CLOISONNE

CLOISONNE

(Marian Slephian-Wall Hanging “Opera II Trovatore”)

CLOISONNE

From the French “cloison” or “cell” (“partition”).

Cloisonné has an ancient history, with a technique that has not changed over the millennia. 1t is believed to have been in practice in Mesopotamia at the end of the third millennium BC; and certainly is evident on rings from Cyprus dating back to the 13th century BC. The technique travelled to China where it flourished during the Ming and Ch’ing dynasties (mid- 14th century AD onwards) and reached a high artistic point of exquisite delicacy in Japan in the 19th century.

Originally cloisonné was a device used to separate or define areas of colour. In cloisonné, the design is outlined by bending thin strips of metal or wire, which are then soldered or fused into enamel ground coat. This creates cells or partitions which are then filled with pulverized enamel – often a single colour for each cell – and fired in several layers. The enamel is then ground level and polished by hand for a sheen, or re-fired till enamels have glossed over to a brilliance. Traditional cloisonné as done in China and Japan used opaque colours over brass or bronze. The cloisonné technique is particularly suited to objects made of gold, such as jewelry.