The first mention of “rocailleur”, the technique of making garden furniture and structures out of concrete made to resemble wood - “faux-bois” (meaning fake wood) – was in 1845 in Paris. One of the first rocailleur creations can be found in the Buttes Chaumont gardens (1866 to 1869). From then on, the technique was often used to decorate many public and private gardens : rock formations (at Bois de Boulogne), terraces, foot bridges, fax trees and tree stumps, guard rails, fences, benches and tables, etc…
Between 1870-1910 many things were being made out of faux bois, such as whole fake trees, garden furniture, furniture for the home, and even architecture. The most productive period for faux bois was between 1870 and 1910, when many people were building suburban homes. After 1930, even amateurs were familiar with and able to reproduce the rocailleur technique.
The rocailleur technique was reproduced by both gardeners and masons, and it often involved learning as you went along. It involved a lot of work with the hands, and it is this that makes the rocailleur style so appreciated. Gloves were not allowed to be worn when creating the rocailleur style because they interfered with the delicate craftsmanship. The rocailleur style was an interlude between the world of crafts and the industrial working world.
On an iron structure was laid a rough layer of cement or concrete. After drying, another layer was laid. The final touches involved really fine, and sometimes coloured cement.
- photo : Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Paris, example of the "art of the Rocailleur".