Any faux cloisonne experts? :)

Fori is not pleasedFebruary 6, 2012

I've been trying to organize some junk. That always gets me in trouble. I love this vase because the colors are great.

It's stamped "CHINA" and seems coppery. Very lightweight, about 9" tall. I'd guess midcenturyish.

What is this type of stuff called? I don't think it's cloisonne but it does have the raised metal dividers. I don't think it's paint, though.


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Gosh, I don't know why one wouldn't call it cloissone. They're done in enamel over metal, traditionally brass but could be copper or any other metal.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 1:22PM
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By definition cloisonne has the cloisons filled, fired, filled and then polished. This piece appears to have had the re filling and polishing step omitted. And it's probably done with a glaze like paint and never fired.
I guess I also would call it cloisonne....just not very good cloisonne.
Looks more 1920-ish to me than mid century....Colors are great..
Oh and it looks like brass to me! What's on the inside?
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Fori is not pleased

Exactly! I thought cloisonne was more flat. This is quite bumpy, which is why it's dirty. Everything snags on the wires. Now, if you take the time to clean each little cloison individually, it's nice and glossy.

I thought the foot looked sort of reddish but I don't know my metals.

The inside looks...dark. With flash:

It has a dent, and some chips out of the blue near the dent. The dent doesn't show at this angle but the chips sort of do--they're not huge. Looks glassy not painty but I dunno. I guess I should not polish this?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Cloissone may be done by more than one method, and it's not always polished. No, it isn't always flat. There is a form of cloissone called concave, and actually the way the enamel is dimensional, thickest at the wire, suggest this may be a possibility. I surely couldn't tell if it's just painted by looking at a picture and I used to work in a paints and finishes testing laboratory.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 3:55PM
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It's definitely enamel. I'm an artist, I used to do enameling, and a bit of cloisonne, too. You took extremely good pictures, that makes it easy. There are ways to tell.

A certain kind of bubble will appear, and show up as a round pit: you have those.

Gradation between colors within a have good shots of that, too. At the area of transition between green and yellow, you will be able to see the individual granules of ground glass. No mixture of paint will show that.

Stray specks of the wrong color that blew onto another color: it has those too.

It's enamel, just not the ground down and polished kind. I actually like this more: I like the dimensionality.

I remember asking my cloisonne teacher: "What if I don't WANT to grind it down?" She looked at me and said, "Then all your imperfections will show." I only ground down the pieces I showed in class, everything else I kept with the wires showing higher.

The base metal could be copper. It may have been gold plated afterward. There is no problem electroplating metal after enameling. I know a famous enamellist from Russia who enamels on silver (silver is the best metal for enamelling), then gold plates everything.

The base metal could be cast brass, but then it would have to be copper plated before enameling, because you can�t enamel directly onto brass; it contaminates the colors. I have a pair of large purchased vases, that I think are copper plated brass. Brass can be cast into the basic shape, and is less expensive than copper. Copper on its own doesn't cast well. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc (only about 15 to 20% zinc).

Your basic shape has been cast, then machined clean. You can tell by the circles on the bottom.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for all the info! I'll have to get a Q-tip to clean it. And then go over it with some tweezers to remove the fuzz from the swab. Ug.

It's weird, but this thing really does photograph well!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Thank you linnea for the excellent commentary on it. It's a pretty piece and it's too easy to not appreciate some of the craft work coming out of places like India or Asia. It's prejudicial to assume they're cheaply made. With wages what they are/were there, some pieces are very intricate and time intensive and no way could you find a similar occidental piece for the same money.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:01PM
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