We are so excited to announce Gien as one of our partners for the May Blue & White My Stylish French Box! Learn more about this historic brand and how the faïence is made:
For nearly two hundred years, the Faïencerie de Gien has been making French faïence pieces, inspired by the English savoir-faire brought by the company’s founder Thomas Hall. Initially located in Paris’s 3rd arrondissement, the company changed hands and names many times before settling in Gien, in the Loire Valley, ideally situated along the Loire River and with all the resources needed to create the faïence pieces.
So what exactly is faïence? It’s a type of pottery covered with a white, shiny and opaque glaze, making it the ideal surface for bright and colorful designs. The kiln needs to be able to burn at temperatures above 1000*C to produce the desired final result. At Gien, the pieces are fired at 1160*C, then again at 1060*C once they’ve been glazed, so the glaze vitrifies and becomes hard and shiny. The recipes for the clay, plaster and glaze used at Gien are all kept secret, and it takes a careful mixture of 14 different kinds of earth to create their faïence.
Each Gien piece passes by 30 different craftspeople, all with at least 20 years of experience each. It’s this savoir-faire that makes Gien’s pieces stand out, and have helped them withstand the test of time. While all their pieces are beautiful, it’s the hand-painted pieces like vases and lamps that are truly the most spectacular.
The company today makes all manner of tableware, from plates to bowls to pitchers, as well as scented candles, held of course in their beautiful faïence goblets. They hold the label EPV, which mean Entreprise de Patrimoine Vivant, a mark of recognition from the state for exceptional traditional know-how.