished to resume my job and switch to part-time work in order to develop my professional pottery activity smoothly, part-time work that was refused.

For several months, years, I have always had an anxiety, a fear. I want to be able to say, when I'm on my deathbed, that my life has been successful, that my dreams have been fulfilled or, at least, that I will have done what it takes to try to live them! I don't want to waste my life enriching a boss or shareholders that I don't even know, without getting any recognition for it.

I have therefore made the firm choice to devote myself fully to pottery and I hope that one day I will be recognized for the quality of my creations. I am also hopeful that some of my creations will survive me, which will allow me to leave a modest trace in the history of mankind, but a trace nonetheless!

Julien LE GUEN