(Marllyn Druin – Brooch/Pendant “Golden Sampler”)
From the French meaning “Iow cut”.
Developed in Italy in the 13th century, the technique of basse-taille spread through Italy, France and Spain and was especially popular in Europe during the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
Basically, this is a technique in which a metal surface is engraved or carved in varying depths of low relief, a texture which can be achieved in a number of ways such as etching, engraving, chasing, stamping, etc. The low relief surface is covered with transparent enamel, so that the design is revealed through it, and several thin layers of transparent enamels are then fired over this base giving the object a brilliant tonal quality. Basse-taille brings out the full beauty of transparent enamels, as the light is refracted from the shiny metal beneath creating an illusion of depth and play of light and shade. The more reflective the metal, the more enchanting and iridescent the effect – one reason why it is most effective used on gold or silver, the most reflective metals. The effect of the reflected light varies according to the thickness of the enamel lying over the surfaces of the low relief and so there are subtle variations in tonal strengths of the enamel colours, which range from bright highlights to the rich tones of the deep recesses.