The very popular (in the Guérande peninsula) regional weekly called L’Écho de la Presqu’île congratulates cutler Jean-Henri Pagnon for his Artisan of the Year 2021 award. The paper devotes an article, an inset on the front page, but also dedicates its yellow poster to Morta Knives. Jean-Henri Pagnon, artisan-cutler, has managed Atelier JHP for 10 years. He and his team make knives with handles made from a local material, unique in France, called Morta. Short retrospective on this story where passions combine and break new ground.
3 JUNE 2021 IN PARIS | THE CROWNING OF AN ARTISAN CUTLER FROM SAINT-ANDRÉ-DES-EAUX
Enrolled by Banque Populaire, partner of CMA (Chambre des Métiers et de l’Artisanat), I therefore left for Paris after successfully passing the departmental and regional stages of the Stars & Métiers competition for best artisan of the year. Naturally I’m confident I’ll come back with a prize. What I see is that I have to leave my team alone at the controls for 24 hours. Not easy when you know the workload facing cutlers.
What a happy surprise when the artisan Oscars name me top artisan of the year 2021. A title I modestly welcome as a reward for 10 years’ unremitting work. From a noble and prestigious knife, it is now a medal-winning product we sell to our customers.
L’ÉCHO DE LA PRESQU’ÎLE RETURNS TO THE KNIFE CRAZE
THE KNIFE IS A LIFETIME COMPANION
The whole Atelier JHP team talks to the journalist from the Guerande peninsula newspaper and explains the origin of this crazy adventure. I already used to make my knives in the family garage when I was little. In admiration before this object that is among other rare objects that have not evolved since homo sapiens, I can’t stop making more and more of them.
Only the fact is that a pastime no matter how fascinating does not feed a man. That is why I threw myself into working life, setting this hobby aside. I then became a sales trainer for an American company.
BRIÈRE, THE OTHER REVELATION
It was life that brought me to Brière with my family. After reading Alphonse de Châteaubriant, I then made a double discovery. I not only developed a love for this region but I learned that its peaty soil contains a priceless treasure, the Morta. Born of ancestral oak trees, Morta is a wood that is undergoing fossilization. I immediately discerned the ideal partner for a quality blade. The Morta knife had just come into being.
THE PRESS ARTICLE ALSO RECOUNTS THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ADVENTURE
FROM TRAINER TO CUTLER
And why wouldn’t a passion feed a man? I decided to make the leap. I worked for 7 years on my own at first and created the JHP brand (for Jean-Henri Pagnon) before I started recruiting. But the workload forced me to see reason, I could not satisfy the growing demand on my own. As the journalist says, “exhausting days being alone at the furnace and mill. Or rather, at the forge and on the Brière moors.” Because yes, at Atelier JHP, we have to extract this unique and extraordinary raw material from the Brière soil by ourselves. So I became multiskilled, I forge the metal, bring back the wood, work it to produce the ultimate object, the knife.
A FINE TEAM WITH GROWING EFFICIENCY
Today it’s a team of 5 passionate cutlers, oops.. sorry 6, mustn’t forget Rio, the faithful quadruped who shares daily life in this workshop, which is henceforth looking for a bigger space. In fact, we are already cramped in the nonetheless recent premises of 100 m2. It’s not surprising when you know that some 5,000 knives are made every year and growth in the 1st quarter 2021 reached 80% by comparison with the previous year. It’s also with the overhaul of the website that the workshop evolves and responds ever more to its customers.
Lastly, it must be pointed out that this consecration has opened doors to the international market.
Want to see the collection of Morta Knives or treat yourself to one? Visit the shop. Indeed, you will not find these artisanal cutlery treasures anywhere else, apart from the workshop itself in Saint-André-des-Eaux. Close to Nantes, Vannes or Saint-Nazaire, Atelier JHP gladly welcomes you to show you the entire process of creating Morta Knives. Any questions? Contact them! Atelier JHP is there to answer you.
Other print media and radio and TV stations have also shown interest in Morta Knives, learn more !