This set of 12 rectangular tiles with rounded corners shows the process of cloisonné. The final design consists of two branches of wisteria (one white, one purple) and leaves with a single orange-colored blossom. The tiles are placed in a wooden case, each within a designated slot. Twelve steps from the copper plate to the finished piece with the inlay are shown on each of the twelve tiles.
Cloisonné is a type of enamel in which wires are used to delineate decorative areas ("cloisons" in French) on an object, typically made of copper. Enamel paste is then applied in the compartmentalized areas before the object is fired and polished. The objects themselves may also be called cloisonné. The technique was used in the West in ancient times, spreading to China by the 14th century and to Japan in the mid-19th century. The Japanese characters used for the word cloisonné, shippō, also mean "The Seven Treasures," referring to the seven treasures mentioned in Buddhist texts. Although these treasures may vary, they generally encompass a selection of the following: gold, silver, emerald, coral, agate, lapis lazuli, giant clamshell, glass, and pearl. The Japanese applied this expression to enamel wares because of their rich colors.