From Beads to Jars: Applying the Artistry of Cloisonné

Cloisonné is an art. Artisans from all over the world have employed this technique of designing on metal vessels with colored-glass paste. The designs are put within enclosures formed from copper or bronze wires, which have been wrought into the desired pattern. Rightfully known as cloisons (French for “partitions”), the artisan usually solders or pastes the enclosures onto the body of the metal vessel.

These are only two of the varied applications of cloisonné which any creative worker will do:

  • Cloisonné Beads

Each cloisonné bead can take up to four hours to produce. Since each bead is handmade, colors and styles which the artist creates is different from another creation. It’s a real treat for creativity to shine!

The following are the general steps in making cloisonné beads:

  1. Mold a copper base then sketch the desired design.
  2. Paste or solder brass wire cells to form a pattern.
  3. Paint enamels in the cells and (in most cases, fire them into the bead).
  4. Fill in enamels in the uneven spaces in the design.
  5. Repeat filling enamels (and fire the paint on the cell for the third time) until every filled-in space becomes smooth.
  6. Smoothen and polish the surface of the bead.
  7. Finally, the cells are gold or silver plated. 
  • Cloisonné Jars or Vessels

Varying with an artisan’s experience and skills, a vessel made by the cloisonné technique takes a week at most to prepare from start to finish. This also depends on the design and structure of the created vessel – the size and length and the number of patterns in the design.

The following are the general steps in making cloisonné vessels:

  1. Mold your vessel, according to your designed specifications.
  2. Shape and solder copper or bronze wire patterns on enamel cell shapes.
  3. Fill the cells with multiple colors of enamel then put in burning kiln.
  4. Continuously fire or paint enamel on the cells – three or four times – until the surface is even and smooth.
  5. Sand and polish the surface so that the design will be level and uniform.
  6. Polish once again and coat the entire vessel with electro-plating – either gold or silver-plated.

Cloisonné is an art that is both interesting and engaging to whoever does it. So do not be afraid to try it – the creations will be a charm, when made with the best of one’s capabilities with heartfelt dedication.

When passion becomes an art, the heart takes control of the flow of the mind.


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