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26/06/2014

Handmade Cloisonne Beads Displays The Skill of Artisans


Cloisonne is a very old technique that was originally used for decorating metal objects. It was also used for decorating glass, precious stones and many other surfaces, by using glass like enamel inlays. The resulting item would be called cloisonne, which is literally translated to "Partitioned" in English.

The process involved soldering gold or silver wires to the metal object, to make the cloisons or partitions. The inlays can be of different colours, which were made with powdered enamel that was made into a paste before being applied. The metal item was then bake in a kiln at elevated temperatures.

The labor-intensive process was used on small objects and jewellery or for decorating weapons, such as handguns. The modern process has changed much since then and is much less intensive but can still be used in a variety of processes such as making handmade Cloisonne beads.

Making handmade Cloisonne beads requires skill dexterity, and experience, and is now completed by skilled artisans. The bead is usually made of copper, but it can also be silver, gold or any other metal.

Handmade Cloisonne beads can take up to 5 hours for each bead, as scores of the cells or partitions are individually soldered to the bead's surface. The partitions are then filled with up to 4 layers of the enamel, with a baking after each layer. The handmade Cloisonne beads are then polished to display the intricate and fascinating designs.

The cloisonne technique appears to have originated in Egypt before 1800 B.C. It was originally started with inlaying of golden ornaments with small pieces of gemstones. There is some speculation that the goldsmiths and the glass blowers collaborated by using coloured glass in place of the precious gems to imitate the same appearance.

The technique was believed to have been brought to China by Asian missionaries, in the early to the middle of the 14th Century. The Chinese extended the art form, and became skilled in the art of cloisonne enamelling, by including already known processes such as the production of glass and glazing. Inclusion and advancing of the skills allowed them to accurately control the temperatures and firing of the baking process.

Although handmade Cloisonne beads may be it bit more expensive than other beads, they offer several advantages. The wires use in handmade Cloisonne beads are usually smoother, and the enamel partitions will also be more even and fuller without gaps or rough edges. It may also be easier to do differentiate handmade Cloisonne beads as the surfaces will be smoother, because of the hand-polishing that is done at the end of the firing process.



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