Inlaying techniques Cloisonne Cloisonne enamel ware is a metal working technique where a multi-colored glassy glaze is baked onto a metal surface and is similar to works developed before the Christian era in the ancient Mesopotamia and Egyptian cultures. Cloisonne is said to have traveled from Southeast Europe, to China via the Silk Road, and eventually to Japan.

In English, this is called "cloisonne enamel", but in Japanese it is known as "Shippo" [七宝焼]. "Shippo" means "Seven Treasures" and is taken from the Buddhist Sutra describing the beauty of seven kinds of treasure being spread out.

HISTORY Cloisonne enamel ware has been archeologically discovered in Japan in ancient mound tombs of the 7th Century. From that time onward, it was sometimes used in fixtures in temples and castles. Cloisonne enamel ware spread throughout Japan due to the discovery of a manufacturing technique by Tsunekichi Kaji of Nagoya City in 1833. Since then, the manufacturing of cloisonne enamel ware rapidly spread, with Owari in Aichi Prefecture becoming the center of production.

Cloisonne enamel ware first became internationally recognized in the mid 19th Century at the International exposition. Since its introduction at the Paris International Exposition in 1867, many pieces of cloisonne enamel ware from Japan have been displayed at every International Exposition. Many artisans from Aichi, such as Kodenji Hayashi, received awards for their works, spreading the fame of Owari cloisonne enamel ware.

From the mid 19th Century to the beginning of the 20th Century, various creative designs were added by Owari cloisonne, but due to suspension of production during World War II and other factors, some techniques have been lost. However, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated Sippo as a traditional handicraft representing Japan in 1985.


Sheets mainly of copper are hammered into the base shape. Here, "squeeze equipment" using lathe and an iron rod, or "hand pressing" by hammering the copper sheets by hand with tools are carried out.

After preparation of the base is completed, an outline of the picture is inked on the surface. There are two ways, directly drawing onto the copper sheet, or drawing after white enamel is applied over the entire surface and then fired.

Silver wire is glued over the inked outline on the surface of the vase. The glue is made from the root of the Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata) that has been dried and finely ground.

After completing the edgeline insertion, the vase is held in place by the "Uma." Glaze is applied between the raised edgelines. Cloisonne glaze is mainly composed of saltpeter and silica, to which metal oxide is added for color. The glaze is then placed in a melting pot and heated.

These days, an electric kiln is used. Generally, firing is conducted at 700-800C for 10 minutes, but will vary according to type of glaze, as well as shape and size of the product.

After firing, the glassy shine of the cloisonne surface is brought out. The surface is polished, highlighting the contours of the metal lines of the design. In the past, a whetstone and charcoal from Japanese Bigleaf Magnolia were used, but today industrial diamonds are used.

Finally, silver or silver-plated rings are attached to the top and bottom of the vase.

Examples (from the web)