imago corvi

adventures in enamelling, stories, music and travel

Limoges Champleve

pyxI was contacted by the Museum in Worcester, MA to make a series of panels showing the way 13th C Limoges champleve was originally made. This is one of the pieces in their collection and they asked me to make an enlarged version of the central roundel


These are the only tools he used

I had already read a good deal about this (since champleve was my main speciality for many years) and so was excited to take the project on. My first challenge was to find someone to do the hand engraving. I generally etch my pieces, but in the 13th c this process was unknown. Pieces that needed shape were either cast. hammered or engraved. So I put out a call on Facebook, and was answered by Armen Hagopian – who did a really fine job with both the detail work (see the last piece) and the excavation of large areas of copper to inlay the enamel


Outline of design


Marking the excavation, setting the depth.


Excavated (Armen cut two of these) so we could use one to illustrate the wet-packing process


Look how deep and clean! I wished I could have used a transparent colour


But transparent colours are not traditional! So I made a piece that showed how the grains are laid in (I just glued them in place.) I used an actual crow feather quill to inlay


Then I made another piece where the enamel was fired. (Two layers) I ground it with an alundum stone (they would have used limestone) and polished it using fine silica sand, spit and a chamois! (It’s what the book said!)


Then I sent it back to Armen and he engraved the details. It’s important to do this stage after firing, because the fire scale that develops when copper is heated would take the edge off the cuts

His cuts were based on the original – but quite a but more complex! Because it was an enlargement, there was more space to fill, and his engravers eye could not leave it all blank!

I hope to work with Armen again and make something of our own design and our own colours!





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This entry was posted on August 13, 2016 by in champleve, commission, enameling, metalwork, process and tagged , , , , .


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