On the Bending of Cloisonné Wires...


When I tell people that I do cloisonné enamels, the most common response is usually "Oh, I could never bend all those tiny little wires!"

Well, I'm here to say that, truly, most assuredly, you could. It's not about having great eyesight either. It's mostly about practice and touch. I love bending wires. It's probably the most time consuming step (well, besides grinding and polishing, but more on that later), and it's very zen. All the design work is done, so there's no thinking involved. I like to listen to audio books while I bend wire.

I don't use that store bought cloisonné strip- I buy fine silver wires of various gauges and roll it in my little rolling mill. That way, I have more control over the thickness and depth of the strip, and it makes a big difference in my designs. I'll usually do the outlines first (the hardest because they actually need to be pretty precise), then fill in with lots of swirls and whatnot. If I know I'm doing lots of swirls, I'll just spend an hour or two (or three) making tons of them. I can make a swirl with my eyes closed. Sometimes I dream about making swirls, which can get pretty irritating.