Cloisonne Enameling

Written by Norene Anderson
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The process of cloisonne enameling begins with soldering brass or copper wires to a copper base forming a pattern for the design on the pin. As the pattern dictates, colored enamels fill in the spaces. The enamel is made through a process of melting material such as boric acid, glass powder, and red lead together. This forms an opaque shinning substance. As oxidized metals are added, the enamel changes colors.

The enamel is allowed to cool to a solid substance and then is ground into powder. The powder is mixed with water to prepare it for filling in the design. The enamel paste is poured into the proper spaces that are marked by the wires. The next phase in cloisonne enameling is to fire the pin in a kiln. It takes several firings to complete this process. The enamel shrinks with each firing and more has to be added until the spaces are filled. The firing process is complete when all spaces are filled evenly.

Cloisonne Enameling Lasts

After the firing is complete, the surface must be polished to a smooth finish. If there are wires where the enamel has not been applied, these are often gold plated to add the finishing touch to the pin. The astonishing beauty of the cloisonne pin is a lasting beauty. It is thought that the pins will last one hundred or more years without fading or showing any signs of wear.

Cloisonne enameling is a process where the design is actually the pin. There is not a surface to rub off or fade. They make great gifts for memorable occasions. This pin will be a reminder for many years of those special moments of recognition by an employer or perhaps for an anniversary or birthday. This decorative art never goes away.


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