Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Color Your World with Cloisonné

Hey, cloisonné: you're looking fine after all these years. What's your secret?

In support of our exhibition Mirroring China's Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes, we're introducing a resplendent range of colorful product in this timeless technique.

Cloisonné is a process of enameling a metal form, whereby fine wires are used to delineate decorative areas (cloisons in French, hence cloisonné) into which enamel paste is applied. Finally, the piece is kiln-fired and polished to enhance its vibrancy.

Smaller cloisonné objects such as jewelry were found in the tombs of Pharaohs, but the introduction of enamel around the 12th century B.C. immensely enhanced the possibilities of coloration and level of sophistication.  Over subsequent centuries, the practice expanded to decorative objects displaying increasingly intricate detail.

The first instances of Chinese cloisonné appeared around the mid-15th century, preceding the establishment of 18th-century imperial workshops. Eventually, the heavy bronze or brass base bodies were exchanged for significantly lighter copper vessels. Authentic examples of the former can be spotted in our exhibition.  Our line is executed in copper, resulting in a more lightweight and versatile object.

This updated iteration is perfect for jewelry and flexible decorating, yet retains the authenticity of individual craftsmanship. Our assortment interprets time-tested ingenuity for modern life. It is ancient artistry with longevity. Get your own instant heirloom today:

To view our entire collection of unique gifts, visit the Museum Shop online:

Proceeds from all purchases support the Art Institute of Chicago's many programs.

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