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Cloisonné

French for “cloison” or “cell.” A technique in which metal wires are bent to form a design; enamel is then inlaid into the resulting “cloisons.” Although this can be done in copper, contemporary cloisonné is most frequently done in silver or gold. The Byzantine Empire, 6th century AD, was the setting for gold cloisonne pieces of a religious nature. In the same time frame, the Japanese were producing scenes of nature. In China, cloisonné has been used since the 13th century AD.

Making a piece of cloisonné enamel is a very time-consuming and delicate task.  Once you have the design in mind you should make a sketch to use as a template to bend the wires just so. I say should because sometimes I just like to make it up as I go along, letting the fine silver tell me what it wants to be. Once the wires are set then multiple layers of transparent (or opaque as the design dictates) enamel are applied, firing the piece after each layer.  I like working with transparents because you can build depth and create refractive color changes when the enamel is seen in the daylight.  For just that reason I texture the silver before applying any enamel so to create the reflective base and allow for refraction of light.

All of the long drop earrings are about 2 inches long, very lightweight and on sterling silver earwires.  Ovals are 1.5 inches long and small, round single discs are 1 inch. Any of the designs you see can be created in any color combination you desire or I would love to talk with you about making your own design come to life in enamel.

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Cloisonne 1

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Looking to have a unique piece made, see something you like on the site or just have a general question about how the jewelry is made? Get in touch!

The Artful Otter
Tel: 828-357-7521
Email: artfulotter@comporium.net