In an age when mass production rules the roost and the customer is almost seen as a necessary evil, it is refreshing to meet a craftsman who not only loves what he does but treats each project as a special one and each client as an individual.
The man sitting here, on a brief break from his work, is passionate about working with wood. His name is Eddy Laurence and he is a carpenter and proud of it.
Coming from a family of contractors, Laurence knew early on what he wanted to do with his life, and he took his work seriously from the beginning – which in his case was learning the craft at the Lycée Polyvalent.
“We had a teacher who was very strict,” he says. It’s a description not often used as a compliment, but even as a teenager, Laurence knew the value of hard work and learning.
On leaving school he was unable to start working as a carpenter immediately, so he took two jobs to bring in some money, and when the time as right he launched the career that has made him a popular and sought-after tradesman.
It’s not a glamorous profession and he has no artistic pretensions, but he takes a pride in such prosaic tasks as making kitchen cabinets from scratch, or hurricane shutters, tables and chairs.
“If a pregnant lady tells me she wants a rocking chair to nurse her child, I can do that,” he says.
A caring craftsman, he particularly enjoys working with pine for two reasons: “It gives a beautiful finish and my blade goes through it easily.”
As happy working for prestigious hotels as for private clients, Laurence enjoys a challenge.
“Sometimes you find yourself with a client who is very demanding,” he says, “and that can bring out the best in you.”
By Chris Morvan