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Photo: Stephanie LeBlanc
Germany has offered to cover the costs of restoring Notre Dame’s upper windows.

Since the horrendous fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, lots of ideas for rebuilding have been put forth and numerous groups have volunteered assistance.

This post is about two of those offers: from German glass makers and from Carpenters Without Borders. I’m glad I’m not the one who has to choose among all the ideas. People get emotional about Notre Dame.

In an article at the Art Newspaper, Catherine Hickley wrote, “A year after the devastating fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, Germany has put forward concrete proposals for its role in the reconstruction including funds from the government and donors and expertise in stained glass and cathedral restoration.

“A fund-raising campaign launched in Germany a day after the fire has raised more than [$51,000 as of April 15] according to a statement issued by Armin Laschet, the prime minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Culture Minister Monika Grütters.

‘The reconstruction of Notre-Dame offers an opportunity to become a European symbol of hope,’ Laschet said. ‘For me this reconstruction is also a symbol of German-French friendship.’ …

“The exact scope and nature of Germany’s contribution will be determined in the coming months on the basis of studies on the ground, the statement said, adding that three glass workshops at German cathedrals have the extensive expertise and experience necessary to undertake the restoration of the clerestory windows. Germany would cover the costs of restoring the upper windows, Grütters said.” More.

Meanwhile, in a France24 article, we learn of woodworkers hoping to be allowed to use their traditional techniques in the rebuilding.

“Armed with axes and hand saws, the team of 25 craftsmen and women, who belong to a collective called Carpenters Without Borders, managed to build one of the 25 trusses that made up the wooden roof of Notre-Dame that they say is identical to the original.

” ‘It is a demonstration of traditional techniques on one of the trusses of the framework of the nave of Notre-Dame that serves to show how viable these techniques are from an economic point of view on the one hand and from a technical point of view on the other,’ researcher Frédéric Epaud told AFP.

“Known as ‘the forest’ and built out of vast oak beams, the 800-year-old intricate wooden lattice of Notre-Dame’s knave was completely destroyed in last year’s fire.

“Since then debate has raged over how it should be rebuilt. Some have argued that reconstructing the original roof is impossible as sufficiently old and large enough oak trees no longer exist in France.

“Modern alternatives, such as concrete and steel have been suggested. But Carpenters Without Borders say their work proves the roof can be rebuilt in its original form without huge expense.

” ‘We, in less than a week, with 25 professional carpenters, have entirely built one of the trusses of the nave of Notre-Dame as it was before the fire. One truss, one week,’ the group’s founder and ethnologist at France’s Ministry of Culture, François Calame, told AFP.” More.

An early concept for reconstruction, featuring a glass roof and gardens, is among the many already turned down, and the goal now is to put the cathedral back the way it was. See the Washington Post.

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shutterstock_1372207001

Photo: Shutterstock
The original clock at the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris was destroyed by a conflagration in April.

What is lost can often be found — or a decent replica created. That is the message of a recent story about the clock destroyed by the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. After I read it, I felt curious about the clock expert who realized that a different church had an almost identical clock in storage. So I looked him up. Such discoveries are not ordinarily stumbled on by people with no expertise.

The Catholic News Agency, in an item widely shared last June, reported, “A clock nearly identical to the one destroyed in the fire at Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris has been found in storage. The duplicate was found at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris, in what is being called a ‘miraculous discovery.’ …

“The original clock was located near the cathedral spire, which collapsed during the April 15 fire. It was feared there would be no way to rebuild the clock, as there were no surviving drawings of its mechanism or any digital records of how the clock was made.

“The timepiece’s near-twin was found by clockmaker Jean-Baptiste Viot, during a storage inventory at Holy Trinity. Viot called the find ‘incredible.’ …

“The Church of the Holy Trinity’s original clock was replaced by an electronic model about 50 years ago. The old clock was then put in storage, and was discovered behind a wooden board amid statues and furniture in a small storage room.”

Said Olivier Chandez, who was responsible for maintaining the clock at Notre-Dame, ” ‘If we only had the photos, we would have had to extrapolate. … But with this model, we have all the dimensions.’

“While the clocks are very similar, Chandez said that there are enough differences to prevent restorers from simply inserting Holy Trinity’s clock into the refurbished Notre-Dame.”

Here is some of the information I found on the shard-eyed Jean-Baptiste Viot [J-B Viot].

Born in 1967, he “began his training in watch repair at the Public Watch Making School of Paris in September 1983. After graduating, he went to Switzerland to continue his studies at the Technical School of the Vallée de Joux. … The federal certificate he obtained in June 1988 enabled him to pursue his training with the International Museum of Watchmaking of Chaux de Fonds … resulting, after two further years of study, in a degree in watch restoration. …

“In June 1998, J-B VIOT was hired by Breguet 7 place Vendôme, giving him the chance to return to watch restoration in Paris. Indeed, working on original Breguet movements from the historical period 1775-1840 gave him the opportunity to study this great master from the past. …

“Following the purchase of the firm by the biggest Swiss watchmaking group (Groupe Swatch), J-B decided to devote himself entirely to the restoration of antique watches and clocks.” More here.

I like to imagine how Viot felt when he saw what Trinity had at a time that all Paris was mourning the cathedral.

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