Minakari or Enamelling is the art of the earth and fire. An art in which the passion and restlessness of the enamel artist for the sake of creating beauty turns the untouched, crude, and tough metallic material into a piece of art flourished with patterns and images. This art, which can be also referred to as "the miniature on fire," is used for the ornamentation of the jewelry, dishes, and other objects and has a background of over 5000 years at its back. Enamelling or the art of drawing on iron and metal is one of the most idiosyncratic branches of handicraft art originated from Isfahan. It is usually performed on copper but can also be applied onto other metallic materials such as gold, silver, bronze, metal etc. Some of the experts believe that it was the Iranians who created this art for the first time and the exported it to other countries.


The Stages of Making Enamels

The very first stage in the art of forming enamel work is making the metallic base-work or infrastructure during which the metallic layers are transformed and worked out into the desired object. Then, the etching master prints and carves the desired images on the object and forms its edges into various forms such as crenate or dentate and smoothens out the body of the object. The next stage is then started which is for glazing the enamel work. This is stage is quite delicate and sensative in the whole enamel working process. In fact, enamel glaze is the most essential material applied in the enamel art. It has a peculiar density in the room's temperature and if exposed to heat will turn into a rough material and takes a transparent and glass-like form.

After such stages as cleansing and burnishing, through several stages, the objects are glazed out. At each stage, with the object being exposed to high-temperature heat, these glazes are glued onto the objects more firmly. After that, the stage of sketching out beautiful images and patterns on the work that is supposed to turn into enamel at the end starts. These images are then completed with attractive colors which are entirely gained through herbal sources but, these days, some use chemically produced colors on enamel works as well.


At the last stage, when the drawings created on the surface of the objects is over, the enamel artist puts the object on Aladdin gas lamp to evaporate the poisonous materials left as the effect of the coloring process for some time and then again puts the work into furnace and bakes it in a temperature varying between 800 to 900 centigrade. In so doing, the colors are fixed, so to speak, and become glimmering and lustrous. After that, the enamel work is ready to be sent out to the market for sale.

A Guide on How to Purchase Enamel Work

Since in enamel work, the drawings are done on a glazed out surface, first and foremost, what matters is the thickness of the metallic object. The thicker the metal used in an enamel work is, the work itself will be tougher and more resistant. The glaze used on the product is supposed to be smooth and unleveled. Those products that have been glazed for several times can cover the underlying metal better and thus have a higher quality in comparison with the one-time glazed works. The enamel works in whose manufacturing transparent coloring materials are used are considered more valuable in comparison with those that are colored with dim-colored material. If the brushes used for drawing images on the enamel work are smaller and have a richer variety, the product will have a higher quality compared with those products that are produced by thicker brushes.

The main center of the enamel work is Isfahan. For purchasing enamel in Tehran, you need to refer to Nejat'ollahi, also known as Villa, Street. Enamel products vary in price but on the average they should be about 100000 Toman per item.

Pages you might be interested in: Miniature Qalam'zani