top of page

Step 1:

I choose a gemstone

(or petrified wood or marble tile)

which I purchased from a rockhound.

See sample.

Yellow mottled gemstone.jpg

Step 2:

I choose images which will fit both the shape and the design within the stone. In the next samples I chose the vineyard in the first sample for the bottom of the stone and just the trees in the next sample for the top of the stone.  All photographs are from my personal library from my 35 years of photography. 

B&W Wavy Vineyard.jpg
Trees at top of Vineyard.jpg
Wavy Vineyard Photogem.jpg

Step 3:

 I then float the emulsion layer of the photograph(s) onto the gemstone in a bowl of water, and THIS IS A NEW PHOTOGEM!  Yes, I did leave out a lot of (proprietary) details.

Step 4:

Once dry, I handcolor the image on the stone with a very light coat of translucent oil paint to create contrast, color particular spots, and to make the image archivally sound.  Then I spray a coat of varnish to seal everything.

Step 5:

I cut double mats with colors that coordinate with colors in the stone, and a custom-sized "window" unique to that stone.  Then I mount the stone such that it appears to float under the matboard.  This new PhotoGem is then finished with a black shadowbox frame.

​As you can see, creating a PhotoGem is not a simple process, and I left out about 20 steps with the details.  In fact, it takes about 2-3 months to create an edition of about 20-25 PhotoGems.  But when finished, I have a real feeling of accomplishment and pride.


Thank you for your interest in my work.


Cynthia Biles, Artist and Owner 

Frame 36 Photography

Modesto, California

bottom of page