DON VIEHMAN

CONTEMPORARY CLOISONNE

CLOISINNE is an enameling technique characterized by using a metal wire (often a thin ribbon of gold or silver, set on edge) to (1) partition one separated section (cloison) from another, and (2) to serve as the lines of a design. The enamelist bends and cuts small pieces of the wire, arranges the wires in the desired pattern, and fires then onto a cleaned and prepared base, usually made of copper or fine silver. Washed and sifted enamels in powder form are carefully placed in the cloisons of the piece, which is then fired in the kiln. This process is repeated until all the cloisons have been filled to the height of the cloisonné wire. After all color firings have been completed, each piece is STONED (abraided) and shaped to create a smooth, even surface. Different finishing processes can then be used to create desired surface appearances, including “flash firing” and high-gloss polishing. Much of the creativity and excellence of a cloisonné piece will arise from the accumulated knowledge of the enamelist, and her/his selection, preparation, combination, application, firing, and finishing of the enamels with an almost infinite variety of appearances.




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