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WOMEN AND MEN

The golden filets of porcelain

Of all the arts involved in glazing ceramics, that of painting a band, or filet, onto a piece of porcelain is one of the most intricate. In the Hermès workshops in Nontron, the artisans must juggle between bowls, large vases, plates, dishes and tureens. Eight gold-filet workers maintain this know-how, decorating the pieces by hand using a liner brush saturated with gold, platinum or colour.
As fluid as water, as fine as a hair or in a wide band, the filet captures light and gives the porcelain vibrancy. Before sparkling on a table, the pieces of white ware made in Limoges are hand decorated, re-fired, then sanded at Nontron in southwestern France. Filets in gold, platinum or colour are the speciality of the Compagnie des arts de la table et de l’émail (Cate). Eight of the 150 artisans master this technique, applied with grey squirrel hair brushes.
The two hands of the artisan must act independently. Centring a round piece of porcelain on a wheel is difficult enough, but they must also be capable of turning it with metronomic precision with one hand, while the other positions the brush on the edge of the piece to achieve a line of equal depth along the entire circumference. Only after firing and polishing does the full brilliance of the precious metals or the colour become apparent. 
 
Filets of porcelain Filets of porcelain
 

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