Turquoise Blue & White
French Style Flowers
UK Size U
Cloisonné (French pronunciation: [klwazɔne])
is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects
with colored material held in place or separated by metal strips or wire,
normally of gold.
In recent centuries, vitreous enamel has been used,
but inlays of cut gemstones, glass and other materials
were also used during older periods;
indeed cloisonné enamel very probably began
as an easier imitation of cloisonné work using gems.
The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné.
The decoration is formed by first adding compartments (cloisons in French)
to the metal object by soldering or affixing silver or gold
as wires or thin strips placed on their edges.
These remain visible in the finished piece,
separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays,
which are often of several colors.
Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on
with enamel powder made into a paste,
which then needs to be fired in a kiln.
If gemstones or colored glass is used,
the pieces need to be cut or ground into the shape of each cloison.
In antiquity, the cloisonné technique was mostly used for jeweller
and small fittings for clothes, weapons or similar small objects
decorated with geometric or schematic designs,
with thick cloison walls.
In the Byzantine Empire techniques
using thinner wires were developed
to allow more pictorial images to be produced,
mostly used for religious images and jewellery,
and by then always using enamel.
This style was used and developed in Europe,
By the 14th century this enamel technique
had been replaced in Europe by champlevé,
but had had spread to China,
where it was soon used for much larger vessels such as bowls and vases;
the technique remains common in China to the present day,
and cloisonné enamel objects using Chinese-derived styles
were produced in the West from the 18th century.
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