Monday, 31 August 2009


Placing the copper wire on the shape.

Filling the design from the pallette of colours

Polishing down the finished object

When we decided to travel independently, rather than in a tour, we thought we might hire a private guide for some trips; we didn’t realise then that a day with a car, driver and English speaking guide would cost only £50. Part of the deal, though, with any guided trip whether in a group or on your own is the shopping. You get ferried to factories and enterprises, shown around and given the opportunity to buy.

This was one of our first experiences of that kind. We were on our way to the Great Wall and the guide took us to this Cloisonné (Chinese enamel ware) factory. The factory itself was fascinating, a seemingly haphazard amalgam of stunning colours, base material and shambolic apparatus leading to a fantastic product. I tried to capture the effect photographically; here are some of the results.

The Cloisonné technique involves placing copper wires on a base shape, repeatedly filling the troughs with enamel and firing until the glaze is built up. It is then polished down and the wire electroplated. We did buy a vase, even though it appeared a little expensive, but the quality of it is much higher than the copies you can buy cheaply on the streets.

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