Cloisonné originally a French word meaning "enclosed" is a term used to describe a metalwork technique in which enamel-work is filled in between finely enclosed compartments of gold/silver wires.
The process of Cloisonné usually occurs in three stages.
- A thin wire of metal (usually gold/silver) is soldered/fixed on to a metal object featuring small compartments/cells - this forms a base design for the enamelling stage.
- Enamels of different colours are used to fill the 'cells' which were made in stage 1 and are filled to three different finishes: concave, convex and flat.
- Concave enamelling requires the enamel to not completely fill the cells, thus leaving the area of the 'wired-cells' higher than the enamel (forms a concave).
Convex enamelling requires an 'overfilling' of the 'cells' in order to create an effect in which the appearance of the enamel will seem 'popped out'/slightly rounded (convex shaped).
Flat enamelling is the middle ground of the two above, featuring a completely level distribution of enamelling in relation to the surrounding wired-cells. This creates a flush and seamless finish once the excess enamel has been ground down to a smooth surface.
Cloisonné is a technique utilised by many different nations, eras and metalsmiths. One iconic maker of cloisonné was Pavel Ovchinnikov (Павел Овчинников) during the Imperial Russia era - a highly regarded silversmith who was appointed court supplier and the imperial warrant of Russia in 1865.