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Cloisonne Jewelry

Linda Crawford makes vibrant and abstract cloisonne jewelry using precious and semiprecious gems and other materials.

Linda Crawford's soulful cloisonne jewelry is a mix of abstract art and realism. Her pieces are playful, vibrant and unique in design. Crawford designs and fabricates all of her own settings using precious and semiprecious gems, minerals, found objects, silver and gold. The first known enameled (made of crushed glass) articles date back to the 13th century B.C. Artisans perfected it using glass in a painting technique in Limoges, France. In the 19th century, Faberge eggs were created, combining jewels with enamels. But the term "cloisonne" refers to the addition of fine wires separating the colors. This is the craft that Crawford has perfected in her contemporary jewelry with an historical influence.

Crawford cuts out shapes from a sheet of 20- to 24-gauge fine silver with a jeweler's saw and smoothes the edges with sandpaper. It's annealed in a kiln for a couple of minutes and then domed by tapping it with a wooden tool over a dapping block. Doming creates tension in the metal so it can be enameled. The metal is textured with a diamond bit so that the enamel will grab onto the surface. Next, Crawford degreases the metal with pumice powder, water and a glass brush (made of fine filaments of glass). The silver is placed in the kiln for a few more minutes at 1475 F degrees. Enamel (glass) is crushed to a powder somewhat finer than granulated sugar. Fine silver or fine ribbons of 24K gold wire are placed onto an enameled surface and fired in a kiln to hold their position. Crawford washes the enamel flux and applies the enamel in a thin layer onto the underside of the silver with a sable brush. This is allowed to dry and is then fired again for 2 to 3 minutes. The process is repeated on the underside and once again on the top.

CMC powder is mixed and used as glue to temporarily hold the silver wires onto the piece. Using tweezers and small scissors, Crawford shapes and cuts the cloisonne wire, dips it into the glue, and then gently places it onto the enameled surface. The piece is dried and then fired again. Next, she adds the colored enamel to the design in a thin layer with a sable brush until she covers the entire piece. Again it's dried, fired and the process is repeated until the enamel reaches the top of the cloisonne wire. Then Crawford adds gold and silver foil. Using diamond pads, she grinds the enamel smooth, dries the piece, and fires it again. As many as 20 firings can go into each piece! She sets the enamel in the metal framework, gives it one last polish with red rouge, and it is complete. Crawford's fine jewelry is the translation of an inner vision into an outer reality. They are an exploration of patterns, colors and textures magically transformed into wearable art.

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