Late 15th Century Enameled Tryptic replica of the Late Limoges painted style

A typical Limoges late 15th / early 16th C enamel

This page will show the progress of a 'scaled copy 1/2 size of an enamelled tryptic which is current owned by the Walters Art Museum. When people think of enamels of the medieval period, most people imediately think of Limoges enamels which of course represented the higher status artifacts found in many museums today. These well known enamels are generally of the champleve or the cloisonne style. By the Late 15th century, these styles where pretty much a thing of the past, with the exception of some buckle plates and decorative horse mounts, and a new style had come into fashion. It is fair to speculate that this new style was enabled by the change in the way a kiln was constructed, and with the addition of a door that could be opened and closed, a more controlled firing could be attained, and more importantly shorter duration firings could be performed. This shorter firing enables the glass to fuse, but without too much bleeding of the colours allowing details to be captured and maintained during the firing process. The process is both difficult and precarious when using a charcoal kiln, as the tempurature is relatively unknown, and therefore the firing time is very much done by experiance and eye. But is generally around the 2 to 3 minutes.

The Project

The Enamel chosen was a suitable 3 panel alter peice, that could allow for the panels to be made, and a completed item to be produced. This allows scope for the frame to be created together with the hinges, and the leaf details. Although we may change some of the features for this first iteration as forming the frame is going to be somewhat experimental.  

The centre panel was decided to be appoximately 4" square, this way it could easly be fired in either the electric kiln or the charcoal kiln, both of which muffles will take this sized panel. The enamel is layered on copper and then fired on both sides to minimise warpage and scale. Once the panel preperation has been completed then the design is painted with ground glass and oil onto the copper enamelled tile, prior to firing.  

Painted panel prior to firing and detailing of the halos

The centre panel now completed took a total of 4 firings to complete and little warpage has taken place...  

The next task is too cut and prepare the two outer panels and then to complete these ready to be mounted to the oak backing and then clamped into place by the frames.  

The final two panels were prepared and then taken to the ‘Building Bodiam’ project run by Ashley Barber together with the National Trust, along with the 15th C Charcoal fired kiln. Over the 8 Days visit the two side panels were completed with a total of 9 firings each. Each panel took around 3 Days to complete. Resulting in the completion of the project onsite.

The final Tryptic completed, in wooden gilded frame