Ancient Art Form Meets High Desert

Ancient Art Form Meets High Desert

This Christmas Redtail Air Adventures is offering a very special and unique cloisonne globe ornament that celebrates Moab. It features the cliffs and canyons of our beautiful area, the mountains and blue sky, and even the Colorado River. Flying through all this beauty is the Yippie Moab, Redtail Air’s yellow WACO biplane! Colorful, gold-plated—a delightful and astonishing work of art—each handcrafted piece unique.

So what is cloisonne (cloy zo nay)? Just some kind of enameled jewelry? That, and much more! With a little investigation, it proves to be a remarkable and very ancient technique developed to decorate metalwork objects. The name is French, referring to the partitions which hold enamel, but it dates back to distant times in the Near East. The technique has been refined over centuries, spreading from the Byzantine Empire to China, and finally to Europe by the 18th century. 

In older periods, inlays of gemstones, glass and other materials were used with enamel, but in recent centuries vitreous (glass-like) enamel is the primary decorative material.

The technique is astonishing. First the metal object has to be made, usually of copper. Then very thin metal wires are attached to the object to form predetermined patterns of cloisons (partitions) that will be filled with enamel. The wire must be very carefully bent and shaped so that it lays smoothly on the metal object, creating the overall design. Adhering the wire is a three step process. After preparing the enamel in various colors, another painstaking process, the enamel is placed in each cloison, allowed to dry, and then fired. This process may be repeated several times, until each cloison is filled. Finally the top edges of the cloison wires are polished, or electroplated with gold. 

It is hard enough to imagine doing this on a flat piece of metal. Imagine working on a globe! A silk keepsake box is included. Please come in and see these beautiful ornaments at 23 N. Main. Open daily; opening and closing hours vary. Please give us a call at 355-0889.

Submitted by Linda Schmidt

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