Laguiole, in France, is almost a common name to design a solid knife that hunters and farmers traditionally took with them to eat their lunch out in the woods, or out the field, cut their meat, cut some branches to prepare a fire, pull out some mushrooms for dinner, carve a stick to walk...
But above all, Laguiole and especially les FORGE DE LAGUIOLE is the guarantee for high quality knives made traditionally, by skilled artisans in France in the Laguiole village. Like the Piaget watch, it's something that your son will inherit, and his son too, and the son of his son and ... (too bad if your family is a long line of daughters. Ask your wife to buy some shoes or Hermes and Chanel bags, and Piaget watches too. Ha ! Ha ! ) Sorry, let's get serious.
How it all started...
The story begin in 1828, when Mr. Casimir Antoine Moulin set up his forge and cutlery business in Laguiole.
The first knives were the "Laguiole Droit" models (Straight Laguiole) with a forced notch. The blade had a Boubonnaise shape with a centered point.
Between 1850 and 1860, the current shape of the Laguiole appeared and became gradually refined. The blade curved up slightly.
Since the 1820's, all the cutters located in Laguiole used to forge the blades and the springs of their knives by hand. The steel comes from Pyrenees and Tarn regions.
In 1909, the first bee appeared on Laguiole knives. The ivory handles we carved and sculpted in various forms - horse hooves, rattlesnake tails, butterflies rams head... New knives appeared during the Edwardian and the Art Nouveau eras, their handles made from ivory carved with for example the head of Napoleon, Joan of Arc or Venus. The First World War meant the disappearance of the cutleries in Laguiole. From the end of this conflict, most of Laguiole knives would be produced in Thiers. Only three craftsmen were producing small amounts in Laguiole itself.
In 1987, a group of councillors reintroduced the manufacture of this famous knife in its home : it is the return of the Laguiole knife to the place of its birth and the creation of FORGE DE LAGUIOLE.
The manufacturing of a Laguiole knife is a complex process that involves many essential steps. It's a product, an object shaped meticulously from start to finish by the admirable expertise of cutlery masters whose skills are equal to goldsmiths and watchmakers when it comes to sculpting, polishing, etching, stamping and riveting.. all these words and skills, all these senses timelessly reproduced to give birth to the knife. The cutler's hands and the materials used make each knife unique.
From the outset, FORGE DE LAGUIOLE has worked to develop its manufacturing skills with respect for traditional know-how. Once a knife used locally, it has now become a cult object, a design benchmark and a synonym of the French art of living and of the French gastronomy listed world as an intangible heritage by Unesco.
As an object representing continuity and solidarity with the past or as a statement of contemporary creativity, Laguiole cutlery continues to inspire designers : Philippe Stark, Andree Putman, Ora-Ito, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Hilton McConico, Christian Ghion, Matali Grasset,
The process of fabrication...
The steel is heated until it is cherry red and will be forged while hot to allow the creation of the legendary sharp blades. The forging combined with the tempering result in a blade with a perfect cutting edge. The blades are then shaped, pierced, and given their V edge angle.
The handle creation :
The handle is made from different materials. The most traditional are horn, precious wood or bone. The most precious are mother of pearl, coral, ivory and mammoth molar. The materials are cut by hand, each material being carefully selected.
Chiselling and carving :
In the past, each craftsman used to sculpt a pattern which represented his inspiration and reflected his talent. Many older models were decorated with the scallop shell carried by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, four-leaf clovers and animal heads. The bee became the standard decoration for FORGE DE LAGUIOLE. Each knife made with a bee is hand chiselled in the traditional manner.
Here, the artisan gives to the knife its definitive shape. Each model is unique, Each knife takes several hours, sometimes several days to make. Every piece is assembled and finished by hand from start to finish by a single artisan.
At this stage, the knife is assembled. Each part is going to be polished by hand on discs made from cotton or linen.
The last step in the manufacturing process consists in sharpening the blade.
Nowadays, FORGE DE LAGUIOLE propose a wide range of creations : art knives, unique pieces, hunting knives, cheese knives, butter knives, pipe tools, cigar cutters, letter openers, golf knives, tables knives, sommelier knives...and even made to measure.
At Lemongrass & Aubergine, we carry the sommeliers and cigar cutters but we can order the one Laguiole you were dreaming of (unfortunately no Hermes bags in stock !)