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Enamel is a material that is made by fusing powdered glass onto another material – usually metal – at very high temperatures. Enamel has been used for decorative effect since ancient times, reaching its peak popularity during the 18th and 19th Centuries in Europe.
There are a number of different enamelling techniques that are used to decorate objects. Most prominent in antique furniture, vases and clocks are the champlevé enamelling technique and the cloisonné enamelling technique, which were both used extensively in the 18th and 19th Centuries for European and Asian antique furniture and decorative arts. Guilloché enamelling and plique-a-jour enamelling are two further techniques, which both require a high level of skillful craftsmanship to achieve.
The smooth, hard and durable quality of enamel, combined with the decorative flexibility it allows, means that the use of the material has continued to flourish as a decorative arts technique into the present day.
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