Definition of Gemmail
The word “Gemmail” is the contraction of two words “gemmme” or precious stone and ” email ” or enamel, the medium used to assemble pieces of glass. The sound of this word in French describes the essential characteristic of this art form and its unlimited potential, “A new expression of Beauty ” *.
The Gemmaux after being set , put together and superimposed are enclosed in a frame just like precious stones sparkling in a jewel box. They capture light and transform it. The number of layers of glass determine the intensity of the colour desired, and the superposition gives as wide and as rich a range of colours found on a painter’s palette. Authentic work of art, material as fluid and changing as the light of which it is composed, the Gemmail has opened a new era in the artist’s mind.
In fact the Gemmaux are translucent paintings which live through light. The artist draws an outline of a design on a large plate of clear glass, on which are placed pieces of coloured glass where the size and superposition allow him to obtain the most subtle range of colours of the palette. Once the work is finished to the satisfaction of the artist, the piece is submerged in an absolutely colourless enamel and put into a heating chamber where it reaches temperatures close to the degree of heat that softens glass, unless the constitution of the linking elements, foreseen to supply chemically a particular part of the baking process do not allow it. In these circumstances, the work is done at a much lower temperature. When the desired temperature has been reached progressively and the desired reactions have been obtained, the chamber is brought back to a specific temperature and the work is cooled gradually and very slowly.
This is how Picasso was able to grasp the intangible : The light, naturally pure and whole, modeled and refracted through thousands of “gemmes” that constitute each work made in Gemmail.
* Jean Cocteau
** “Les Lettres Françaises”, 1957