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The Technical Process of Manufacturing Cloisonné

Date:2014年3月10日 17:28

Cloisonné, also called enamel, as a traditional Chinese arts and crafts production, has been defined as one of the intangible cultural heritages by the government of China. As early as during Jingtai years in Ming Dynasty (1450 ~ 1457), cloisonné production had already quite mature. Especially, when there were new breakthroughs with the blue glaze which had the intense color like sapphires, noble and gorgeous, it was called “Jingtai Lan” (in Chinese, Lan refers to blue) thereafter. Ever since then, the ancient artistic treasure has been developed over the years. Although cloisonné works are already provided with various colors now, they still follow the original appellation ——“Jingtai Lan”.

The process of manufacturing of cloisonné consists of the following six steps:

The first step: Conceptus preparation
This step is supposed to provide the product with aesthetic harmony as a whole. Whether a piece of cloisonné work is beautiful in shape and appearance depends on the conceptus preparation process. In this step, copper plates need to be prepared as per the drawing and be cut into different sectors or rounds which are made into copper bodies in various shapes with the use of hammers. Then the body, after being filled with welding flux at the joints between each part and under the effect of high-temperature soldering, forms the shape of copper body ware. Take the vase for example, it is made through hammer welding and soldering the vase mouth, body and holder. In Ming and Qing Dynasties, there were base-casting, base-selecting and base-carving, but with the development of technical skills, the conceptus preparation process can also be realized by adopting techniques of wheel pressing, rolling and revolving, etc. with the use of machinery. However, for those abnormal works

The second step: Wire inlay
According to the method of wire inlay, tweezers are used for pinching/dividing a soft, flat and slender copper wire with tenacity into various exquisite patterns per a layout, bletilla striata (a traditional Chinese herb) is used for dipping to prepare adhesive, and the adhesive is clung to a copper matrix. Then silver welding powders are screened, the copper matrix is roasted at the temperature of 900 DEG C, and copper wire patterns are firmly welded on the copper matrix. The technology of wire inlay is ingenious, and a technician can pinch vivid images through mature skills. Compared with other procedures, wire inlay is one of the most time-consuming and complex procedures in manufacturing the cloisonné.

The third step: Glazing
After the matrix with wire inlay is subject to the procedures of welding, pickling, flattening and screwing, it goes into the next step of glazing. The glaze materials for glazing are prepared by colorful pure natural ore powders. A glazing gun (a small metal spade) is used for stuffing the glaze materials into gaps of wires. The technician carefully selects and reasonably uses the colorful glaze materials according to imagination and aesthetic standard to manufacture gorgeous cloisonné with a harmonious combination of colors. After sintering at the high temperature of 700 DEG C, the glaze materials are melted and sunk, and secondary glaze stuffing is required. Therefore, the procedure of glazing needs to be repeated by three times until glaze materials and wiring patterns are leveled. Before liberation in China, color arrangement of cloisonné is dull, however, after liberation, by utilizing the skills of color applying, cover staining, elaborating, tick staining and the like, the expressive force for glazing of the cloisonné is enhanced. In order to elaborate changeable clouds, water, mist, exquisite reflection in water and so on, the glazing technician and the wire inlay technician jointly create a wireless corona method, i.e. dipping and staining glazing color of various shades in the same wiring gap to enable the glazing colors to naturally connect, so that the change of pattern shading is reflected, and the patterns of the cloisonné are enabled to be more colorful.

The forth step: Blueing
The blueing process is extremely important in the process of cloisonné enamel manufacturing. In the blueing process, the traditional method of heating by coal fire is used to increase the temperature in the furnace from 800°C to 1200°C, and the glaze can be melted, sintered. The burning shall last for 2 to 3 minutes approximately. Either heating too long or heating for insufficient time will affect the product quality, so the furnace temperature and blueing time are the key to decide the quality, just as the saying goes, “Seeking Materials from the Fire”. The technicians who are responsible for this process must have rich working experience.

The fifth step: Polishing
Polishing, also called “grinding work”, is the hardest and most tiring one in the whole process of cloisonné enamel manufacturing, including procedure of grinding, polishing and varnishing, etc. At first, the emery stone shall be used to rub down the glaze on the product surface which is higher than the wire work part and expose the copper wire. Then, the yellow stone shall be used to grind the burning light, black wire on the glaze. Afterwards, the basswood charcoal shall be used to dip the water the grind it horizontally and vertically, until the product is bright uniformly.

The sixth step: Gold-plating
This is the last main process in the cloisonné enamel manufacturing technology. It is to plate a coat of gold on the product surface to prevent the oxidation of product, make product more durable and durable. The product is placed into the gold liquid groove and performed with gold plating after being powered on. After completion, it is taken out to be washed out by clean water. All processes for cloisonné enamel manufacturing are completed and a perfect, delicate art ware of cloisonné enamel is made.

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