Special techniques for enamelists and silversmiths
In the following pages we have documented some of our experience in designing and casting sterling objects for cloisonné and champlevé work, and in casting portraits or etching stylized portraits on sterling silver or copper.
Cloisonné and champlevé are terms that refer to techniques applied by enamellists, i.e. artists who apply glass on metal. Often one wishes to separate the enamel in cells, the boundaries being flat wire (silver, gold, or other metal) standing on its thin edge. Classically émail cloisonné cells are formed by gluing the flat wire in some way to the metal. With the champlevé technique cells are usually created by engraving or etching depressions in the metal. If the objects are not too large the same can be achieved by the casting techniques described on the following pages.
It is a small step from here to apply photographic techniques in the casting of other objects. The examples relate to stylized portraits, but are equally applicable to other black and white images. For enamelling purposes the depressions need to be between 0.3 and 0.5 mm deep. If, however, one wishes to make an object with only superficial depressions, then it is much more convenient to resort to intaglio techniques (still widely used for making electronic prints). We therefore also describe that technique. The etching procedures are also applicable to copper, for example for the champlevé technique, and suitable if you wish to make plique-à-jour enamel.