This 19th century Japanese vase is 12” tall and had a dent about 1-1/2” across from which most of the enamel was missing. We can restore cloisonne to a high degree of invisibility. Cloisonne is constructed on copper vessels onto which thin copper or silver, or sometimes gilded, wires are soldered. These wires create the cells, or cloisons, that are filled with crushed colored glass that is then fused into the enamel that covers these pieces. The final step, not much mentioned, is that the whole fused surface of a vase was ground and then meticulously hand polished to its final glass-like polish.
Once the underlying copper of such a vase is dented, the glass on the surface of course is crushed and cracked. Our first step is almost always to seal this crushed glass to prevent any more enamel from falling off. The next step is to remove the dent with careful pressure and then to re-seal the surrounding enamel. We then fill the missing cloisons with optical epoxies of the appropriate colors and smooth the surface to match the original. Some readjustment of color was needed in this case to exactly match the surrounding enamel. The surface is then repeatedly coated with optical epoxy to bring back the smooth curve of the original, and polished to match the luster of the surrounding enamel.