CAMEO WORKMANSHIP

The Cameo takes form from the conch shells which is normally used for the manufacturing. During the first phase of cameo production, the shells are carefully handed by an artisan who cuts the upper part of them by creating what craftsmen call “the shell-cup”. This step is very delicate as the shells are carefully chosen and optimized in accordance with many standards, such as thickness and brightness.

In fact, the shell-cup is studied by another craftsman who decides which pieces to take out from the shell by signing the structure of the shell-cup with a thin black felt-tip pen. The shells, well defined, are now given to an expert cutter who roughly cuts the pieces by the aid of a sharp rotating wheel. At this point, each piece of the shell is carefully levigated and polished by a rotating brush till getting the final shape.

The following step is to put any single piece upon a wooden stick by smearing a special warm wax on both sides of the stick itself. In this way the artist can easily first draw and then engrave on the shell surface, with a tool, better known as “Bulino”, classic profile, biblical or mythological scenes, reproducing bas- relief sculpture in miniature.