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Cloisonné Making Skills

Cloisonné Making Skills

Beijing Cloisonné technology is also called copper wiry enamel. The technology developed during the Jingtai reign (1450-1457) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with the main color used being blue, hence the name “Jingtai blue”. After a design is agreed the object to be created is first shaped from copper and fired.  The decorative design is then applied using hair-thin copper wires which are pinched, temporarily glued and then welded to the surface of the cast. The concave designs are then filled with enamel and glaze of different colors. After being fired, polished and a final touch of gilding, a cloisonné product is finished.

Cloisonné technique combines both local and foreign metallic enamel skills. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Directorate for Imperial Accoutrements and the Palace Workshops established many enamel workshops to provide special service for the royal families in Beijing, and craftspeople prospered. However, Beijing Cloisonné crafts later declined during the periods of social unrest. SinceSince The National Government undertook active policies to protect and support the traditional techniques until 1949 and so the craft rapidly recovered and developed.

Cloisonné Making Skills

Cloisonné production involves very complicated techniques, with numerous procedures, combining the skills of bronze art, enamel art, traditional paintings and metallic engraving technology. It reflects the traditions that Chinese craftspeople in different traditional handicrafts have learned and shared with each other. Cloisonné products are endowed with imperial arts, elegant in style, complicated in pattern and splendid in color. The products have high artistic quality. Moreover, Cloisonné products have been selected for significant exhibitions both in and outside China, winning honors for our country, and are also selected as the precious national gifts presented to foreign guests.

The growing market economy led to many merchants producing sub-standard Cloisonné products, with lower artistic qualities and poor production techniques. On the one hand, the market was flooded with numerous faulty goods, which naturally had a bad effect on the market, whilst on the other hand the genuine Cloisonné manufacturing facilities were unable to compete with the cheap imitations, and faced economic hardship.  Consequently the number of Cloisonné master craftsmen and successors has declined. There is currently a strong risk that the excellent ancient techniques will decline, or even be lost without strong support and protection for a highly-regarded craft.