The needle … an everyday object, simple, humble, inexpensive. And yet, behind this prehistoric invention, hides a fascinating universe.
Let’s discover the Manufacture Bohin, the last needle factory in France, which has adapted to the modern world without losing its soul.
The façade of the Manufacture Bohin, by Jean-Marie MANDON © Manufacture Bohin
It all started with a little boy with a strong character. From the age of 8, Benjamin Bohin, in 1830, worked with his father to manufacture wooden boxes, but at the age of 11 he already wanted to take over the small business to integrate mass production. Faced with the refusal of his father, he will try three times to go to America. In the end, the latter handed over the business to his son – who was only 17 years old. And the march forward will never stop. Benjamin is a true entrepreneur, of which the 19th century is so keen: he travels, he invents products, he opens factories.
During 5 generations, the Bohins will help this region of Normandy to prosper. The place was well-known for the quality of the iron of its soil. The Bohins create needles, pins, phonograph needles, razor blades – anything that can be made from a flexible wire.
The Team © Manufacture Bohin
The middle of the 20th century is not kind for the company, which has to fight against competition and new technologies (such as velcro). But it can count on Didier Vrac. The former sales manager believed in the company, which he bought in 1997. In 2000, following a report on a French TV channel, visitors flocked to the factory. The idea of a museum was born. It will take 14 years to create a real museographic ensemble: visits to the production workshops, a contemporary museum, a large temporary exhibition hall, a shop. Visits are adapted to the public, seminar rooms are available, everything is in place to make this place more alive than ever.
In 2018 it is the director of the museum herself, Audrey Régnier, and her husband, who buy the company.
Velvet pincushion © Manufacture Bohin
Every year, Bohin creates new things – like this needle specially designed with France Boutis in 2018. There are over 100 types of needles available for sewing, embroidery, tapestry, boutis, needles for tired eyes or to sew beads. But there are also the so-called “craft” needles for leather, mattresses, dolls or even boat sails, with a triangular end! The catalog is really impressive … and makes you want to sew and embroider!
One of the flagship products is the Velvet Pincushion. Don’t be fooled by its polished appearance, inside is a large chunk of horsehair, as this material helps keep your needles smooth and clean.
2 months of work and 27 steps are needed to create a needle: 8 to shape the material, 11 to structure the needle, and 8 to control and package them. Find here videos that will make you change your view on your needles!
For all those who love crafts, the making of such small objects is fascinating. All of Bohin’s art is hidden in the quality of its machines (the youngest is from 1945!) And the human gaze at every step. Nothing is left to chance to create a needle that glides perfectly without breaking or damaging your thread. At Bohin, quality is clearly at the heart of their entire process.
Machines in the workshop © Manufacture Bohin
Aurélie Wozniak, Coral © SilverPoints
The human quality is also present in the social and artistic commitments of this house.
A large exhibition bringing together 23 artists was to take place from March 20. “Monté en épingle” presented more than 80 sculpted, painted, sewn and woven works which have the pin as its center. Let us hope that the pandemic will end soon so that we can discover this exhibition as soon as possible: the works presented are fascinating, playful, beautiful or even astonishing!
Marc Gaillet, Sudan © Manufacture Bohin
Museum- Industrialisation in Normandy © Manufacture Bohin
The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire