In the artist’s hands of Gerhard Wagner, the smallest piece of wood becomes a magnificent pen
The workshop on the ground floor of his house in Saint-Révérien lets nothing show, but it is nevertheless there that Gerhard Wagner expresses his art to create pens from simple pieces of wood.
Today, his creations, all unique pieces, are sold in 82 countries including Russia, China, the United States, Canada, South Africa, France and Brazil. He will even make some from the falls of the plane trees on the Promenade des Halles de Decize that have been felled recently.
Gerhard Wagner is a professional life with many chapters. At home in Germany, he worked for fifteen years as a high-tech engineer for an automotive supplier. « We made parts for prototype cars and for motorsport. » At the same time, he played guitar, acoustic and electric, and performed on stage with a band. “It was more rock music. »
The artist makes handcrafted pens, including a series in plane tree wood from the Promenade des Halles, in Decize.
But professionally, he no longer flourishes and drops everything. He left to learn violin making in Spain before returning to his lands where he opened a guitar shop, coupled with a repair workshop. The adventure will last eight years. “In the meantime, at the end of 1997, I had bought a first house in France, near Argenton-sur-Creuse, in Indre. A madness, but it cost me next to nothing. »
» Thunderbolt «
“At the end of 2000, I got a bit fed up with my business, even though it was doing well. But it was not my dream”. He sells everything, including the stores bought with two friends and settles in Argenton-sur-Creuse. At the same time, he buys a farmhouse there which he restores himself. But it is expensive and must be resolved to sell the first house.
« I remember this little boy who broke his piggy bank to afford one of my 150 € pens »
Life passes, but it misses the wood. “I then bought a lathe on which I made my first two pens which I gave to my family. This work was like love at first sight”. But why pens more than the violin making in which he trained? “Because violin making wasn’t creative enough. We were just responding to a request. With pens, I can express myself. »
In the Nièvre, he found the tranquility he was looking for. His creations are known all over the world and there is no shortage of beautiful orders. For example, in 2015 he responded to a request to create three pop art-style pens for an Andy Warhol exhibition in the United States. « It took five hours of work per pen. » He also created one for a museum in Japan. Thanks to the talents of an artist, he was able to embed the drawing of a geisha on the background of Mount Fuji. There’s also this $1,200 model, inlaid with a dried flower and gold leaf, made especially for a Texan. A creation that required twenty-five hours of work. “It was a real challenge”. And to add this beautiful memory that marked him a lot: “I remember this little boy who broke his piggy bank to buy one of my pens for €150. »
Old floorboards, piano keys in ebony or ivory, elm burls, remains of a beam from a 16th century castle, whatever. He will know how to make works of art out of them.