Sandblasting Glass Art, Takarazuka Sumire Gallery, directed by Eiko Yamada

My Journey of Glass

in France

As approaching Charles de Gaulle Airport, Art Nouveau inspired street light was reflected on the wet mosaic stones of the inner city. Art Nouveau, new art, lost its originality because of the mass production caused by the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century. The Art Nouveau movement reconsidered the importance of richness in life and brought its creativity based in nature.

I got off a taxi at the entrance of the street which I used to walk on. The shop windows decorated with rain-drops were shining and emphasizing a display of a glass lamp. It looked unreal, and I felt nostalgia. The lamp was made by Charles Martin Emile Galle who was the Art Nouveau movement activist, and it is one of the few collections of his. It was a three-layered etching glass art designed with somewhat cherry or plum blossom. There was an old man missing a tooth in the shop. With an over-emphasized gesture, he told me "Emile Galle himself made this creation. What's around nowadays is only one layer etching, and then they coat it with enamel paint to make it look nice. Even the only layer is made with hydrogen fluoride for mass production. Three hundred people were making them. This one is a three-layer!! Do you understand what I mean?! There are only ten of his multilayer that remain in existence in the world." The old man seemed proud, and his craggy face reminded me of Popeye. (The outer etching products known in Japan is Satsuma Kiriko which is one layered outer etching with Azure = deep blue.)

In the shop, there was an old piece of work of Dorm style who is said to be a successor of Emile Galle. Being placed on a slightly dusty shelf, it whispered "look at me too". The Dorm style was as amazing as Galle's and it attracted many specialists in various fields. Its motif has Japanese influence. Birds, flowers, fish, and insects created realistically with clay are used as prototypes for gold molds. The glass is poured into or blown into the gold molds. (The process is the same as Rene Lalique's) There were also other creations such as a glass decorated with a perspective expression of scenery with enamel paint and a Pate de verre's (Paste of Glass Technique) remade artwork. Those artworks were placed on the dusted shelf expressing lenity that its time is so long ago. At the corner of the dim small shop, Rousseau Ujunu's artworks with bamboo leaf pattern and thistle pattern, and flower and bird pattern of Nancy style artworks were casually placed which inspired the Japanese atmosphere created during Art Nouveau era.

When I showed the old man some pictures of artworks made by my master Kou Takeuchi and myself, he cried out "Mon Dieu!" He offered me a chair, poured me a cup of coffee, and gave me Vittel as well then gabbled "tell me about your story". I caught off balance by his excitement though took a deep breath and told him about my story: My master is the founder of multi-layered outer etching and the first successions were 12-13 layers. Now it's possible to apply over 100 layers. He received the grand prix of Festival International du Arts de Cannes. He is the founder of sandblasting glass art. I am an heir of his technique. And about my awards and activities in this field. Relying on my old memory from French class in college required me to add a lot of gestures wholeheartedly which overlapped with the old man telling me his story compassionately as I first walked into the shop. (I might have looked like Olive.)

We talked about one hour. The time was rich and filled me with satisfaction over dullness from a long flight from Japan. The stars were shinning in the sky and my steps on the clean stone street were light. Not a generous thought for the old man of the shop though I couldn't help hoping that the Galle's lamp wouldn't get sold until my next visit, «Au revoir».