Cloisonne is the art of metal enamelling. It originated in the Near East and was introduced into China in the 13th century.

Copper wires are soldered to form the pattern outline on a metal object. Enamel paste is placed within the spaces or cells (the French word "cloisons" means partitions). The object is then fired in a kiln to vitrify (make it glass like) the enamel. The enameling and firing process is repeated until the cloisons are filled. It is then ground smooth and polished. Electroplating with a thin layer of gold to prevent corrosion is the final touch.

The effect is much like stained glass windows. Many decorative objects are made this way including vases, plates but surely the most challenging must be the tiny cloisonne beads we can use for beading! I have delicate round blue ones like those in the picture and black tubes. So be sure to check them out at the next party or workshop.

Pictorial guide to the making of cloisonne in China

For tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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