A good friend of mine passed away a couple of days ago. Jean Claude Manner. I am not sure how old he was but he did tell me he was captured by the Nazis in the early 1940′s and forced to work in a factory brazing plumbing when he was a boy.
When WW2 ended he returned to France and went to engineering school to become a metal fabricator. He understood engineering but valued beauty a great deal more.
I was intimidated a bit when I first met Jean Claude. It was his way to refuse to speak to someone unless introduced. He was sitting in a chair in the studio of a local craftsman. I can say I remembered not meeting him. Later, we met again when someone brought him to my shop.
It took me a while to figure him out once he started coming around. He was a man with a great deal of respect for his culture and the way people communicate with each other. He existed within our system of ideals while maintaining his own European identity. He also like to mess with your head with his French sense of humor (though I am sure it was his own)
For me it wasn’t easy because he would visit me at work when I really like to stay on task and not be Mr. Social. I told him at one point that I had studied French so when we would meet, we would exchange greetings in French.
Jean Claude created things of incredable beauty. He could work with any material and I will go on to say he was a craftsman who could find the beauty in any piece of material. Those who make things will identify with this rare quality. To Jean Claude, it was all art and some just didn’t see it.
I have had others in my life who’s significance wasn’t fully realized until it was too late. I guess that is just how it goes.
Anyway, JC, Ill miss you man. Rest in peace.