Friday, February 9, 2007


...Enamel Factory

After the visit to the Silk Comforter factory, I’ve embarked on another Cultural outing with my friend Kim and went to visit an enamel factory, also called Cloisonné.
Cloisonné enamel, an ancient metalworking technique, developed in the Near East was first spread to the Byzantine Empire and from there along the Silk Road to China during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). It used to be reserved for the Emperor and his court.

Cloisonné is the unique technique of the combination of porcelain and bronze.

Model hammering
  • ­ Vessels are constructed with several pieces of copper that are soldered together.
  • A pattern is carefully traced by transferring the design to the surface with carbon paper.
Filigree welding
  • ­ Cloisons (French for partitions), which will act as color-separators, are made with flat wire coppers that are bent with pliers, following a pattern on paper.
  • The cloisons are placed onto the vessel with tweezers and held in place by a soldering paste.
  • ­ The pieces are then heated in an oven to permanently affix the cloisons to the base metal by melting the solder. The piece is then allowed to cool.
Enamel filling
  • ­ Eye droppers are used to fill the cloisons with enamel paste or frit (glass crushed to a powder).
  • ­ The pieces are fired in an electric kiln. The heat causes the enamel to vitrify and settle into the cloisons. Three or four coats of enamel are applied and fired until the cloisons are completely full.
Surface polishing
  • ­ The enameled surface is ground smooth on a lather with water and emery stones and re-fired.
  • ­ The final polishing is also done on a lathe, but with water and charcoal.
  • The final step is to electroplate the exposed copper with gold and silver.

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