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Metal handicrafts

Metal handicrafts

Minakari or Enameling is one of the most glorious Iranian handicrafts. It is the art of painting and designing the surface of metals such as gold, silver, and copper by glazing colors and fire in the furnace (Sometimes, it is done upon the glass or ceramics too.) According to the orientalist scholar Arthur Pope, Minakari dates back to 1500 B.C. Its practice on metal appeared during 600-400 B.C.

Minakari is usually done on different utensils, such as vases and plates, picture frames, the doors and windows in holy shrines, jewelries, small decorative objects, and combined with Khatamkari, Miniature, Jewelry making and other kinds of art. Different kinds of paints used in Minakari were taken from plants, minerals, and iron ore. Nowadays, chemical paints are often used. The craftsmen use gold, copper, and tin in combination with different chemical materials to make red, green, and yellow colors respectively.

Mina, meaning heaven in Persian, is a glasslike coating that can be fixed on different kinds of metals by heat. It is available in different colors, such as azure blue, reddish purple, green, yellow, cyan, yellow, gold, and black. But Isfahan Minakari is usually known by the colors of azure blue and turquoise or cyan.

The process of Minakari is as follows: First, the metal- nowadays usually copper- is shaped by the craftsman. Then, he covers it with a white glaze. Next, he puts the body into the furnace at a temperature about 800˚ C, and recoats it with a higher quality glaze and heats it again. This process is usually repeated three to four times. Now, the craftsman can design and paint the metal body. Finally, the craftsman sends the painted metal dish to the furnace to stabilize the color.

The different tools used during this process include furnace, pliers, press machine, very fine brush or pen, and so on.