Enamel is defined as "a glassy substance, usually opaque, applied by fusion to the surface of metal, pottery, etc., as an ornament or for protection."
Enameled metal street signs are still found everywhere in cities in France and enamel was also the material of choice for indestructible advertising posters and public clocks, in the beginning of the 20th century. In China, enamel utensils are very common to this day and have been and are still exported all over the world to boutiques whose clientele is too happy to include enamelware in the decors of its "bobo" (bohemian bourgeois) lifestyle. Even though the finest of jewelry is often adorned with enamel, it is mostly applied to everyday objects as it is inexpensive to manufacture, very resistant to the elements and to wear and tear, and is an ideal creative medium for it can produce sharp, color saturated designs.
Paris street sign, poster and clock
French country enamelware
vintage mid-century Danish
American 50's kitchen table
bold graphics on contemporary enamel dishes
elegantly simple wastebasket
jewelry fun or fine
Chinese enamel pots decorated with typically kitch designs
I have kept the best for last!
This brooch from Georges Fouquet from 1923 is made of enameled gold with jade beads and diamonds and resembles a Venetian Carnival mask. Its perfect balance and quirkiness has fascinated me ever since I saw this image years ago in "Connaissance des Arts", a thick glossy magazine, where the most fabulous antiques are beautifully shown off.
images marstinia ( www.etsy.com/shop/marstinia )and xavnco via flickr, caravane paris, ebay, arthus bertrand