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Cloisonné is a famous traditional enamelware with a history of over 500 years. Cloisonné is one of the famous arts and crafts of Beijing. The making of cloisonné requires rather elaborate and complicated processes: base-hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, polishing and gilding. Base-hammering of body is the first step in the making of cloisonné. The material used for making the body is copper, because copper is easily hammered and stretched. This step requires a sound judgment in the shaping and uniformity of thickness and weight. It is in fact the work of the copper-smith. The only difference is that when an article is shaped, the copper-smith's work is finished, whereas the cloisonné craftsman's work has just begun. The second step is filigree soldering. This step requires great care and high creativeness. The artisan adheres copper strips onto the body. These strips are of 1/16 inch in diameter and of lengths as the artisan desires. The strips of filigree thus adhered make up a complicated but complete pattern. The artisan has a blueprint in mind and he can make full use of his experience, imagination and aesthetic view in setting the copper strips on the body. The third step is to apply color which is known as enamel filling. The color or enamel is like the glaze on ceramics. It is called falang. Its basic elements are boric acid, saltpeter and alkaline. Owing to the difference in the minerals added, the color differs accordingly. Usually one with much iron will turn gray, with uranium, yellow, with chromium, green, with zinc, white, with bronze, blue, with gold or iodine, red. The colors are ground into minute powder and applied in the cells separated by filigree. The fourth step is enamel firing. This is done by putting the article, with its enamel filling, into a kiln. After a short moment, the copper body will turn red. But after firing, the enamel in the little compartments will sink down a bit. That will require a re-filling. This process will go on repeatedly until the little cells are filled. The fifth step is polishing. The first polish is with emery. Its aim is to make the filigree and the filled compartments even. The whole piece is again put to fire, then polished once more with a whet-stone. Finally, a piece of hard carbon is used to polish again so as to obtain some luster on the surface of the article. The sixth step is gilding. This is done by placing the article in fluid of gold or silver, changed with electric current. The exposed parts of the filigree and the metal fringes of the article will again undergo another electroplating and a slight polish.

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