about enamel painting

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To be able to appreciate the skills particular to Louis Reguin, a few words should be said about the techniques of enamel painting. The base of an enamelled piece generally consists of a white enamel layer which is smelted on to a small metal plate made of gold, silver, copper or iron. The colours are obtained by grinding enamel pieces in an agate mortar to a very fine powder, to which sandalwood, lily or lavender oil is then added to form a paste. With an extremely fine brush, made of marten hairs, the subject is outlined on the white enamel layer with a red-gold-purple paint. After that, the artist applies an extremely diluted first layer of paint. A thicker layer of paint could cause the formation of bubbles during the following firing process. One by one up to twelve layers are applied, each layer requiring separate firing in the oven. At the end comes the most delicate operation – the glazing – which should protect the enamel picture and give brightness to the colours. The glazing itself consists of several layers of transparent enamel, which are applied by means of numerous firing processes. This technique obtains the depth and radiance, which are admired by us all.
In enamelling there are other techniques e.g. the enamel relief, so-called „à la Limoges“. Here white enamel paint is smelted on a dark blue or black surface. Similar to the making of a cameo, the artist then scratches and scrapes away the light-coloured layer in different depths, by means of a fine tool, to obtain a variety of shadow effects. The artist often cuts out tiny pieces of gold-, silver- or platinum-leaf – so-called „paillons“ – which are then placed on the enamel.
As well as an excellent talent for drawing, the art of enamelling also requires a profond knowledge of colours and their composition, a steady and sure hand and a clear eye. At each of the countless stages leading to an enamel picture there is one absolutely merciless rule : The tiniest mistake can spoil the entire work carried out !