Cloisonné Enamel (Meaning, Material, Value, History, Process)

Cloisonné is a well-known kind of traditional enamelware that has a history that dates back more than 500 years. One of the well-known arts and crafts that can be found in Beijing is called cloisonné. The production of cloisonné involves a number of labor-intensive and time-consuming steps, including base-hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, polishing, and gilding. Cloisonné is a kind of cloisonne. The first phase in the process of manufacturing cloisonné is called the base-hammering of the body. Because copper can be hammered and stretched with relative ease, copper was chosen to be the material utilised to make the body. To complete this stage successfully, you will need to have good judgement in terms of the shape, as well as maintaining consistent thickness and weight. The coppersmith is responsible for the creation of this item. The only distinction is that after an item is fashioned, the job of the copper-smith is over, but the labour of the cloisonné artisan has just started. The soldering of the filigree is the second phase. This stage calls for a high level of inventiveness and considerable attention. Copper strips are affixed to the body by the craftsman using adhesive. These strips have a diameter of one sixteenth of an inch and may be cut to whatever length the craftsman wishes. By adhering the strips of filigree together in this manner, a difficult yet finished design is created. When it comes to affixing the copper strips to the body, the craftsman has a blueprint in his head, but he is free to make full use of his experience, inventiveness, and artistic vision in the process. The application of colour, also known as enamel filling, is the third phase in the process. The colour or enamel functions similarly to the glaze that is applied to pottery. The term for it is falang. The elements boric acid, saltpetre, and alkaline make up its fundamental components. The hue is distinct from one another due to the variety of minerals that were included in the mix. In most cases, a substance that contains a significant amount of iron will turn grey, whereas a substance that contains uranium will turn yellow, one that contains chromium will turn green, one that contains zinc will turn white, one that contains bronze will turn blue, and one that contains gold or iodine will turn red. The pigments are reduced to a fine powder before being sprinkled into the individual cells that are defined by the filigree. The firing of the enamel is the fourth phase. Kilns are used to achieve this result by placing the item, along with its enamel filling, inside of them. After a little period of time, the copper body will change colour to red. However, after the piece has been fired, the enamel in the individual sections will have shrunk somewhat. That calls for a fresh supply of that item. This procedure will be performed several times until all of the empty spaces in the cells are occupied. Polishing is the fifth and final process. Emery is used for the first polishing step. The goal is to have an equitable distribution of the filled compartments and the filigree. After another round in the heat, the entire thing is given one more pass over a whetstone to bring out its shine. In the end, a piece of hard carbon is used to polish the surface of the item one more time in order to get a sheen on the surface of the item. Gilding is the sixth and last phase. This is accomplished by submerging the item in a liquid containing gold or silver, which is then altered by an electric current. The areas of the object that are exposed, such as the filigree and the metal fringes, will once more be electroplated, and then a light polish will be applied.

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