is a vitreous material composed of silica, feldspar, kaolin and
metal oxides, in the form of crystals. These metal oxides are
either naturally occurring or added by the artist, and they are
what give enamels their infinite variety of colours. The mixture
is then vitrified at very high temperature.
But before the enamel is applied, there is a delicate technical
phase that involves delimiting the cells to be filled with enamel.
There are two main techniques:
- Cloisonné : gold wires are bent to outline
the decorative pattern, creating cells where the enamel will
be applied with a brush or quill.
- Champlevé : the metal is carved away
and the resulting cells are filled with enamel.
enamellist then carefully selects the desired colours and fills
the cells with finely ground enamel crystals.
Next comes the firing phase.
This is a very delicate step, because after the long weeks of
painstaking work, everything depends on these last few minutes.
firing, between 800 and 900 °C depending on the colours, is
done under the watchful and experienced eye of the enamellist.
Indeed, knowing how to judge the perfect firing conditions is
a matter of experience, because a few extra seconds or a few degrees
difference can compromise many hours of hard work.
All of these steps must be repeated several times, as 4 to 10
firings are necessary to bring our all the intensity of the colours.
In addition to all these other techniques, we are also specialists
in miniature painting, a technique often used for the reproduction
of works of great masters.
The enamel is ground and mixed with special oils to obtain a
material similar to paint.
It is then applied in minute quantities with a brush, making
this technique certainly the most time-consuming and difficult
to master. Numerous layers are applied and the enamel is fired
between each layer, allowing the colours to reveal all their nuances
and radiant beauty.
This demanding craftsmanship requires incredible focus, and miniaturists
often devote themselves entirely to this art. It is an art in
its own right within the world of enamels!
Once the piece is finished, it is unalterable.
Enamel retains all its beauty and radiance for centuries without
ever showing signs of wear.