by Margarete Seeler
from Vol. 5, No. 5, October 1986
Part 2 part
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...
...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.
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."
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
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?
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 bit
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
And now the foot; it is handmade - not
spun, of two parts that
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.
Over the same stake I raised a second
domed shape - cut it out
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.
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.
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.
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 wire
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.
Here the foot rests safely while the
enamel is applied. A trivet on a clean surface props up
the foot in a workable position.
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!
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.
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!)
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
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.