Meet the Author (and Illustrator): Maurice Pommier

Maurice Pommier, in his workshop. Photo by Brian Anderson.

[Editor’s note: We recently reached out for an interview with Maurice Pommier, author and illustrator of “Grandpa’s Workshop” (translated by Brian Anderson – you can read about Brian’s visit to see Maurice and his workshop in 2012 here). Maurice lives in Évreux, France, and speaks little English. But he responded, in the most generous way – an illustrated letter. Here are his words, as he wrote them without edits from us, along with a handful of illustrations, sketches and pictures to help paint a small picture of who Maurice is and some of the brilliant work he has done.]

I am not very able to speak of me. I am born in 1946.

My mother was dressmaker. She worked hard, early morning and late evening.

My father, alive but broken by the nazis.

We lived in a little village, Peyrat de Bellac. I go to school and after I was boarder at collège in the nearby town.

I thank life for having put in my company a lot of great people – I can not name them all. I choose three, the others do not be dissatisfied.

Tonton Dédé, the best, with working with tools and with his hands.

Pépé Léonard, the best storyteller. When he stop speaking, he was whistling.

Mémé Anna.

I think I’ve been drawing since I know how is made a pencil.

In 1968, I married Francine, she supports me since that date. We live in Évreux. We had three children and now four grandchildren; I worked at the Post Office for a long time. But I did not stop drawing.

Xavier Josset

My friend Xavier Josset has been presenting my first book to a publisher, me, I would have never been there.

After things changed, I left the Post Office, but I continued to draw and scribble. And write stories. In the following pages I enclose a small catalog of my bad habits.
J’espère ne pas être ennuyeux.


Maurice’s drawing workshop


Drawings & Colors

Some pictures made when I work in the team of Guides Gallimard.

“Moulin Richard de Bas, Ambert,” the oldest paper mill in France (watercolor)
“Rosace, tracé régulateur,” Cathédrale St Guy, Prague
François Calame, creator of Carpenters Without Borders, is a friend. I had the chance to make shavings and sawdust in his company.
The Tithe Barn of Daubeuf-la-Campagne (La grange aux dîmes de Daubeuf la Campagne)

Originally the barn was built with five bays. It was later extended to the south with five further bays. The barn is oriented north to south in its length. The drawing here shows the older part of the barn. The cross-frames, the main purlins and the bracing are shown, but for clarity, the rafters and the intermediate purlins are omitted. The doors, which have undergone several alterations over the course of the barnʼs history, have also been omitted.

La grange était constituée à son origine par 5 travées. Par la suite elle fut agrandie vers le sud, par 5 travées nouvelles. La construction est orientée nord/sud. Voici un petit schéma décrivant la charpente la plus ancienne. Il montre les travées, les fermes et le contreventement, pour plus de clarté, les chevrons n’ont pas été dessinés, ainsi qu’une partie des pannes. Les portes, modifiées ou crées au cours de son histoire, ne sont pas représentées non plus.

— “Daubeuf Workshop Diary,” p. 11, Carpenters Without Borders, (ink + sweat …)
“An Able Seaman” (pen + brush + ink)
illustration from “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, illustrated by Maurice Pommier, Ch. 41, (Hachette-Jeunesse, Paris, 2001) (watercolor + pen + ink)
illustration from “Le Sac Du Mousse” by Maurice Pommier, (La Martinière Groupe, Paris, 2004) (watercolor + pen + ink)
illustration from “Le Sac Du Mousse” by Maurice Pommier, (La Martinière Groupe, Paris, 2004)  (watercolor + pen + ink)



“The Book of Tobit,” papercut (paper + X-Acto knife – “impossible to erase, no repentance …”
“St. Nicolas & Pierre le Noir,” papercut (paper + X-Acto knife)
“St. Nicolas & Pierre le Noir,” papercut (paper + X-Acto knife)
“The genies of the fields and woods that accompanied St. Nicolas; as they were a source of disorder, the religious authorities forbade them.”


Tools & Wood

Simon (6 years old), my last grandson, says: “Pépé make me a crossbow!”
“My woodwork shop, it’s a mess! I know, it’s the same thing in my drawing workshop. But I love old tools. My friend Loïc says: ‘Maurice, to find room, you’ll have to push the walls!'”
My toolbox, less beautiful than Christopher’s.
Small model of a trestle born of my passion for roofing geometry – en français, “l’art du Trait.” One of the essential skills of the French carpenters.
Patrick Macaire

My current job, under Patrick’s direction. I met Patrick Macaire a few years
ago and since, in my drawing workshop, there is a struggle for space between little pieces of wood and drawings.

P. 93

Gros plan sur le tracé de la saillie de l’arêtier en plan.
Gros plan sur le tracé de la queue de vache sur l’élévation de l’arêtier.

Tracés théoriques qui ne seront pas repris intégralement à l’épure (Theoretical plots that will not be fully included in the sketch)


P. 99

Jambe de force
La jambe de force peut s’établir en prolongeant sa face inférieure jusqu’au lattis et en reportant son niveau sur la ferme de croupe et de l’arêtier; puis, en plan, en générant une sablière d’emprunt (au niveau de la ligne de trave) et en la faisant tourner à l’axe. Vérification en générant un faîtage d’emprunt au niveau de la dalle et en faisant tourner: les trois points doivent s’aligner.

We are finishing the Deuxième carnet – it’s been 7 years since we are working on these two notebooks.

For carpenters, the rabbit is the apprentice – he has big legs to run fast and big ears to hear everything.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

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20 Responses to Meet the Author (and Illustrator): Maurice Pommier

  1. Tony Zaffuto says:

    An absolutely most enjoyable way to begin a day, reading/looking at these works of art and the words! Thanks!

  2. Helen says:

    Fabulous! What a beautiful way to start my day.

    Thank you for posting this.

  3. pfollansbee says:

    Maurice is a treasure. I first heard (& saw) his work when he sent some drawings of pitsawing & riving to me, after having seen something similar on my blog. I got his book in French, sent some to Chris, who said “we’re already working on a translation…” Maurice’s drawings & one of his papercuts have pride of place on my workshop walls. They always make me smile.

  4. MIke Cundall says:

    Great post. Full stop.

  5. Dr. Gary D. Niehaus says:

    Such a delight! An introduction to a sharing, friendly, talented new acquaintance is a delightful way to start the day. Thank you for the introduction.

  6. Ozan says:

    Pommier means apple tree in french. All the “M” letters from his signature are drawn like apples

  7. Michael Mavodones says:

    I’ve bought three copies of Grampa’s Workshop, one for each household for my grandchildren, and one for me.

  8. chucknickerson says:

    Giants walk among us without being seen. Thanks for helping me see.

  9. J’adore that Moby-Dick illustration. Obviously.

  10. Len says:

    What a remarkable man.

  11. JWW says:

    This is a fantastic post.
    I also bought a copy of Grandpa’s Workshop, but haven’t been able to give to any grandchildren yet!

  12. nrhiller says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, Kara! It’s a delightful portrait that has made me think about Grandpa’s Workshop in new ways, as a result of which I’ll be buying some copies for young friends.

  13. eaia says:

    Fascinating! Great illustrations and that sawbench is wonderful in design.

  14. saucyindexer says:

    Bravo, Maurice!

  15. Maurice says:

    Merci à tous pour vos bonnes pensées.

    • Ozan says:

      J’aime beaucoup votre signature Monsieur Pommier. Est-ce que le “P” est un arbre ou bien est-ce juste mon immagination ?

      Bonne journée

  16. Maurice says:

    C’est bien un arbre, aussi dans mon imagination:-)

  17. LiamEno says:

    Great artwork of this guy! I was thinking about he can made the logo of my workshop!

  18. David says:

    Merveilleux! E puis M. Pommier has some nice axes…

Comments are closed.