[CR]re: Cloisonne: the meaning of it all.

Example: Humor

Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 08:28:45 -0400
From: Harvey Sachs <hmsachs@verizon.net>
To: gholl@optonline.net, Classic Rendezvous <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]re: Cloisonne: the meaning of it all.

Geo. Hollenberg wrote:

You're not pedantic at all but perfectly correct. My wife, a European licensed in art in her country, gave me a lecture on this topic several hours ago, including the difference between cloisonne and champleve enamels. Recently, and sadly, all such terminology has now been debased, and, currently even painted imitations of genuine cloisonne articles are referrred to as "cloisonne," much as all paper copies, regardless of the technique used to produce them, are called "Xerox." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A remarkable aspect of language is its evolution, as new contexts are adapted to old words. Whether it becmes "generic" or "debased," meanings change. In college, I hung around with vintage Packard (car) folks. For them, "cloisonne" always meant decorative porcelain (glass melted in the process of manufacture), usually with raised partitions. Thus, the "senior" (top-line) Packards had cloisonne emblems on the hub caps, while the hoi polloi drove packards with enamelled hub caps. Or Fords.

In the industrialized world, I think the distinction by material and process is useful. It emphasizes the color material (paint v. glass) and the process (dry v. melt), and the result is generally easily distinguished by eye. And I think that we'd agree that cinelli stem badges are manufactured products, industrial products.

So this would seem to be the appropriate context for our conversation. Having said that, I'm happy to recognize that every field has its own jargon that generally narrows the "lay" meaning of important terms. Often these distinctions cause confusion, as in the specialized meaning on "theory" to scientists, but that's just the way it is. We may just have to live with the narrow scope of the term for metal-working artists vs. the broader meaning in common use.

We return now to our regularly scheduled programming, wishing all a good day, and thanking them for helping me learn a bit more.

harvey sachs
mcLean va