An artisan’s back story fascinates me, in particular, the ones that are unlikely, quirky or unexpected. There’s an artist in France, a son who cared for his ailing father until his death when the son turned thirty. His father was a photographer, his mother a painter, and the father’s film enlarger still sits quietly on a side table in the son’s home. The son studied art history and began his profession as a curator and freelance journalist. He met his wife at a perfume store, yet he had no interest in the scents, only to pursue this woman he loved. They married that next year after his father died and moved into a Parisian apartment to live and work together. A son was born that subsequent year, and the father’s film enlarger still stands guard over this carefully curated life of a man and his love, Donatienne, plus their baby boy.
Meet Samuel Gassmann, artisan and storyteller. It was his research for a documentary film study on the history of buttons that led him to design cufflinks and an eponymous design label was born, Samuel Gassmann Paris. A most wondrous journey unfolded from these obscure little multi-colored discs, all because Gassman wanted “to produce a button, just to be able to understand it.” Gassmann’s entire production is done by hand, his hands, one at a time, creating rebirths of tiny symbolic materials of the past.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
– John Wooden
To understand Samuel Gassmann and these infinitesimal symbols which impassion him, I curated a collection of buttons, sorting and culling down to a handful of sublime specimens. The lore of the artisan hides here in the unraveling of the obscure where unexpected fairy tales are born. If you know of a local artisan or small-batch craftsperson with an unexpected story, please share it with me. I would love to bring his or her story into the light at Following Breadcrumbs. Please contact me by e-mail found in About Me.