Mar 26, 2014

The word Cloisonné is used to describe both a finished art object, and a process. Cloisonné is a labor-intensive craft involving a complex multi-step enamel process, that can produce stunning results.

Step 1: Base Hammering

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The canvas for a Cloisonné pattern is made of copper. A coppersmith will fashion the malleable copper into a roughcast (jewelry piece, vessel, or similar art object) by hammering and/or stretching the material into the required shape.

Step 2: Soldering the Filigree Work

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The desired pattern is imprinted onto the base, and copper wire that is approximately 1/16 of an inch in diameter is bent into the desired pattern and soldered into place.

Step 3: Enamel Filling

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To make to colored fillings various pigments are ground into a fine powder and mixed with alkaline, boric acid, and saltpeter. Then comes enamel filling, which requires the application of such basic elements as boric acid, saltpeter and alkaline. Due to the different minerals added, Cloisonne appears different in color. Bronze (blue), chromium (green), iodine (red), uranium (yellow), and zinc (white) are used as primary coloring agents. The pigment is added to each cell compartment by hand.

Step 4: Enamel Firing

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Once the first filling is complete, the piece is fired in a crucible. As the copper base turns red the pigments will melt filling each cell. There is a slight amount of shrinkage to the pigments on the first firing, and some re-filling of the cells will be required before a second firing. There can be as many as six or seven firings to achieve the desired results.

Step 5: Surface Polishing

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Once all of the compartments are sufficiently full the object is placed on a motorized wheel, and cutting emery is used to even the surface. The object will be fired for a final time, then polished with whetstone and carbon.

Step 6: Gilding

The exposed metal filigree is electroplated with gold or silver to prevent oxidation from dulling the filigree. Then the object will be given a final polish.

SOURCE : 2009 Kevin Hulsey

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