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Cloisonne

Cloisonne Cup
 by Margarete Seeler
 from Vol. 5, No. 5, October 1986

Part 2  part 1

Figure 6Figure 6
     We can now concentrate on the cloisonne enamel.  To divide it into 6 equal sections, the cup is centered over circles drawn on paper and the 6 partitions are marked.  After placing and checking the cup on the vertical, I put 6 pieces of thread over the center hole with plastic tape.  With a Stabilo pencil, I marked lines along the threads and...

Figure 7Figure 7
     ...continue drawing the structure for the design of cloisons.  I used very simple shapes, glued them with Klyr Fire to the surface, section by section, and filled them right away with enamel - all the way around.  Soak the water out of the enamel with a tissue of Kleenex, and then place a drop of Klyr Fire on top of each cell.

Figure 8
     The flux underneath permits transparents side by side with opaque enamels.  To be able to turn the cup without touching the enamel, I screwed and wired a small trivet as a stop for the rim, and a larger one touching.  BUT WITH SOME ELASTICITY for the bottom of the cup and attached to strong wire mesh.  When faced with a question like:  how to invent a contraption for a special purpose?, it amuses me that my experience always tells me:  "Everything is right there - Just open your eyes."Figure 8
     After the cloisons were set, filled, and held by Klyr Fire, I thought that I was ready to fire - but, let me confess, my furnace ceiling was not high enough.  The cup standing upside down on the wire mesh touched the ceiling of the furnace.  I phoned a friend who lived 30 curvy miles away on a hilltop.  I told her, "Don't ask questions dear friend!  Just turn your furnace on high - I'll be there in 45 minutes!"  I placed the unfired cup into something like a safe box, by my side on the floor of my car.
     The cup and I arrived safely.  The furnace was hot, and the cup did not lose a grain of enamel, it came out perfect.  So much for Klyr Fire!  The following firings were done at the friend's furnace; after stoning all wires out I fired the cup one last time, quick and hot for good color, in the upside down position again.  But alas, the enamel in each cell had slid down; just enough to be impossible...There was only one answer.  Fire it standing on its round bottom.  But how?

Figure 9
     I put one of those small metal trivets into the cup, and stitched it tightly with iron wire to the wire mesh.  It stood.  If this sounds a Figure 9bit unprofessional to some of you - it is the only way to solve a problem with what is at hand.  If I had to make 50 cups, I would improve my inventions.
     When I saw that the cup would stand in the hot furnace, I watched for the moment that the enamel would slide back.  It did, and at that moment, I took the cup out.  I bathed it in Sparex, stoned lightly to get the even matt surface, waxed it, polished, gold plated, and here you see it.

Figure 10
     And now the foot; it is handmade - not spun, of two parts thatFigure 10 are soldered with hard silver solder and shaped over a stake.  It could have been raised, but I have aimed this whole project towards those enamelers who do not know too much about metalwork, but wish to widen their abilities.

Figure 11
     Over the same stake I raised a second domed shape - cut it Figure 11out and tied it over the first with iron wires and soldered it to its base.  The right of the picture shows the nut housing with the steel nut already in it; and the bottom rim on which the cup will stand.  Solder is placed on the inside, where it cannot harm the enamel.

Figure 12Figure 12
     As you can see, the orna- ment does not reach all the way up the foot.  I had to add 6 strips of copper by soldering.  Where these 6 strips meet the ornament, the seams will show.  I knew it.  It could not be avoided.  You will see the answer.  I drilled 6 small holes at the problem seams.

Figure 13Figure 13
     The wires are glued with Klyr Fire right on the copper.  There isn't any flux underneath as all the enamel on the foot is opaque.  However, the inside received a generous sifting of flux, held in place with the same glue.  Again I filled all cells at the same time, soaked the water out and put that drop of Klyr Fire on top of each cell.  I filled the cloisons just enough to hold the wires in place and avoid oxidation.

Figure 14
     There were more firings, and with them the danger of the piece warping out of shape just enough so as not to fit.  Do remember this little trick:  Form a substantial pillow of old iron binding wireFigure 14 and stuff it with moist ochre.  A piece of wire should stick out of the middle as a handle.  The ochre-wire pillow should be inserted into a hollow of the foot.  It is dried well before firing in a hot furnace.  It remains a bit crumbly, but holds well enough..  Insert it before each firing; a bit of wet ochre secures it.  To soak all moisture out, I inserted the foot upside down into a hole, which in this case was a plastic tape container padded with Kleenex.
 

Figure 15

 
Figure 15

     Here the foot rests safely while the enamel is applied.  A trivet on a clean surface props up the foot in a workable position.

 

Figure 16

Figure 16
     To enamel the base is about the same as the other parts.  See to it that the letters touch the rims, or you might get cracks.  It is most important that you apply a good layer of enamel on the inside, especially at the bottom rim!

Figure 17Figure 17
     All is ready for the final firing:  the last layer of enamel is packed above the cloisons, so that there will not be any low spots after stoning.

Figure 18

 
Figure 18

     All is finished, except for hiding the 6 holes in the foot (remember, dear enamelers, this is the way the old masters of the 12th century did it too!)

 

Figure 19Figure 19
     Six corals are set into curved bezels.  The bezels have a strong wire attached to the backside.  Each wire with attached bezel is inserted into the 6 holes of the foot.  The wires have had threads cut into them to secure the bezels to the foot.  Under the flat corals I have laid soft leather to make up for the curvature of the bezels.

Figure 20Figure 20
     Here is our cup!  The line of poetry on the foot reads in German:  TRINKT IHR AUGEN WAS DIE WIMPER HAELT VON DEM GOLD- NEN ÜBERFLUSS DER WELT.  In English:  DRINK YOU EYES WHAT THE LIDS CAN HOLD OF THE GOLDEN ABUNDANCE OF THE WORLD. 

 

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