Cloisonne is enameled metal, colored with metallic oxide and painted into the contained areas of the design, thus producing a picture or mosaic similar to a stained glass window. These beads come in many colors and shapes. Special "gold", "silver" and "imperial" beads are a little more intricately made.
Cloisonne-making is an ancient craft that evolved in the Middle East, then spread throughout the Byzantine Empire and was introduced to China through trade routes in the 14th century, with widespread use on decorative items such as vases, tableware, statuettes and, of course, beads. The art of cloisonne-making has not changed very much in the last 500 years, and it remains a craft that requires patience and some artistic flair.
Cloisonne is an enameling technique in which thin wire partitions (called, cloisons) are filled with enamel (glass paste). The technique involved delicate strips of copper wire bent to create a design, then placed and soldered onto the bead's surface. Next, the spaces are filled with different colored enamels. Finally, the bead is fired and polished several times to produce the desired effect.
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