Delightful 1998 Video of Marcel Carbonel (1911 - 2003)

Posted on November 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

We were so pleased to discover this video of Marcel Carbonel (1911-2003) filmed in 1998 that we had to share it with you. The video is in French, but we guarantee you will enjoy "visiting" with him - around Marseille and in the Carbonel Santons Atelier - Workshop. The video offers very special footage of the Carbonel creation of a Santon.


Carbonel created his first Santons in 1935. In 1942 he opened a workshop with his wife Clotilde in Marseille. In the beginning they employed one individual who specialized in creating the molds and two painters.  

In 1947 he was elected the President of the Union of Santons Craftsmen (a position he held for 21 years) and in 1959, with Jean Heritier, founded the Salon International de Santonniers in Arles. In 1961 he was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France - The Best Worker of France

and in 1962 the Medal of National Merit. In 1973 the Carbonel Workshops received the award Best Workmen of France. In 1975 his grandson, Phillippe Renoux, then 15,

began an apprenticeship at the studio. Phillippe earned the gold medal at a regional exhibition of the Best Workman of France contest in 1982 and it was Phillippe who in 1993 would cement the continuity of the family Workshop. 

The Marcel Carbonel Workshops holds more than 700 different Santons molds - the largest collection of Santons in Provence. In 2000 the Workshop was selected by the French Embassy to the Vatican, Rome to represent France in a contest of the "100 Most Beautiful Cribs in the World." The Carbonel Workshops was awarded the Silver Medal. In 2003 Marcel Carbonel was named Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. In 2007 the Workshops was named an Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (a French Living Heritage Establishment) for the excellence of their traditional skills.

Simply stated the Marcel Carbonel Workshop is a living heritage and they are the Premier creator of Santons. 

You may enjoy following our Marcel Carbonel Santons board on Pinterest.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Provence Christmas

New for 2014 - Carbonel Santons Octopus Fisherman - Pécheur au poulpe - Size #2

Posted on November 04, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every year the Marcel Carbonel Santons workshop in Marseille creates new Santons. 2014 brings a charming Octopus Fisherman - Pécheur au poulpe - Size #2 - the Elite size. 

The Octopus Fisherman is one of many Carbonel Fishermen. They make many anglers and fishermen with nets, but craft the Octopus Fisherman only in two sizes: the new one, in Size #2, and the other in Size #3, the Grande Size, seen here in this photograph of the finished Santon next to one newly molded, but yet to be fired or painted.

The Fisherman is number 16 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal CrecheHe is a pivotal figure in Provence, whether he works with his nets in the sea, or, as an angler, casting his pole into a local stream. As a Santon, his origin is in the early nativity plays and creche-parlant. Foremost, he is a classic figure of the Port of Marseille and its very important fishing trade of the Mediterranean. 

An integral part of Marseille's heritage, the Fish Market (Marché aux Poissons) is held on the quai des Belges on the Old Port. It is small, but ever so lively (the outspoken Fishwife being apocraphyl) 

 - buy the catch of the day fresh off the boat and have it weighed and cleaned for you while you wait. This is where the locals buy their fish for the day's bouillabaisse.  


Bouillabaisse (click here for a traditional Marseille Bouillabaisse recipe) is all about that catch of the day. The word bouillabaisse comes from "the Provençal Occitan word bolhabaissa, a compound that consists of the two verbs bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to reduce heat, i.e., simmer). Bouillabaisse originally was a stew made by Marseille fishermen using the bony rockfish which they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets. There are at least three kinds of fish in a traditional bouillabaisse: typically red rascasse (Scorpaena scrofa); sea robin (fr: grondin); and European conger (fr: congre). It can also include gilt-head bream (fr: dorade); turbot; monkfish (fr: lotte or baudroie); mullet; or European hake (fr: merlan). It usually also includes shellfish and other seafood such as sea urchins (fr: oursins), mussels (fr: moules); velvet crabs (fr: étrilles); spider crab (fr: araignées de mer) or octopus." - Wikipedia

Octopus may be last on the Bouillabaisse fish list, but it is certain that it is not the least - one would imagine that when it was available it was considered a must!


Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas

2014 Carbonel Santons Nativity Sets - Size #2 (Elite)

Posted on October 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every year we build new Marcel Carbonel Santons (from Provence, France) Nativity Sets built around different stables. Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223.

We always offer starter sets for Carbonel figures themselves (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus) and our Shepherd Gift set. Click here to see them in Size #2 (Elite) and here for Size #3 (Grande).  All are a wonderful way to get started and to save some money.

Our one of a kind stable sets are available for Size #2. They include a stable, Santons figures, trees from the Erzgebirge, and Bavarian accessories. Enjoy the European tradition. Begin with a stable and the nativity figures. Over the years, add additional figures and Carbonel accessories, trees, and miniature accessories. 

#1 - Charming Creche Set. This set includes Carbonel Ruin Stable with trees and eight figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, an Angel, three Kings, and a sheep. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.

#2 -Wonderful Carbonel Nativity Set with German Accessories.  This set includes a Courtyard Stable; Mary, Joseph, Jesus, three Kings, an Angel and a sheep. PLUS a sampling of accessories--all from Germany (the Erzgebirge and Bavaria).


#3 - An exquisite creche starter set. Combine French Santons figures with a German stable and accessories. This set includes: eight Santons: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, three Kings, Angel, and a sheep. A detailed hand-made stable reminiscent of the European Alps from Bavaria. PLUS German trees and accessories.

#4 - Nativity Set with Carbonel Santons and Stable with German Accessories. This set celebrates the arrival of a Shepherd with his sheep - the shepherd was the first to arrive at the manger. The stable is the Stable with Trees -– Étable No. 2 bis avec arbres. Eight figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Man with a sheep, three sheep, and a lamb. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany..


 #5 - A delightful creche set combining French Santons with a German Stable and accessories. A Bavarian stable - in the Alpine Tradition. Five (5) Santons figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, an Angel and a sheep. Accessories from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.


and finally #6 - Nativity Set with Carbonel Santons and Stable with German Accessories. Santons Stable with trees and four Santons: Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a sheep. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.

Click on the images above to find these nativity sets in our shop. We ship online via the United States Post Office. For the bulk of the items we offer, USPS is definitely the least expensive way to ship. Nativity sets and Stables are one of the exceptions, due to weight and package dimensions. It is possible that our nativity sets would ship less expensively via United Parcel Service. Place a telephone order - 1-877-832-6077 for a UPS delivery. 


Posted in Carbonel Santons, Erzgebirge, German Folk Art, Nativities, Provence Christmas, Trees

The Shepherdess – the Twentieth (20th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on October 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Shepherdess – La Bergere (French) –  La Pastresso (Provençaux) is number 20 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche.

We included her in our very first entry on the 20 Essential Santons, the Shepherd being #1, at the very end of that post, as she is represented by the Carbonel workshops in four pieces, all tendering a lamb - two in Size #3

one in Size #2

and one in Size Puce

The Angel first announced the birth of the Saviour to the Shepherds. The Shepherds were the first to reach the manger, and summoned all the Provencal villagers to follow them. It is because Christ's birth was first revealed to the Shepherds (the Pastors) that the original nativity plays in Provence were called pastorals. "Filled with wonder, the shepherds made their way to the manger carrying jugs of milk, wheels of cheese and a precious lamb. On the way, they stopped at every farm and village to tell of the wondrous happening....Their jubilance and excitement was infectious and it was not long before everyone who could walk was on his way with a gift or to offer assistance." (Foley, p. 83-84)



Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas

The Woman with Cabbage and Garlic – the Nineteenth (19th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Woman with Cabbage and Garlic – Femme au chou et a l’ail (French) - La Femo eme lou caulet (Provençaux) is number 19 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche.

The Carbonel workshop offers her in all four of the Santon sizes that we carry.

She carries a braid of garlic in one hand while holding a head of cauliflower with the other.  Both of these vegetables are important to a Provençal tradition: l'aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise. As explained in Wikipedia: "In Provence, aioli (or more formally, Le Grand Aïoli) also designates a complete dish consisting of various boiled vegetables (uniformly carrotspotatoes, and green beans), boiled fish (normally, desalted salt cod), and boiled eggs usually served along with snails or mollusks, with the aioli sauce. Other commonly used vegetables are cauliflower, courgettes (zucchini) and raw tomato."

Garlic, of course, has also been important historically and to this day for its medicinal qualities.

Enjoy following our Pinterest Board on Marcel Carbonel Santons.



Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas

The Woman with a Bundle of Sticks – the Eighteenth (18th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on September 03, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Woman with a Bundle of Sticks – Femme au fagots (French) – La Vieio au balus de bos (Provençaux) is number 18 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche.

The French word fagots is also spelled faggots and means a bundle of twigs, sticks, or branches bound together. Carbonel represents the carrier of fagots as an Old Woman and/or an Old Man, both with their backs hunched, indicative of their age and station in life. The humblest of humanity, they are symbols of poverty. Wood is not plentiful in Provence, so those in need eke out the most modest living, gathering and selling every twig they can to be used for kindling.

The old woman, called Misere, and also known as the Woodcutter's Wife, La Bouscatiero (Provençaux), walks with the aid of a stick.

She is often seen as accompanied by her husband, the Man with a Bundle of Sticks (Homme au fagots - French; Woodcutter, Lou Bouscatie - Provençaux), his trousers patched, a small bundle in his hand.

They share their happiness at the birth of Christ, presenting their modest gift - a bundle of twigs for a fire to keep the Christ Child warm.

Enjoy our Pinterest board on Marcel Carbonel Santons.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas

The Woman Spinning Wool – the Seventeenth (17th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on July 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Woman Spinning Wool - La Fileuse (French) – La Fielarello (Provençaux) is number 17 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche.  It is common for her to be represented in the Santons world as either a young or an old woman.  Carbonel has created both.

She is associated historically in Provence with the process of filature, and reeling threads of silk from a cocoon, i.e., as the "Reeling Girl, or Woman."

"In the 18th and 19th centuries Provence experienced a boom in sericulture that would last until the First World War, with much of the silk produced being shipped north to Lyon. Viens and La Bastide-des-Jourdans are two of the communes of Luberon that profited the most from mulberry plantations that have since disappeared.[34] Working at home under the domestic system, silk spinning and silk treatment employed many people and increased the income of the working class." - Wikipedia

In Provençal tales the Woman Spinning Wool is Marto, one of the three Parcae or Goddesses of Fate.
The Provence of the Santons world, of course, is one in which the Shepherd and his sheep and their wool is of utmost importance. Each Spinner holds a distaff of wool. The pinafore around her waist is folded up to form a pocket to hold the fleece with which she spins. She is available in all four sizes that My Growing Traditions offers.

Carbonel's older spinner works at a separate, wooden (depicted in clay of course) spinning wheel - Fileuse au rouet, available in Sizes #2 and #1.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas