In Franglais this would seem to mean, an albeit somewhat short, story of email perhaps with a subsection on texting? But no, email (plural emaux) means enamel and, it transpires, is long associated with Limoges. For some reason playing second fiddle to porcelain or even gloves for which Limoges is principally famous. Apparently enamelled work has has a history back to at least the XIIth century in this area.
So what I hear you say? Well, Delia’s dad wanted to take some enamelled jewellery back to Aus so we’ve been researching enamel. We visited the Maison de l’Email in Limoges (no not a cybercafé) which had some beautiful works of art and jewellery – ranging from panels to pendants to modern artworks
Delia had a much simpler piece I had bought for her at a local country fair so we went internauting (French for internet surfer is internaut – so much better) for local enamel workers I found two in a town not too far – no web sites but the directory said “visite sur rendez vous” so I rang them. ‘Are your Joel Taton?’… “Who wants to know?” (more or less) was the cagey answer but eventually he agreed for us to meet at his workshop. The second (”Chris”) turned out to be the actual artisan who had made Delia’s pendant and was happy to arrange a visit.
The day arrives and we three trundle off to Joel Taton’s workshop… actually his house through which we walk (greeting his wife and daughter on the way) into the garden and to his workshop. He had some wonderful work there including some small replicas inspired from an item made by him (and others) for the Limoges Musée des beaux arts.
All in all a fascinating run through of many enamelling techniques (stretching my French understanding but I followed most and translated enough for Delia and her dad). He seemed genuinely grateful for our visit and when we asked, he had nothing for sale, all were works underway. He did tell us of a gallery in Limoges that stocked his jewellery which we later visited but his works were more than our budget would stand – high quality but up beyond 100€.
“Chris” on the other hand was much more commercially focussed and had his items for sale arrayed ready for our perusal and followed by an explanation of his skills in his workshop. We all bought some items – priced in tens rather than hundreds of euros – however the difference was marked – his jewellery was attractive whilst Joel Taton’s was art. Chris produced his by the dozen; though still involving up to ten firings, he was able to produce items at an affordable price. Tha being said he showed us some incredibly skilled and intricate panels, as well as his main love which apparently was enamelling model trolley buses and trams – of which he had working models in a model town!
Having guests (as we currently have Bill – Delia’s dad) means that we also become tourists and so we have visited and walked much more than usual. Including me and Bill on a 14km walk around the “sources of the river Dronne”; the three of us to two Beaux Villages, and to Chateau de Jumilhac.
Not that its all been touristic this fortnight… Bill helped with putting a cement mixer together and also digging out turf for gravel and a ditch for the foundation of the step/retaining wall for the patio extension. Sounds grand but its really just converting the grassy patch that gets slippery in winter to gravel matching the rest at the back of the house (also somewhere for me to tip the slurry at the end of each day of repointing – see the next few blog, bet you can’t wait for that?).