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What Is Enamel Essay

780 words - 4 pages

When Caesar conquered Britain, he found that the Celts were already using enamels and many examples of this early craft are in museums all around the British Isles with some very good examples in the British Museum. There is a mirror in Gloucester museum found at Birdlip in Gloucestershire with red enamel. They had used the champlevé technique, where a recess in the metal, either produced by casting, chasing or engraving is filled with opaque red, blue, white and green enamel. The enamel is polished flush with the divisions formed by the edges of the cells. The later Saxon hanging bowls found in the Sutton Hoo boat burial are some of the finest early champlevé work.

In the 9th Century AD ...view middle of the document...

The Royal Gold Cup of the Kings of France and England was certainly made in Paris in 1380-1390 and may be found in the British Museum, where it is one of the most important treasures. This piece, although restored and added to, still shows the original colours as vibrant as the day that it was first fired. It is one of the best examples of the durability and longevity of enamels.

By the 15th Century the skills of enamellers were gaining in complexity. The earliest known use of the plique-a-jour technique was in the 13th Century. The technique involves the use of translucent or transparent enamels fused to form a span across a network of cells, without a backing under the enamel. The enamel is thus the structure of the piece – a shell supported within the network of metal cells. It is similar to cloisonné but without the base support. Often a temporary backing is used to support the enamel during the firing and then it is removed by dissolving or polishing when the piece is complete. This is undoubtedly the most difficult technique of enamelling, but the results can be very spectacular. The silver gilt Mérode cup in the Victoria and Albert Museum dates from the 15th Century and is thought to be of...

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