Patrick Moore is a Compagnon Passant Charpentier Canadien L’Ami du Trait Bon Drill de Tour de France, and is the first and currently only person from both American continents to claim that title, having completed the extensive and intense Tour-de-France as well as the completion of his master piece which is currently on permanent exhibition at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, in Montreal, Canada.
Have you ever heard of L’Art du Trait? It is defined as the ability to lay out, cut, and assemble individual pieces of wood or stone into a more complex whole structure. In more concrete terms, the trait encompasses a set of graphic techniques facilitating the production - at a reduced scale or full scale, on paper, on parchment, or even on the ground - of working drawings needed to complete structures in wood or stone. Patrick says that “The best example, using stone, is a vault or arch; in timber, a hip or valley. But these are very simple and limited examples. Though L’Art du Trait is much more than simply laying out hips and valleys.”
We asked Patrick how he became interested in timber framing and L’Art du Trait and he told us “I initially started off in the trades by obtaining a two year diploma in heritage and traditional masonry. Once I had completed my Masonry Diploma and worked in the field for a bit, I enrolled in another two year diploma; The Heritage Carpentry course. Upon completion of this is when it all started. I worked for several Timber Framing companies in Ontario before going to work for a company in Quebec where I met a Carpenter from France who introduced me to the notion of Les Compagnons. I then began my research. To North Americans, Le Compagnonnage is completely foreign, so this was an extremely difficult task. In France you begin your training as an adolescent (usually by 13-14 years of age). I was 22 and from Canada. After many, many email conversations back and forth, VISA applications and proof that I was dedicated to the process, I was finally accepted! When I got to France is when I began learning the fascinating concept of L’art du Trait.
When we asked Patrick to describe the difference between the French and North American processes of timber framing, he replied, ”There is a massive difference, perhaps subtle to the untrained eye, in the process and mindset of timber framing in France (Europe in general) and in North America. In my opinion, the biggest and most influential is the history, culture, attitude, and mindset of the society at large towards the craft and the people who work in the industry. This in turn, influences how timber frames and construction in general, are processed. In order to better understand these differences, I would suggest first to do a comparative study in the history and culture of carpentry, and society at large, through the ages in Europe and in North America.
In general, French carpenters receive much more formal education, and in fact, are required to do so to operate a legitimate business. There are obviously pros and cons, but one of the upsides is they have a much deeper and better understanding of timber framing and process.”
Patrick Moore is also founder of The Professional School of Practical Stereotomy. He describes the school as “a professional school unique in the English speaking world, where students are given experience in the application of the historic, time-tested techniques of practical stereotomy – L’Art du Trait. Stereotomy employs working drawings to design and construct structures both simple and complex. It has been used for millennia in the design and construction of European cathedrals, fortresses, castles, including historically classified UNESCO world heritage monuments such as the cathedral of Chartres. Students, therefore, become knowledgeable through hands-on experience of a process which makes the most complex designs very manageable. In truth, the experience of this approach develops in students the capacity to see differently, expanding their horizon and enhancing skills they already possess. Consequently, students will become able to undertake projects they previously found intimidating or too complex to attempt.”
The models produced by Patricks’ students look very intricate. We asked Patrick how he leads his students to accomplish the end result. He told us that he teaches them “Literally, step-by-step. The projects may look very complex and challenging, but in fact, are quite simple. We walk our students through each task project using previously learned information. By constantly and consistently adding new information to each task, the student always learns and grows to the point where they can do it themselves. The end result, students become autonomous free-creative thinkers with the ability to design and conceive ideas crystal clear in their own mind first. They are not limited to any preconceived notions or systems that limit thought and creation. The student becomes a master of their own visual-spatial mind.”
Patrick says that currently the most challenging hurdle for his school to overcome is “simply awareness. For people to know that this knowledge exists. It’s a daily and constant challenge that requires a lot of time and energy.” But as the only professional school in the English speaking world that offer Stereotomy – Art du Trait courses, the school offers a “full-fledged program and curriculum, where students can obtain two professional certificates and up to a master’s certificate.”
Along with establishing the school, Patrick has been involved in many diverse projects, such as works done on Classified Historical Monuments, UNESCO World Heritage sites, non-classified historical monuments and new building projects. We asked him if he incorporates L’art du trait into his designs for contemporary structures. He answered, “Stereotomy – Art du Trait is not something that can or can’t be incorporated into a design or structure. Anyone designing, constructing, or thinking in 3D, uses notions of Stereotomy. More precisely, stereotomy is a way of obtaining real lengths and angles for lay out. Mastering the ability to think, draw, and lay out in 3D, helps the individual to understand 3D space in order for a design to be clear in your own mind. Simply put, the ability to envision and lay out joinery (mortise and tenon) is using Stereotomy – Art du Trait. More complex, having mastered the understanding of Stereotomy allows the individual to have a clear and concise understanding of voluminous 3D pieces intersecting with one another in space. Going back to the question, anyone who designs uses notions of Stereotomy. So yes, Stereotomy is naturally always incorporated into our designs, but so too is everyone else’s without them necessarily knowing.”
When we asked Patrick what are the accomplishments he is proudest of, he replied “-First and by far the most, becoming the first and currently only person from both American continents to become a Compagnon Passant Charpentier.
- Second, having worked on all the Classified Historical Monuments across North America and France and having restored two Classified UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Thirdly, the creation of the Professional School of Practical Stereotomy, on ongoing growth and process of teaching and spreading the knowledge and empowerment of Stereotomy – Art du Trait."
To reach Patrick Moore and find out more about the fascinating skill of L’Art du Trait, see below:
Facebook – School of Practical Stereotomy
Website – www.historicalcarpentry.com
Address – 1 Langholm Crescent, Nepean, Ontario, Canada