Cloisonné wire

I’m purchasing materials for my university Art Metals & Jewelry class and my instructor directed us to Thompson Enamel to purchase our cloisonné wire. Thompson sells 20 gauge fine silver wire. I comparison shopped Rio and they also carry the wire but in 40 gauge fine silver. What is the most commonly used size of wire? Thanks for any help you all can provide.

I use 22 - 28 gauge fine silver filler wire depending on the size and design of the piece. You then twist it very tight and roll it. Finally anneal it and you should be good to go. There are several people on Ganoksin who specialize in filigree, hopefully they will join this discussion…Rob

1 Like

Hi Rob,
Thank you so much for your reply. I didn’t realize that filigree wire is the same as cloisonné wire! I pulled out my notes from a virtual filigree class that I took from Milt Fishbein 3 years ago. He taught us how to make filigree wire (it was a terrific class). I think I will buy my wire this time, but in the future I may make my own.

I misread your initial post and read filigree wire. I don’t know what wire is used for cloisonne. Sorry if I may have misled you and possibly others. Yes, Milt is a good resource for filigree…Rob

I shared your post with a friend of mine who teaches enameling at an art school. Here’s what she said:

“Basically, the wire is the line of the drawing. If you want a thick line, use a thicker wire. A thin line, a thinner wire. It can be most beautiful to have many types of line thickness, just like in a drawing. But many cloisonne artists want the line to disappear, so thinnest is their choice. Its main job is to keep the cells of enamel separate from each other so the colors don’t bleed together.”

I also looked up what Linda Darty wrote in “The Art of Enameling” regarding cloisonné wire thickness. She wrote that 28 gauge is a common commercial cloisonné wire thickness, but that 36 or 38 gauge are also common.

It could be that your teacher wants you to get 20 gauge from Thompson with the idea that you can thin it out as needed. Have you asked your teacher?

Best of luck!!


1 Like

Hi Sue, I think Rob has provided some additional clarity… but… Cloisonne wire is not the same as filigree wire. As you know, from the class you took from me, filigree wire is made of flattened twisted pairs of wire, usually fine silver. Cloisonne wire is also fine silver, but NOT twisted pairs. It is generally round fine silver wire which has been flattened. So as long as you have access to a rolling mill, you can make your own per your instructor’s specifications.

Wow! 38 gauge is getting thin! Aluminum foil is about 45 to 50 gauge. 38 would be a thicker foil.

Oops! I was a little off. I misread my notes. Sorry about that!

Linda Darty wrote that common cloisonné wire is 26-36 gauge thickness.




Hi Milt,
Thank you for writing- not sure how/why I thought that the wires were the same. There’s never a shortage of things to learn!


Hi Jeff,
I’m glad you wrote and thank you for asking your friend- yes, design-wise it would be effective to vary the the thickness of the wire. Lots to think about.

1 Like