Talk:Cloisonné

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Old stuff[edit]

The illustration is a brilliant object, but is that cloisonne technique? Wetman 06:54, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)


What makes this cloisonne is the boundary at the edge of each leaf. The headress was the most spectacular object I saw during a two week trip. It is destined for an imperial headdress page soon.

The recent addtions of the factory work in process completes the page - stub status removed. Leonard G. 01:41, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Does someone have some kind of source on the origin of Cloisonné? Other pages says it originally from Beijing?--83.221.136.33 22:07, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

I have done some silver smithing and enamel work and thought I would add some things to this page. Brass is not used for enameling because enamel will not stick to it. Soldering cloisonné wires is very difficult. I did that on the first coisonné piece I made, balancing little chips of solder on the wires. But when I enameled it bubbles came up from the soldered areas. Every time I re-fired it, it got worse. I think Cloisonné originated in France. Zen-in (talk) 05:38, 6 December 2007 (UTC)


"The bends are all done at right angles, so that wire does not curve up."

Can you explain this a bit better? I see curves in the illustrations, not right angles. Rpstrong (talk) 16:54, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Better late than never I guess. The wire is bent at right angles to it's length. This is important when it is a sharp bend because the metal base is almost always flat.Zen-in (talk) 04:05, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Cleaned up the first part of this article. There was some confusion with polychrome gem inlay added recently. Also enamel is not poured into the cells. It is a fine powder when it is used. Zen-in (talk) 04:13, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Scope[edit]

Copied from my talk Johnbod (talk) 18:26, 6 November 2009 (UTC) Hello. I took a look at the cloisonne enamel article and noticed what looked to me to be a couple of inaccuracies, possibly resulting from your edits. I would be interested in knowing where the term gemstone cloisonne came from. I have always considered gemstone inlay to be a very different technique from cloisonne, having done both. There were a few other areas where the article needed some cleaning up. I think a nice photo of Byzantine or other early cloisonne should be added near the beginning of this article. You have done a lot of good work with fine arts pages so I thought you might have something that is suitable. Zen-in (talk) 04:28, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

No, the title of the article is Cloisonné & its the only one we have, so should cover the gemstone technique to, or be moved to Cloisonné enamel. Are you saying you are unaware that Cloisonné is used for the stones? Well it is - see here for example. Obviously it is a very different technique, but they share the plain term. Johnbod (talk) 04:43, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
The subject of stone inlay is already covered under the topic of that name. Some artisans use the term cloisonné stone so maybe something needs to be added to the stone inlay page stating that. cloisonné enameling and stone inlay are very different techniques. You can't create a cloisonné and then either fill it with stones or enamel. If you try to describe the two techniques as one, it just creates confusion. If you look hard enough you will find cloisonné used to describe a lot of different things. That doesn't mean they should all be lumped into this article or that forks should be made. Zen-in (talk) 18:22, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
No, sorry, pietra dura is a totally different thing, on an architectural or at least furniture scale, and anyway, not cloisonné as there is no metal between the stones. Cloisonné with stones is a jewellery technique. I'm copying this to the talk page, where it should be continued. Johnbod (talk) 18:26, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Well maybe there should be a separate page about stone inlay, as it is used to create jewellry, boxes and other small objects. The term cloisonné with stones is a recently coined marketing term used to describe polychrome stone inlay. I'm in favor of re-naming this page cloisonné enamel and then you can create all the forks you want on other putative cloisonnés. Zen-in (talk) 18:45, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid you don't know much about the subject! Cloisonné jewellery is especially a feature of "Dark Ages" Migration Period art, from sites like Sutton Hoo (whose picture you removed), and other very old cultures, . I'm not sure it isn't the first technique to which the term was applied in French, but anyway its use is very well established among museums, art historians etc.[1] Quite a large number of the links coming here clearly refer to gemstone work (Treasure of Gourdon for example) so I think a rename should be discussed first. Johnbod (talk) 19:17, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
It really isn't productive to insult me. I have worked in silver and gold for almost 40 years and have created several pieces of cloisonné. My perspective is that of an artisan and so exact terminology is more important to me. The image you accuse me of removing was removed by someone else. The earliest cloisonné (glass) known is Egyptian from 1500 BC. Previous to that polychrome stone work was done. This article was, I believe originally called Cloisonné enamel and has been renamed. Polychrome gemstone inlay really needs to be handled in a separate article. Merging a lapidary technique with a kiln technology in an article will never work. Zen-in (talk) 20:11, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think I insulted you, just stated the facts. If you remember I suggested the possibility of splitting the articles in my first comment, when you were still in denial, although it is a pity both will be short stubs. I don't wholly agree a split is necessary; with extra clarification a combined article could work, & save people a lot of jumping between pages. You were confused because you thought the gemstone stuff "inaccurate" etc. Readers who don't assume they they know it all already would not have found the lead confusing, though the history paras need(ed) splitting. I see in fact the image (Staffordshire Hoard not Sutton Hoo) was only moved to the gallery & is still there. If you look at it you will have a better idea of what we are talking about. Johnbod (talk) 20:42, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Your continued insults don't do any good. I suggest you review wp:civil. This article is a metal-working article. Your earlier edits attempted to merge Cloisonné enamel technique with stone inlay, which didn't make any sense. I acknowledge that some art historians get the terms and materieals mixed up. Polychrome gemstone inlay work was done by the Egyptians first. They didn't call it Cloisonné. How about Niello? That is sometimes done with fine wires. Should Niello Cloisonné be included as well? No, because the definitive term is the media. Stone inlay is done with stone. The term Cloisonné, by itself refers to a Cloisonné enameled object. Since this is a metalworking article and not an art history article, metalworking terms should prevail. Zen-in (talk) 23:17, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
So everybody's wrong except you. It's hardly surprising the ancient Egyptians didn't speak French. Those poor mixed up dudes at the Metropolitan & British Museum, without you to set them straight. Johnbod (talk) 23:43, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
They are probably not as mixed up as you think, if indeed you do. Zen-in (talk) 00:05, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Adding more to the article, it is clear that in Ancient Egypt, the Migration Period and the Byzantine Enpire, cloisonné objects of virtually identical appearance used both gemstones and gall-paste/enamel, presumably the enamel being the budget option. So I think it is clearer the article should stay united. Obviously the case is quite different in East Asia, but I think the difference is now much clearer. Johnbod (talk) 18:39, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

You are pushing your own POV here. Enamel and glass paste are very different. The techniques for using glass paste, enamel and stone are very different. Merging all of this is very naive. If you are not willing to compromise I will file a complaint. You have insulted me, not agreed to any compromise I have proposed and even withdrawn your offer to split the article when I agreed. If you want to steamroll over this article with your own POV I have no other choice put to file a complaint. Zen-in (talk) 18:50, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Do you know how much testing has been done on the Staffordshire Hoard sword hilt? It is still dirt encrusted yet bright gold is visible below the inlays. If that was a garnet inlay the mud would have seeped down below the stone and the gold would not be as bright. Garnet and glass have close to the same hardness. I don't know if a refractive index test can be done without removing the stone. If it is in fact an enamel piece, the melted enamel would have sealed and conformed to the gold pattern at the bottom. Zen-in (talk) 19:25, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

This is a fantasy - gold and garnet inlay is extremely common - see here or do a google search. It would be far more surprising if it were enamel from this location & date. Johnbod (talk) 20:54, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I asked you what test they have done to ascertain that it is in fact garnet and not enamel. This is a very recent find. The fact that the patterned gold shows so bright through the stone/enamel after being buried for almost 1500 years makes me think it is enamel. Zen-in (talk) 21:35, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Here's a link on that from the pdf summary on the Staffordshire Hoard website (English Heritage/the councils etc) “Cloisonné garnet work, in which the precious stones are set in gold-walled cells, appears on 149 objects" [2]. Johnbod (talk) 04:17, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
  • In the last day you have done extensive edits to this page, completely changing its focus. Cloisonne means cloisonne enamel. The term has also been used to describe stone inlay, but this is a term that has been adopted recently. It compares stone inlay to cloisonne enamel. I don't object to including some references to this alternative use of the word cloisonne. In fact my last edit, before you reverted it, included that. However it is factually incorrect to completely change the focus of this article. I suggest you create a page called "polychrome stone inlay" or something similar and have your many references to stone cloisonne go there instead. The only similarity between stone cloisonne and enamel cloisonne is in the name. The metalworking techniques are completely different, and the appearance is very different. I have tried to reason with you and have proposed several compromises, even agreeing to some you had earlier suggested. Instead of any compromise on your part you have steam-rolled over this article with your own WP:POV, and reverted my edits repeatedly. Zen-in (talk) 18:38, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
  • My edits have merely restored the "focus" the article had had for some time before you reverted my "inaccuracies". I have added referenced material from a wide range of authoritative sources - you have nothing but your original research derived from your own experience, which you now appear to be making up as you go along. Take it where you like - Wikipedia:Content noticeboard would be the obvious place - & see what happens. Did you actually look at the online references before you removed them? That would be enough to dispel your fantasy that cloisonné only means enamel. The oldest reference now in the article is a scholarly work from 1956, which talks of the two types of cloisonné with no indication either sense is "recent", which i'm sure they are not. Johnbod (talk) 20:10, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
  • You need to create your own article, or create a subfield in stone inlay. Cloisonné as it pertains to stone inlay is just a descriptive term that has been borrowed from Cloisonné enameling recently (within 50-100 years) by art students like yourself. You are adding all kinds of nonsense like "glass paste" "pouring enamel into cloisonnes" and trying to describe the three techniques as one. Talk of glass paste does not belong in an art or metal craft article. It belongs in costume jewellry. You don't know what you are talking about so please go do it in an art POV article. Zen-in (talk) 21:11, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
No, I'm afraid that is you, & glass-paste is used by the Metropoloitan etc. I don't pretend to know when glass-paste becomes enamel - I expect there is a good degree of overlap. Since no type of cloisonné is used for anything other than decorative purposes, I'm afraid any attempt to separate "art POV" from honest metalworking is doomed. I see you are vandalizing again - can't you see that no link to Pietra dura has any place in this article? I may have to take this to the content board myself. Johnbod (talk) 21:16, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
This is a metalworking article, not an Metropolitan art museum guide. They can call the sky any color they want for all I care. Paste is a modern 19th century creation, used in costume jewellry, usually faceted with foil backs. You could call glass beads paste, but no-one does. Glass imitation stones were not used in gold art objects, except perhaps by a thief in the process of stealing a gemstone. Enamel is always fired. It is not poured or made into paste and hammered into gold enclosures as you say. Your attempts to edit this article show the extent of your ignorance of metalworking techniques. Since you don't know the first thing about this subject your "research" is also flawed. Speedy flawed citations are useless. Please go away and let me work on this article. I know this subject much better than you and will add the appropriate citations. I will also include references to the "stone cloisonne" that you are so fixated on. Zen-in (talk) 21:32, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Yeh, right. When you've finished, don't forget to contact all the museums to tell them they've been getting it wrong. Poor old Tutankhamun, being taking in by that cheap 19th century stuff they used on his death mask! [3] Johnbod (talk) 21:42, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
That's a very interesting piece, thanks for showing it to me. However it is not enamel any more than Niello is enamel. Why don't you research that sword hilt some more? It sure looks like enamel to me. Why is the gold still bright under the garnet/enamel? Why, after over 1500 years, hasn't water seeped underneath and discolored it? Where is turquoise mined in England or even Europe? Where was such a large quantity of gem grade garnet mined? Why does the color differ so much from known specimens of pigeon blood garnet? Why is it so similar to known colors of enamel? Zen-in (talk) 23:35, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't do original research, and nor should you. The pieces are described as glass-paste, not enamel; do try to keep up. The turquoise is Egyptian. Johnbod (talk) 00:25, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
This article is not a museum brochure and no-one is asking you to do original research. Original research would be asking you to conduct tests on the sword hilt and then report them on wikipedia. Since you like using that image you should find out what they have recently learned about it. ie: any recent publications. I have been editing this article for several years, occasionally cleaning up some messes like "The basic elements of enamel are boric acid, saltpetre and alkaline." You should understand that museum curators are not infallible and sometimes use technically incorrect terminology. Just because you see it used once or twice, by doing a Google search, that doesn't mean the usage is correct. A lot of modern words have been miss-applied in describing ancient and medieval metalwork. The blue Egyptian item you referenced is likely some kind of low-fire glaze, combined with cuprates, etc. It would not contain silicon dioxide, the main component of glass. So technically it is not paste or enamel, which are glass. Enamel, even though it is high-fire and contains SiO2, is not paste. Paste refers to gem imitations made from glass, usually faceted, and is a modern creation. What the museum image describes as "paste" is enamel and the enameling method is called Champlevé. This technically incorrect terminology is ok for museum catalogs but is not suitable in a metalworking article. Zen-in (talk) 05:24, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Your combination of arrogance and ignorance is breathtaking. You had made only one edit to the article before you recently started removing material you were unaware of. You have never added a reference to the article. This behaviour is Disruptive editing; I notice that the other group of articles you have edited ended up at ANI. I suggest you stop this behaviour. Johnbod (talk) 09:41, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes that was an interesting experience. All my edits to those articles still stand and the complainer got cited for wp:coi, wp:pov, and wp:or. Your original edit to this page, in Sept. subverted its purpose. Why don't you dial back the flaming a notch and try to be reasonable? I have tried to explain to you that terminology in one field is not applicable in another. This is a jewellry and enameling article. The primary meaning of cloissone is cloisonne enamel. It is only in recent times that some people (museum catalogers and not goldsmiths) have used the term to describe stone inlay work. I have tried to compromise with you but you are just digging in your heals and being abusive. The erroneous content you keep returning with, such as "enamel is poured", "stones are hammered", "paste or enamel", "enamel or stones are installed between the fine cloisonne wire" etc., destroy the integrity of this article. I have patiently explained to you why these additions are wrong and you have not even tried to understand. You want to merge 3 very distinct jewellry/craft techniques into one article: stone inlay, cloisonne enamel, and costume jewellry with paste (glass). You are unable to see the distinction between these three techniques. Stone inlay already has a page. This page was entirely about cloisonne enamel before your edits in Sept. I have stated several times that it is ok to add a line or two stating that cloisonne in recent years has come to mean stone inlay to some people. If you look for books with the word cloisonne in the title, they will all be about enamel cloisonne. Zen-in (talk) 17:45, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

No, it is you who are refusing consistently to face the facts beyond what you were told at night school or whereever. You began by removing the material as "inaccurate", simply because you didn't know about it. You have now had to accept, with various haverings and silly caveats, that the material is indeed accurate, and to incorporate a garbled and erroneous version in your last edits. You must surely understand that I can't be expected to give any credibility to your frequent assertions of expertise in this area - this would only be relevant to the long "how-to" section on the modern Chinese-style technique, which my edits have never touched.
Let me explain a few of the reasons why I'm going to have to revert your latest version:
1) You have yet again linked stone inlay, which goes to pietra dura. You have always been insistent this is the right place for material on gemstone inlays, but it plainly isn't, referring to work in different materials (normally marble etc not gemstones), using different techniques not involving metal at all, and on a totally different scale, often many feet across, not a few inches.
2)"Each color is separated from the others by silver or gold wires and has the appearance of stone inlay, which has also, in recent times, been referred to as cloisonné." Where to start? Neither gemstone nor enamel cloisonné remotely looks like pietra dura, and gemstone cloisonné, along with old Western and Egyptian enamel cloisonné does not use "wire" at all, a point you seem to find really hard to grasp, despite it being very clearly illustrated by the Visigothic brooch pic that has been in the article since 2004, long before either of us started editing it. At first you stoutly denied that "cloisonné" was used for gemstone works at all, then (above here) it was "recently coined marketing term" then "some art historians get the terms and materieals mixed up" then "This is a metalworking article, not an Metropolitan art museum guide. They can call the sky any color they want for all I care" and "You should understand that museum curators are not infallible and sometimes use technically incorrect terminology" and more ranting. All this time there has been no hint of a citation to anything from you. You say "recently" but this is plainly invented by you - you have no idea how long the term has been used - as I have shown it is used as an established one in a scholarly book of 1956. Even if it were "borrowed from Cloisonné enameling recently (within 50-100 years) by art students like yourself", which I very much doubt - would that matter in the slightest? All your other articles seem to be on electrical topics with titles less than 100 years old.
3)Have you actually looked at your 2 history sections? They are about 70% repetitions of the same sentences (nearly all by me).
  • The way forward As far as I am concerned WP allows no compromise between accurate referenced material (that would be mine) and uninformed and unreferenced OR (your attempts to edit it). I will do a version that includes some of your points. I don't object to saying that enamel cloisonné is the main type produced in the last few centuries, and will remove the pouring of enamel until I refind the reference for it, which no doubt need to be restricted by period etc. There should be no mention of "stone" anywhere in this article - "gemstone" is the word. You have get your head round the fact that the terms and techniques you were taught in your experience of cloisonné (presumably as a hobby) may not be appropriate in covering the whole 5,000 year global history of the technique(s) grouped under the name. The average reader is as likely to come here via a link from Tutankamun's treasure, or Sutton Hoo or the Staffordshire Hoard as looking for information on elaborate 19th century Chinese bowls or vases. All aspects of the techique need covering. While modern Asian work is wholly in enamel, and could not be done with gemstones, the reverse is true of the older types that don't use wire, where the same type of cloisons work for both, and many objects mix enamel/glass-paste and gems in the same areas of cloisonné work. Actual glass is also used, which should be added. It is pointless to divide the articles covering this period. If we had much more material, a separate article on East Asian cloisonné enamel would make sense, but with the small amount of material we have now, it doesn't. From the technical pov, the big difference is between modern Asian-style vessel work with wire, and the older jewellery type with robust soldered compartments made of strips or ribbons, which can be used for gems, enamel, glass equally well. Please don't trouble me with any more guesswork about how all the experts have got these objects wrong - I'm just not interested. I will be perfectly ready to discuss amendments to this version, but they should be suggested and discussed here first. If there are any other editors watching here, their comments would be welcome. Johnbod (talk) 21:21, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
PS, On "glass-paste", a term very often used in the literature, a look at Egyptian faience would be useful. The Ancient Egyptians used a range of materials that fall somewhat between the modern categories of pottery, glass and enamel. The term is also used of some Early Medieval pieces, including the Visigothic brooch pic in the article. The technical terms here are somewhat confusing, and probably not used wholly consistently by scholars, but we have to follow those used by WP:RS. Johnbod (talk) 21:31, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I left the history section you wrote more or less intact. This article is a metalworking article and readers would come here from the Vitreous enamel link. You should broaden the pietra dura article to cover other kinds of stone inlay instead of throwing all the miscellaneous stuff you don't know how to classify here. You don't have enough knowledge of this metalworking technique to provide reliable citations. "old Western and Egyptian enamel cloisonné does not use "wire" at all" If there is no "wire" between the different enamels it isn't cloisonné. What part of that don't you understand? "While modern Asian work is wholly in enamel, and could not be done with gemstones, the reverse is true of the older types that don't use wire" The asian work is cloisonné, older types that don't use wire are other techniques. "From the technical pov, the big difference is between modern Asian-style vessel work with wire, and the older jewellery type with robust soldered compartments made of strips or ribbons, which can be used for gems, enamel, glass equally well." You are confusing bezel wire, used for setting stones, with cloisonné wire. Compartments made with bezel wire are too deep to fill with enamel, but are used to hold cabochon stones. "modern Asian-style vessel work with wire" This is how cloisonné has always been done. It is a very narrowly defined technique. There are other enameling techniques that don't use cloisonné wire, all with different names. You are wrong in trying to merge all these techniques together. Zen-in (talk) 22:42, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The above is a useful summary of all your misunderstandings of the subject. Where does all this come from? It is your opinion. Another link for you - a reprint of Enamelling - A Comparative Account of the Development and Practice of the Art, by Lewis F. Day from 1907. Illustration 1 is captioned "EGYPTIAN CLOISONNE - NOT ENAMEL"! Please understand your opinions cannot be used in WP. I have introduced a number of high-quality references, and there are plenty more where they came from. You just reiterate your understanding of the modern hobby environment. If you don't consider gemstone work, or non-wire work, to be cloisonne when all the authorities do, WP must go with the RS. In 2007 (above) you were still saying "I think Cloisonné originated in France"! Why should I or anyone take your opinions on historical cloisonné seriously? Johnbod (talk) 23:02, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
How many times do I have to tell you: This is a jewellry/metalworking article and the terms used in those fields should be used in this article. Your citations from museum catalogs and dusty old art books, that use different terms, are incorrect citations. I have tried to compromise with you but you just throw it back in my face and say I have been inconsistent. I can produce lots of citations from metalcraft books but you are just going to edit-war with me anyway. You changed the focus of this article in Sept. to push your museum catalog POV. I politely invited you to discuss your edits after I changed them. Instead of a polite discussion about this you have insulted me and reverted my edits. I have raised several valid points you have just ignored, throwing out more insults and irrelevant citations. There doesn't need to be 5000 years of history in this article. I don't think cloisonné goes back any further than 1,000 years. Most of the important work was done by Faberge and others 100 years ago. So your expertise as an art historian is not needed here. Zen-in (talk) 23:45, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I've been watching this discussion from the start, but I feel like throwing in my 2 cents here, and try resolve this content issue. First, I'm no expert on any of this, so I can't say who's right or wrong, but I can comment on structure and whatnot. Second, there's no reason (i.e. no policies on Wikipedia) to limit an article to just "metalworking" if there are more facets to it. If there is enough detail to support a "metalworking" and "other facet" of cloisonne then that's ok too, but based on WP:SIZE the article really out to be (much?) larger than 30 kB, of which it is not close, so I would not recommend a split. Third, history sections or a historical perspective is not a bad thing. Just because the terminology has changed doesn't mean its not the same thing; that occurs quite often. Fourth, Johnbod has done a good job of offering up references, but Zen, if you want to be taken for more than just original research you have to add refs. Otherwise you can say whatever you want till you are blue in the face and it won't mean anything. Seriously, Zen I wouldn't say much else unless you have some refs to back it up. Wizard191 (talk) 00:06, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Right. Plus gemstone cloisonné is always metalwork also, despite Zen's attempts to confuse the issue with links to stone inlay, which doesn't use metal at all. Johnbod (talk) 01:29, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think every fact in every sentence needs a citation. Looking around at what other people have edited recently on WP I don't see citations appear for every edit. I agree that some history is needed in this article and jb has added that. The difference we have is in defining what is cloisonné and how much space to devote to items called cloisonné in art books because they look like enamel cloisonné. There are an unlimited number of items that can be considered cloisonné if the only basis used is that someone called it that. One solution is to use dictionary definitions [4], [5], or Antiques Road Show- [6], or Metalsmith by The Society of North American Goldsmiths [7]. Oppi Untract is one of the most authoritative writers in the metalsmithing field. I'm sure Wizard191 has a few books by this author. So we can either use any and all sources, resulting in an unlimited number of things that are called cloisonné, or use the above definitions (which all agree) with brief mention of other uses of the word, for disambiguity purposes. Even the Antiques Road Show hasn't heard about gemstone cloisonné yet [8]. Zen-in (talk) 01:50, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
The trouble is, as I keep explaining, that the older non-East Asian technique uses exactly the same style and technique to construct the cloisons whether they are to be filled with enamel, gems, cut pieces of glass or glass-paste. The Visigothic brooch was a common type where examples can be found using all of these, and no doubt mixtures within the same piece. Although such items are very old, many of them are very famous: one site where gemstone cloisonné was found, Sutton Hoo, gets about 500 visits a day, nearly twice as many as vitreous enamel. The page Cloisonné enamel, which of course redirects here, only gets 3-4 hits per day. Untract makes it clear he is talking about enamelling before he mentions cloisonné, and I'm sure the Antiques Road Show, and the antiques trade in general, never sees any Anglo-Saxon jewellery, but plenty of 19-20th century Chinese vases. Are you really suggesting they trump all the museums & scholarly books? I have no objection, btw, to adding that the plain term cloisonné is more likely to mean enamel than gems etc in modern contexts. Usually books on the older periods are careful to make clear which type they mean. Johnbod (talk) 02:00, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
So are you saying any reference you find that supports your definition of cloisonné has priority over a dictionary definition? There are gemstone sections in Untract's book. You can tell me if cloisonné is used in those sections. There is an unambiguous term to describe what you want to call cloisonné (with stones). We both agree it isn't pietra dura, but that isn't the only stone art. I also don't think gemstone is the correct term. Gemstones (Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Emerald) are almost always faceted so are held in place with prongs. What you want to call cloisonné (with stones) uses semiprecious stones like Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Jade, Garnet, and other mostly opaque stones. Your first example here uses that term. If you don't accept a dictionary definition as a citation that cloisonné means enamel cloisonné what do you think is a more acceptable and unbiased source? BTW: the Visigoth Broach is not cloisonné, it is Champlevé. If a museum curator has called it cloisonné, he/she is in error. There are no cloisonné wires. Zen-in (talk) 02:41, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
The Visigothic brooch most certainly is cloisonné, and with its empty compartments shows the technique very well. How many times do I have to say, or reference, that no, this type of cloisonné does not use wire, but what sources call strips or ribbons, soldered to the base? I may not know much about metalworking technique, but anyone trying to create that brooch by a champlevé method is making life extremely hard for himself, even using gold! It is not that "If a museum curator has called it cloisonné, he/she is in error" - it's that all museum curators, and art historians, and archaeologists, call such works cloisonné, and have done for many decades at least. See gemstone for what that word means, or try semi-precious stone & see where that goes. Johnbod (talk) 02:58, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Museum curators call a lot of things cloisonné. Using your definition any stained glass window becomes cloisonné as well. I asked you "If you don't accept a dictionary definition as a citation that cloisonné means enamel cloisonné what do you think is a more acceptable and unbiased source?" This whole discussion seems to hinge on this. I have provided several citations to support my claim that cloisonné means cloisonné enamel. [9], [10], [11], [12] Can you provide an equally authoritative source for your definition? Zen-in (talk) 03:09, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

No they dont! Do you have any evidence for this claim? Of course not. I have provided several refs to books, not just museums, which define the term perfectly well. They are certainly "equally authoritative" to the bunch of online dictionaries you have produced. Johnbod (talk) 03:36, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
The difference is that your citations are secondary to the definition - they are just occurrances of that usage - and they all come from museum catalogs or art history books. I can provide many references from metalwork books that are primary definitions, like the ones I have used already. A dictionary definition is also a primary definition and is not slanted towards metalwork or art terminology. The Merriam Webster dictionary is a long established dictionary in the US. If you prefer consulting an English dictionary, that's ok with me. Up till now you have been using online citations. Why the sudden change in attitude to their veracity? I would wager that if you went to a library the dictionaries you find there would say the same thing. You can also look up the term cloisonné in the online Encyclopedia Britannica - no mention of gemstones, just enamel. So no more of this baloney. I have backed up my claim with more authoritative sources than you can provide. Zen-in (talk) 03:51, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Look you can go on as long as you like making up these arbitary distinctions in your head! It doesn't matter. That there isn't much amateur gemstone cloisonné being practiced is probably not surprising; all the examples seem to be gold; I imagine you need a very soft metal to anchor the gems. Many of the references I have quoted (and have up my sleeve) are from archaeology books covering precisely metalworking - Youngs for example. You have, as you point out above, included gem material in your latest version of the article, but seem back to total denial. It's very hard to follow. Johnbod (talk) 04:24, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't see what is arbitrary about listing all those citations. You and Wizard191 were saying I was just talking pov and or unless I could provide citations. This discussion is about the correct definition of cloisonné. The citations I have shown support my claim that cloisonné means cloisonné enamel. [13], [14], [15], [16]. So that should be what this article is about, as it was before your Sept. edits. Since the word is used for another purpose to describe semiprecious stone work and historical artifacts of exceptional quality, a brief description of that usage needs to stay. However your earlier edits that merged cloisonné enamel, semiprecious stone work, glass, paste, etc all as one process are in error for the reasons I have stated above. If you read through some of Untract's books you will see that cloisonné enamel is a very restricted process and there is no latitude to swap in gems after the metalwork is done. All these techniques are covered in separate sections. I can provide citations for the cloisonné enamel process I added to the article but you can't provide a coherent description of what you claim (doing the metalwork then one of: pouring enamel, hammering in gemstones, or paste, glass, etc) And you can't provide citations from a metalcraft text to support it because it isn't done that way and is POV. Zen-in (talk) 06:36, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Zen, you have linked to the same 4 references three times now. These references are relatively poor, a dictionary entry, while not worthless, is at the bottom of the totem pole for definitions, as the person writing it is not an expert in metalworking, art, or smithing, so one would not expect him to understand the full breadth of the art. A website is only one step up from that, again not extremely reliable. You have put your position in quite a hard corner to fight from. You are trying to prove that cloisonne is exclusively the enameling process and not anything else. In order to prove this you are going to need a reference of equal or greater caliber than what johnbod has provided which are books written by experts in their field. We are essentially going to need a quote from an expert claiming that cloisonne the term only refers to the enameling process and NOT to anything else. Like I said this is going to be quite hard to find, if not impossible.
Also, remember that the rule of the land here is verifiability NOT TRUTH, so it doesn't matter what you think, you HAVE to verify it. What you think means nothing, its what other experts have published that matters. Wizard191 (talk) 14:47, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
"You are trying to prove that cloisonne (sic) is exclusively the enameling process and not anything else." No, I'm not saying that. I have said that cloisonné has been used to describe other things but it's primary meaning is the cloisonné enamel process. I thought a dictionary reference would be the most unbiased. And since the discussion here is about the definition of cloisonné, a dictionary would be the most direct source for a definition. What makes you think the writer was not an expert? Are all dictionaries equally unreliable? I also cited the Encyclopedia Britannica, but wasn't able to establish a direct link to the entry. Are you saying that an encyclopedia citation is also invalid? Can you direct me to a Wikipedia guideline that assesses the relative authority of dictionary, encyclopedia and other references for use on WP? Several of the citations jb has are from art history websites. Here is one that states that cloisonné is cloisonné enamel[17], also the Antiques Roadshow description [18]. Metalcraft books, like those written by Oppi Untract, are very large expensive books. Amazon doesn't drill into them like it does smaller books so I can't supply links. I will have to visit the library to see what they say about cloisonné. Searching Amazon, here are a large number of books with cloisonné enameling on their title [19], but none on gem cloisonné. [20]. The purpose of this discussion is to determine what is the most accurate definition of the term cloisonné. I have provided proof from a variety of sources to support my view, including dictionary and encyclopedia definitions. jb has only shown where people have used the term to describe stonework. None of his citations appears as a definition so it is unreliable to use it as a definition. I have proven this point adequately, even if some of my citations may not be the best to use in an article. Zen-in (talk) 18:26, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
OK, so if you ARE saying that it describes other things then why can't they be included, seeing as they have the same name? Also, I didn't say that a dictionary isn't reliable, I just said that it is low on the totem pole as far as WP:RS. A dictionary and encyclopedia count as tertiary sources, which Wikipedia deems as not as reliable; see WP:RS#Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Wikipedia states that the best sources are academically reviewed ones, per WP:RS#Scholarship, therefore you ought to strive for those types of sources. Finally, you realize if an expert publishes something that calls some stonework cloisonne that means it can be used as a definition. I don't even understand why this is an arguing point. Mere usage = definition of term. Wizard191 (talk) 18:59, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Stone cloisonné is mentioned. My objection has always been to the way jb has merged everything that has been called cloisonné into one, even to point of saying the methods of making them are all the same. So do you give equal credance to every instant of the use of the word cloisonné? One of jb's references points to stained glass being a form of cloisonné. Some "experts" have called Niello cloisonné. Where do you draw the line? Is this article to be a dumping ground for all things that look like cloisonné and might have been called cloisonné at one time? From there do we try to show how they are all made the same way, reductio ad absurdum? Zen-in (talk) 19:16, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Reading through WP:RS#Scholarship and the main page on primary, secondary and tertiary pages WP:RS#Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, "Tertiary sources such as compendia, encyclopedias, textbooks, and other summarizing sources..." This classifies johnbod's art books as tertiary sources, since they are textbooks and/or compendia. They would be on equal standing with a dictionary or encyclopedia. A book on metalcraft would, I believe, be a secondary source. I tried to find a copy of Untract's book in the local library but was unsuccessful. There are 3 stacks of art history books but not one metalcraft book. I have a copy of Rupert Finegold's book [21]somewhere as well as a few other good metalcraft books. And I will try another local library. Zen-in (talk) 00:16, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

The sources I have produced are a mixture of secondary and tertiary; you will surely accept by now that there is no shortage of secondary sources (the type we are mostly supposed to use in WP) confirming the usages I am suggesting. Many of them are by experts in historical metalworking rather than art history. As Wizard points out, you are trying to demonstrate a negative, which is always going to be more difficult, especially as there are fewer books on contemporary metalworking. Even if you found a good source on metalworking who shared your strong views that would only be one source to stack up against the ones I have produced, and I can find others as authoritative pretty easily. I am leaving a note about dictionaries in a separate section below. Johnbod (talk) 11:16, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Lead[edit]

The lead is the wrong place to launch into a description of how cloissoné is done. If you want to write a section describing how gemstone inlay is done go ahead. I wrote the section on how cloissoné enamel is done. BTW: enamel is not poured into the cloissonés. When enamel is that fluid, the color is destroyed. Another hint: stone inlays cannot be done with fine wire ( like cloissoné wire ) because the metal has to be hammered down so it clasps the stones on both sides. Most decorative polychrome done today uses prongs instead of bezels. Zen-in (talk) 03:24, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Modern techniques are not the whole story. I do not say gemstone cloissoné is done with wire, which it is not. While the article covers the whole term, the lead is exactly where the important distinction needs to be made. Take out the pouring if you like, but keep the distinction and the correct French etymology. Johnbod (talk) 03:29, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
Why do want to edit war? My edits included your "stone cloissoné". You don't have the first idea how metal inlay is done. If you hammer a stone it will break. Fine wire like cloissoné wire is only used to set individual stones. It will not hold stones that are on either side of it. You should try doing some of this before you attempt to write about how it is done. I have tried to compromise with you and instead you just reverted all of my work. Why don't you go ahead and destroy the other parts I have added. Zen-in (talk) 03:34, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
"In either variety a shape making part of the design is surrounded by a thin metal edge, forming a compartment or partition (cloison in French)." You can't set two stones with a thin metal edge between them. Why don't you let me finish my edits instead of reverting them immediately? Zen-in (talk) 03:37, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
You may not be able to pal, doesn't mean they could not! "stone cloissoné" is your invented term. But I'm off for tonight, so I'll survey the wreckage tomorrow. Johnbod (talk) 04:10, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
It's clear you just want to be abusive and bring some wiki-drama into your life. You'll have to find someone else to be your "pal". Zen-in (talk) 04:27, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Useful article[edit]

    1. There's a very useful article from a metalworking source: "Cloisonné Primer" from "Glass on Metal, the Enamelist's Magazine" here, which I hope will clarify some of Zen's concerns: "The cloisonné technique does not presuppose the use of enamel. We have seen above the technique originated with gems rather than enamel."
    2. On the earliest enamel cloisonne, according to The art of enameling: techniques, projects, inspiration By Linda Darty, it's from the 13th century BC (first pic). [22]
    3. On how "recent" use of the word for gemstone work is, here's Lewis F Day (a technical writer rather than an art historian) from 1904 - see illustration #184; pp. 197-199 are also relevant for the essential unity of the technique for gems, glass & stone in early periods [23].
    4. For scientific tests on early medieval cloisonné gems and glass see here
    5. pp. 67-8 & capton p. 74 here Ancient Egypt etc.

Johnbod (talk) 08:00, 10 November 2009 (UTC)


  1. "Cloisonné Primer" from "Glass on Metal, the Enamelist's Magazine" here provides the definition of cloisonné as an enameling technique that evolved from other metalcraft techniques, going back to gem inlay in Egypt. That doesn't mean everything done from Egyptian times can be called cloisonné.
  2. The art of enameling: techniques, projects, inspiration By Linda Darty This well written book appears to be almost exclusively devoted to enamel cloisonné.
  3. Lewis F Day This is a repeat, you have already presented it - So are stained glass windows to be called cloisonné?
  4. For scientific tests on early medieval.. - More Museum curator language.
  5. Ancient Egypt...- More Museum curator language.
Zen-in (talk) 18:46, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
  1. Just to be clear, do you think anything from Ancient Egypt can be called cloisonné?
  2. Yes, it is. This was just about the earliest date for cloisonné, a topic you raised above.
  3. Same guy, different book, and clearer. He does not say "stained glass windows [are] to be called cloisonné".
  4. No, materials scientist language of exactly the sort you were requesting above, and on exactly the same topic. Asked and answered.
  5. If you like, but this is no argument against it. Johnbod (talk) 12:43, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Plan[edit]

"Cloisonné Primer" from "Glass on Metal, the Enamelist's Magazine" here has a very good description of the origins of the term cloisonné. "January 1879 states during the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries what is now called simply cloisonné was called "esmaulx de plique" or "emaux de plite"." As I stated much earlier the term originated in 19th century France. Like any other technology it developed from earlier technologies. Some people, in recent years have decided to call a lot of other things cloisonné. To make this a sensible article some distinction has to be made between the initial meaning of the word cloisonné and newer meanings. They cannot be all lumped in together and made to look like the same thing. Zen-in (talk) 19:51, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Dictionaries[edit]

I will admit Zen has a point about dictionaries; all the ones I have looked at define cloisonné exclusively in terms of enamel, though some also refer to "flattened strips" or similar as well as wire. The UK "Longman Dictionary of the English Language" (which is perhaps a version of Websters - it is copyright "Merriam-Webster") even quotes as its example of usage "the Sutton Hoo shoulder clasps represent the high point of Anglo-Saxon cloisonné work". These shoulder clasps are exactly the items I have used as an example above and unlike some Sutton Hoo items contain no enamel at all, nor has anyone ever suggested they do (except maybe Zen!). As someone who has often cited dictionaries as authoritative, and especially the Oxford English Dictionary, I was amused to discover when I contacted them that one group of people who don't take this line at all are those who write them. Obviously it helped that I was able to produce so many references from this discussion. The preliminary response was very positive, & I expect that in due course the OED will contain a more satisfactory definition (their current one is unchanged since the 19th century, they confirmed). They update the online edition quarterly & publish a list of the changes, so any changes they make will no doubt be picked up by the rest of the dictionaries eventually. I looked at the Merriam-Webster site, but they don't seem to encourage suggestions from the public in the same way. You can bet they watch the OED changes though. Johnbod (talk) 11:39, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Good to hear this from you johnbod. I knew you would eventually come around to this view on the subject once you had looked at all the sources. I don't have any problem with mentioning other types of cloisonné besides enamel in this article if you will agree that the primary and first meaning of the term is enamel cloisonné. Zen-in (talk) 18:08, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I've said I'm happy to say it is the most common, especially in modern contexts. I don't know about "primary" or "first", & I'm not sure this will still be what the big dictionaries are saying before all that long. None of us know how the term was first used in either English or French, or what it was applied to, and the really famous pieces of cloisonné work (in the West anyway) tend not to use enamel. Soon, when I have time, I will do a new version of the text, which certainly needs changing - the first sentence is not grammatical, & the 2nd & 3rd sections are largely duplicates of each other. Plus this discussion has produced new references etc. I suggest you let me do this & then we can discuss specific issues with the text here. Johnbod (talk) 18:24, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Here's another picture of King Tut's solid gold mask in the Encyclopedia Brittanica [24] The talk is all about glass inlay; no use of the word cloisonné in the whole article. It looks like you have your work cut out for you, getting all those dictionaries and encyclopedias changed. :) Zen-in (talk) 00:55, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
No, I didn't say there was any cloissone there, just the glass-paste you said didn't exist until the 19th century - obviously my jokes (above) are wasted on you. I think his pectoral has it though, like most surviving ones - check that out if you like. The OED will take it from here, & I thought you had already had to accept that all the encyclopedias were full of "museum curator talk". What does EB say about Sutton Hoo? Johnbod (talk) 05:04, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Substitute gemstone inlay for glass inlay above. Different terms are used for the same thing, depending on the perspective. Glass flows at a temperature that is higher than the melting point of 24kt gold. Egyptian paste [25] is actually a low fire glaze with not much silica. So it isn't glass or enamel. It would have been applied as a clay-like paste and the whole thing fired like pottery. Looking at close-ups of the Sutton Hoo photos and comparing them to the photo on the page of the sword hilt fitting, I can see they are all garnet. It is cloisonné, but the fabrication method is very different from enamel cloisonné. I don't see anything wrong with including mention of gemstone cloisonné in this article as long as it is made clear that the fabrication method is different (thicker wire soldered to base, etc) Zen-in (talk) 07:37, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely - the turning point is in the Byzantine period when the type with thinner wire is first used to make real "picture" images rather than geometrical patterns with thick walls & more geometrical or schematic designs. The Chinese only used this new style, and also use wire decoratively in the middle of a field of the same colour - ie a line stopping in the middle of a field, like on the "petals" of the Ming head-dress. In the earlier style the filling of the cloisons could be enamel, glass-paste or shaped bits of cut glass, all using very-similar if not identical metal base & cloison set-ups; the latter style can only use enamel. One problem pin-pointing the moment of the shift is that most "early" Byzantine (pre- about 10th century) enamels turned out to be (probably) 19th century Russian forgeries a few decades ago, & scholars have rather been scared off since ([26]). But that is a minor issue for this article. I think this approach is the best way to describe the whole history, & this discussion has at least produced the references to support emphasizing this major shift. The Egyptian reference is useful. Johnbod (talk) 13:34, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

New draft discussion[edit]

A big improvement. Its well balanced and gives individual treatment to the different types of cloisonné. The reference to plique-à-jour in the lead should stay. There isn't a page for plique-à-jour yet; I will be writing one soon. There is a good example of Byzantine enamel cloisonné on the Vitreous enamel page. When you get finished with these edits I may want to suggest some revisions and references to add here.Zen-in (talk) 20:47, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Glad we're making progress. I have lots of refs (most already mentioned above here), but probably little text to add. The plique-à-jour sentence I moved down, adding ones on champleve etc - near bottom of enamel history section. Is that ok? More tomorrow or at the w/e. Johnbod (talk) 01:57, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it looks good. One book I have [27] describes champlèvé as having raised planes ( the translation of champlèvé) with enamel in the low areas. The author (on page 145) says this was done by chiseling into thick metal. Today pierced metal or wide bands of metal are soldered onto the base plate. This book [28], on page 106 has an illustration of a 13th Century BC gold ring with cloisonné enamel, discovered in a Mycenaean tomb in Kouklia, Cyprus. The wire used is very thin, like modern cloisonné wire. This and other early cloisonné can be seen here [29]. The author also states " The very early use of cloisonné may have been inspired by the goldsmith's familiarity with making enclosures for jewels ..." Zen-in (talk) 03:58, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

"Initially heavy bronze or brass bodies were used ..." I notice this has a citation but glass and vitreous enamel don't stick well to brass.`All enameling books state this (Matthews page 19) Some modern work has been done with brass, exploiting the unpredictable results for abstract effects. Zen-in (talk) 03:17, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

You can see this in the Dillon ref online. Maybe they had some solution for the problem, but I think we should stick with the ref. It must be easy to tell when the pieces are examined. Johnbod (talk) 05:19, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
It must have been a different brass alloy or composition of enamel. Present day enamels fly off of brass as soon as they cool. Zen-in (talk) 07:20, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
Brass is a rather elastic term "Brass is any alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.[1] In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin.[2] Despite this distinction, some types of brasses are called bronzes." we say. Johnbod (talk) 15:02, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
For the purpose of enameling, brass is not used. The only exceptions to this are modern abstract work where it doesn't matter if half the enamel flies off and possibly ancient work where the enamel composition was different. Some alloys of brass have been called bronze, gold, and other names, and bronze has sometimes been mistaken for brass. Zen-in (talk) 19:08, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Wire[edit]

"Cloisonné wire is made from pure silver or gold ..." - is this still true in the modern technique? Johnbod (talk) 03:13, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

The cloisonné wire can be made from copper, but I have never seen copper cloisonné wire sold anywhere. From a technical perspective copper wire has a lot of problems and would cost the same as silver wire, if it were available. Zen-in (talk) 03:26, 21 November 2009 (UTC)