|Antique Cloisonne comes from the French word "cloison," which means cell or the walls that form the cell. These
cloisonne cells are separated from one another by metal wires soldered or glued into a suitable base and allows for separation of the enamel colors. Enamels tend to run into one another when they are fired, which would destroy the design, and the mixture of colors would result in gray, muddy tones. So, the use of wire offers a unique palette for the various multicolored, intricate designs of flowers, birds, branches, leaves and other graceful scenes found in collectible
Collectors usually consider Chinese and Japanese Cloisonne to be in a class by themselves. The Chinese and Japanese antique
Cloisonne is similar in that they both have oriental designs and motifs, shapes and forms, and they are the purest form of
cloisonne technique. The Cloisonn'e pieces from the west usually involve 2 to 3 different techniques in one piece. Generally, champlev'e, repouss'e, or high relief in cast bronze or gold. Most of the European
Cloisonne was done on plaques or slabs that were ultimately attached to doors or walls, or used as decorative pieces on frames, furniture or vessels.
Cloisonne art is somewhat limited in expression with most of its beauty being in the intricate design and brilliantly colored enamels. The Collectible Chinese
cloisonne, Fo dog, from the late 17th or early 18th century is perhaps the largest Antique
Cloisonne in existence at 7 feet 91/2 inches tall. It is not uncommon to see oriental antique
cloisonne pieces that are six feet tall.
Collectors should be particularly careful about paying a high price for pieces that are marked "Made in the Ching-t'ai Period" or "Made in the Great Ming Period," thinking that they have acquired an authentic Ming piece. Even those that specialize in collecting Antique
Cloisonne have been unable to locate an authentic specimen of the Hsuan-te or even Chia-ching or Wan-li periods. Occasionally, one is fortunate enough to find Ch'ien-lung pieces, but avid collectors quickly acquire these collectible pieces.
Increased availability of cloissonne at more affordable prices in the modern years has made it increasingly popular. If a collector does not limit himself to only antique cloisonn'e there are new pieces from China, Japan, and Taiwan that are equally as beautiful and the quality of these modern pieces are kept to the original exacting standards.