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HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.- I
LEATHER work is of very ancient date. In the Egyptian Room of
the British Museum there are specimens of embossed leather supposed to have been
manufactured 900 B.C., and over the door of the same room there is a cross from
the vestment of a Coptic priest, attributed to the year of our Lord 640. In the
early part of the 17th century leather work was introduced into England in the
form of tapestry or hangings.
In Flanders especially this tapestry was carried to great perfection. Its superiority over carved and moulded work consists in its adaptability to ornamentation, where lightness and elegance, with economy of cost, are desirable. It improves by age, does not break, nor chip, and is not readily affected by heat or damp. It can be gilt, silvered, or stained to any colour to imitate old carvings in oak, ebony, &c., and admits of being easily cleaned.
The materials and instruments required consist of basil and skiver leathers, liquid glue, copper wire of various sizes, some very small headless tacks, a sharp penknife, a fine brad-awl, cutting pliers, and a veiner (Fig. 1); moulds for grapes, brushes, and one or two bottles of size and varnishes; all of which can be purchased at any fancy repositories. Basil leather is sheep-skin tanned brown, and is used for the leaves and petals of the flowers. Skiver leather consists of shavings from the currier's block, and is used for stalks, tendrils, &c. Those who wish to become proficients in the art of making leather ornaments should work from nature in all its varied forms, taking specimens from the fields, hedges, and gardens. When these are not procurable, the bought patterns may be used.
To make leaves, &c., soak the leather in water, dry well [-40-] with a towel, and then cut out the proper shapes thus: lay the pattern on the leather, holding it firmly down with the left hand, while with the right draw a line round the
pattern with a hard lead pencil; then, with a pair of sharp scissors cut out each leaf or petal thus traced, taking
care to have the edges sharp and clear; proceed thus - until a sufficient number of one size are cut out; and con-
tinue in the same manner until several sizes have been cut, and the requisite
number obtained. Now throw them into a basin of cold water for about five
minutes, then take them out and squeeze them gently in a cloth, lay them
separately on a board, wipe and smooth them out; next mark or vein them deeply
with the veiner on the smooth side of the leather, pressing heavily where a
thick vein is required, and more lightly where only finer ones should be
visible; next mould the leaf with the fingers, laying it upon the palm of the
left hand to the form which taste or the model designs for it, endeavouring, as
far as possible, to give the required effect at once, as working the leather is
apt to injure it: if any of the veins seem pressed out by the moulding, vein
them afresh. In veining a better effect is obtained by working the tool from
rather than towards the operator.
The next process is to twist the stalk between your finger and thumb until it acquires a rounded form. A leaf sometimes requires a pinch between the finger and thumb to give it a graceful turn.
If the leaves are for a formed design, to be constructed before it is attached to the frame, the appearance of the work may be considerably improved by passing a small wire into the leather at the under part in a direction corresponding to the central vein; it strengthens and gives firmness of form to it.
After moulding, the leaves should be dried as quickly as possible, without artificial heat, as fire is apt to shrivel, and make them brittle. When the leaves are dry, brush them all over (particularly the edges) with the prepared stiffening, applied with a camel's hair brush, thinly and evenly. When dry they will be ready for use. The stiffening or size can be procured ready made, but it is preferable to make it, after the following recipe, which is not affected by damp, and dries quickly: mix cold, two ounces of Australian red gum, six ounces of orange shellac, half-pint of spirits of wine, put into a bottle, Fig. 4. and shake up occasionally until the gums are dissolved; strain, and it is fit for use. Stems are made of strips of basil leather, one-third of an inch wide, and as long as the leather will allow; soak them till soft, wipe them, and then roll them round as tightly as possible (the smooth side outwards) on the table, and dry them; if required very stiff, add inside a piece of wire. Tendrils are made in a similar manner, using skiver leather, and cutting it into very narrow strips, and winding them, when damp, round a brad-awl or knitting-pin; dry by the fire, remove from the awl, and a delicate tendril will be the result; cut it to the length desired, and apply a coat of stiffening to keep it in shape.
Berries are made by smearing with liquid glue a long [-41-] thin shaving of leather, and rolling it between the finger and thumb until it becomes round; several of these berries are glued together to a thin strip of rolled leather which forms the stalk. Grapes are formed by cutting rounds of skiver leather to the size required, which should be wetted and placed in the grape mould; then fill the leather in the mould firmly with wadding, and tie the grapes securely with fine twine; when the grape is finished put a piece of wire through the part where it has been tied up to form a stalk. For acorns and filberts the acorn and nut itself should be covered in leather. For larger fruits the leather must be moulded, while moist, over a plaster cast.
It is advisable for the beginner to keep to foliage entirely at first, and learn to cover frames and brackets with them before attempting flowers; therefore we will conclude this article with directions for that purpose, and a recipe for preserving leaves, and keeping them in form for imitation.
Procure a frame, draw an outline of the design upon it, then cut strips of leather about three-quarters of an inch wide, and as long as the skin will allow; turn the rough. side outwards, and with the palm of the hand roll these strips on a table till they are somewhat rounded; then smear the inside with liquid glue; now roll them together till the two sides have adhered closely.
The branch is now to be affixed to the frame, by giving it occassional touches of the liquid glue,. and here and there inserting headless tacks; then glue or nail the foliage on thickly, so as to hide all the woodwork.
Great taste can be displayed in the arrangement. Among the most effective and easiest imitations for beginners to make and arrange, are the ivy, vine, oak, and fern patterns.
We give patterns for the ivy and a fern frond, copied from nature and of the natural size. Fig. 2 represents the ivy leaf, as cut out of the basil : it may be used as a pattern. Fig. 3 represents the same leaf veined: this also may be used as a pattern. Fig. 4 is an accurate tracing of a natural fern frond; and Fig. 5 of an oak leaf.
Stains and varnishes are to be procured of every shade when it is intended to imitate the appearance of old wood carvings. To imitate old oak or walnut-wood procure asphaltum varnish. For modern oak, brown or yellow varnish; for pine, white. To stain the leaves, brush each stem and leaf entirely over with the varnish, using a hog's hair brush for the purpose. Brush well over the veined parts, and should the leaves, when dry, not be so dark as desired, another coat may be given, but it should not be put on too thickly, and one coat must dry before another is applied. The frames and brackets must be coloured before the foliage is put on, but before the wood will take the stain the frame-work must be sized all over twice with melted size.
Recipe for Preserving Leaves.- Take one pound white powdered starch, dry it before the fire, when cool put a layer of half an inch at the bottom of a small box taking care that the box is dry; gather the leaves on a fine day, and lay as many leaves on the starch powder as can be done without touching each other; then sprinkle starch powder over them, covering all the leaves well; then put another layer of leaves, and proceed with the powder as before, until the box is filled. Fill up with the powder, and fasten the box lid firmly down until the leaves are required.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-II.
LEATHER-WORK (continued from p. 41)?
To make flowers and fruit in leather, it is advisable that Nature should guide the learners entirely ; never trusting to their own taste, nor to paper patterns, when natural leaves and productions are procurable. It is almost impossible to give a really practical written description; however, I will endeavour to explain the process of making two or three of the easiest, as simply as I can, but really recommend those desiring to be proficients in the art, to take a couple of lessons to learn the more complicated species, as roses, passion-flowers, &c.
Camellias.- Cut out the petals (Figs. 6,7)
according to the number and sizes required, damp and mould them into shape with
the fingers, and give them as natural a form as possible; fasten all the petals
together with thread and liquid glue, and put a piece of wire through the whole
for a stalk, covered with skiver leather. The buds are made by rolling some
leather chips, smeared with liquid glue, into the proper shape, then covering
with two or three petals, and gluing down the base to the calyx, taking care to
leave the upper part of each petal free. The calyx should be formed by cutting a
piece of leather to pattern, and moulded into shape with the fingers and the
handle of the veiner.
Dahlias, Fig. 9, are formed by cutting out circles of leaves, each circle being smaller than the other, and each having a hole in the centre ; a fine roll or pledget of leather is passed through these holes, and holds all the circles together.
While Lilies.- Take a piece of leather and cut it into six petals, formed of one piece, thus: the three largest petals which alternate with the others are brought uppermost, while the three smaller ones are placed behind; the leaves are then to be veined, and curled or moulded into shape, as in the natural flower, and the petals will require to be glued to keep them in their proper places. Moulds can be procured to work the lily on; but if there is not one at hand, something should be adapted to place the lily upon while modelling it as near the shape of the interior as possible. It has six stamens with oblong anthers, which are made by cutting strips of leather, and leaving a piece of leather uncut at one end, rolling the strips round between the thumb and finger. The anthers are formed by a thin strip of leather being cut into small pieces, and each portion rolled between the finger and thumb, the end of each stamen being tipped with liquid-glue; the anther can be easily affixed. The piece of leather left at the end of the stamens should be rolled up as a stalk, put into the interior of the lily, pulled through the hole at the base, and then glued to its proper place. The bud of the lily is formed by merely folding the whole corolla together, veined (see Fig. 8).
To make Hops.- Cut twenty petals out of skiver leather all the same size, the shape of the single petal, B, Fig. 10; then take a piece of wire, and wind leather round the end of it, as in A, Fig. 10, fastening it well with liquid glue; this inner body should be somewhat shorter than the hop is to be when completed, and pointed at both ends. Mould the petals into a convex form at the end of each petal, then glue them alternately, commencing at the bottom and finishing at the top of the flower (C, Fig. 10).
In constructing Fruit, much care is necessary in the formation of the moulds, the choice of specimens, and the manipulation throughout. The materials required consist of some gutta-percha sheets of various degrees of thickness, and some natural moulds; the rest of the materials are the same as those used for other work, with the addition of two fruit-moulding tools of different sizes.
To construct a Peach.- Choose a hard, unripe specimen, and obtain a cast of the exact half by dipping a piece of gutta-percha sheet into hot water, and pressing it firmly over the peach, previously smeared with olive oil. If neatly done - and the art will be acquired by practice - the natural division of the fruit may be imitated. Remove the cast from the fruit, smear the inside with oil, and cut a piece of leather larger than the mould, dip it into cold water, and with the moulding-tool press it gradually and firmly, with a circular motion, into the mould, then set it aside to dry. Next pour some liquid glue into the inside, and press any odd pieces of leather or shavings until the half is filled. Construct another half, and join the two parts with liquid glue; rub off the irregular edges that remain with the end of the [-58-] moulding-tool, and smear with liquid glue, to keep the parts firm, then size and varnish. Lemons, apples, melons, plums, or any similar fruits, are formed in the same manner. Pears, figs, or such shaped fruit, require casting with the apex at one end and the base at another.
Cherries are made in a similar way to grapes, which we described in our former article.
Walnuts should be made by forming a mould of gutta-percha from the half; and pressing in the moist leather as usual, then filling up and varnishing.
Filberts are very effective when made, and are thus produced :-Crack several nuts, and choose as many half pieces as you can ; cut the edges smooth with a knife, and there is the mould ready. Lay one of the halves upon a piece of basil, run a pencil round the edge, and cut out the piece, which should then be dipped into water and pressed into the half-shell mould and set aside to dry; when dry, fill up with leather in the manner described for a peach; remove from the mould, then glue the two halves together, rub the edges down, and the nut is finished. The bract is made by taking the natural bract of the nut, as in Fig. 11, laying it on the leather, and cutting it out from it. The base of the nut is glued to the centre, and the rest of the leather is brought round the nut so as to give as natural an appearance as possible. When several have been formed, they should be glued together by their bases, to resemble a cluster, and the stem and leaves, which are formed in the usual manner, affixed and arranged according to Nature's own design.
Currants, & c., are formed in the same manner as ivy-berries.
Strawberries are constructed like grapes, but of course the shape is different; and, when the fruit is finished, the seeds are imitated by digging up the leather with the sharp point of a pen-knife ; it is then fastened to its calyx with glue, &c.
Raspberries and Mulberries are formed by rolling up slips of smeared leather until they are the size of the seeds, and having previously formed a pyramidal piece, the seeds are to be fixed to it until they are clustered into the proper size and form. The mass is then to be fastened to the calyx, previously cut out by pattern, and attached to the stem as usual.
Wheat is made by rolling up leather strips, and covering the seed with small oval chips, rendered concave by means of pressure, and fastening them to a zig-zag strip of leather.
To make Leather Figures.-Choose a good plaster of Paris cast, or a statue, and proceed as follows:- Oil the figure well with sweet oil, and having warmed a sheet of gutta-percha by immersion in hot water, press it firmly with a cloth into every part of the cast required ; allow it to cool, and remove it carefully. The mould is then to be oiled inside, and the leather (having been previously stretched) should be dipped into cold water and afterwards pressed into the mould, the inside to be filled with leather chips, as in the fruit process, and, when dry, removed ; but I recommend that a couple of lessons be taken in this as well as in the modelling of flowers as to excel in this, the highest order of leather modelling, practical demonstration is better than verbose descriptions.
Bee-hives can be made with leather stems as follows:- Cut a piece of wood to the shape and size required ; wind and glue upon it the stems, beginning at the top and finishing off at the bottom. To join the stems, cut each end to an angle, so that they fit; join them with liquid glue, and tie a piece of thread round to hold them tightly together till the glue is dry, when the thread can be cut off. To imitate the "tying," mark with a pen, with the darkest stain, lines and dots from top to bottom, cut a little bit out of the lower tier to make the entrance, and make a handle at the top with a piece of stem. And with this example of industry we will conclude our lesson on leather work. It will be observed that the instructions we have given have been merely rudimentary, teaching the reader how to form imitations in leather of single natural objects. We may, at some future time, give some designs for the grouping of these together, for the purposes of household decoration. Such groupings may, of course, be infinite in their variety, according to the shape or requirements of the object the leather-work is intended to ornament. Frames for pictures, and mirrors, brackets, bookstands and similar articles, are good subjects for the artist in leather-work to try his hand upon, and may be rendered highly ornamental by a tasteful employment of this simple but effective branch of the household decorative art.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-III
DIAPHANIE is the art of imitating the most beautiful and costly
stained glass by the inexpensive and exceedingly simple process of transferring
a species of chromo-lithograph in transparent colours to the surface of an
ordinary pane of glass, and may be used not only as an embellishment, but as a
method of shutting out, and hiding an unsightly view, such as black
walls, chimneys, &c., so frequently eye-sores in a town residence.
The art was first practised in France ; the original method consisting in printing the subject in colours upon tissue-paper, which paper was permanently fixed upon the glass, by which means the light was intercepted, and the brilliancy and transparency of the colouring destroyed. This system has been improved upon, and by the method now practised, the colours themselves are transferred to the surface of the glass, while the paper is removed, leaving a most perfect imitation of stained glass, upon which neither the violence of the summer sun nor winter frost has any effect. Nor is the art applicable only to windows; it may be used to ornament fire-screens, lamp-shades, Chinese lanterns, and fancy panes in conservatories, and is in fact available for every purpose in which the combination of transparency and ornament enter. The designs used for diaphanie are produced by a new process of lithography, and are mostly copies from well-known and valuable subjects; these you purchase in sheets, and arrange at pleasure, taking care, however, not to mix up designs belonging to different periods. Numbers of beautiful designs are sold at all the paint and oil warehouses, where there is always to be found an extensive choice of subjects, sacred, medieval, and picturesque, according to the device and subject required. The simplest plan of proceeding is to have a pane of glass to work upon the exact size of that in your window; this, with the design, a few sheets of lead-foil, a bottle of each transferring varnish,. clearing liquid, washable varnish, a roller, and a flat brush, is all that is required.* (* Rollers of the best description, 2s. 6d., transferring varnish (per bottle), 1s. and 1s. 6d.; clearing liquid (per bottle). 1s. 6d.; washable varnish (per bottle), 1s.; brush, 2d.)
In the first place, the artist must be very sure that the pane of glass is free from imperfections, such as specks and bubbles, and scrupulously cleansed; of course, if it be already fixed in window frames, you must take it as you find it.
Being assured the glass is all right, lay it flat upon a folded cloth; then trace the outline with a pencil line; those portions where the border ground-work and subject join to serve as a guide for the laying on the lead-foil and the designs which should have previously been cut out. The lead-foil should be cut into strips the width of one-eighth of an inch, though they may be a little wider or narrower, according to the size of the window you desire to decorate, or to the taste of the operator. The lead-foil is to give the effect of the white glass which forms the borders of most coloured glass windows, and when put on the glass it looks quite transparent.
In making the pattern, the designs maybe cut out and arranged to show the effect of the composition. Next lay the glass upon the pattern according to the method shown in Fig. 1, and cement upon it the tin-foil previously cut in strips to the proper width; gum is found to be the best cement for laying on the tinfoil. For circles and other shapes the straight strips of foil are cemented, and when nearly dry, stretched with the fingers of one hand, and pressed down with the thumb of the other. No attention need be shown to the creases which may come in the foil, as the smooth handle of a knife or paper cutter, slightly wetted and rubbed over them, flattens and [-93-] makes the foil flat and even. Having arranged and allowed the foil to be firmly fixed, you can proceed with the laying on of the designs, which should be a little larger than the foiled spaces made ready for their reccption, so that the foil may overlap the edges. We cannot enjoin on the beginner too much neatness and care in this operation.
In laying on the designs; the uncoloured part of the paper must be made quite damp with a sponge then put on the glass and the painted surface a thin coating of the cement. Care must be taken that no air bubbles remain between the glass and the prints, and the papers must he kept damp while the operation is being carried on, for if the cement be allowed to dry, the transparency will be destroyed when the clearing liquid is used. It is a good plan to commence rolling in the centre and working outwards, by which method any superfluity of varnish will ooze out at the edges, and not damage or destroy the surface of the picture. The work having advanced thus far, it should be carefully laid aside for two days at least, or even for three, after which you may begin to remove the paper.
The next operation is to remove the paper; this is done by once more wetting it, then rubbing it gently and evenly with the hand, a sponge, or piece of cloth, the work being kept damp all the while, and great circumspection used, lest by undue pressure any blemish be caused; this must be specially guarded against when, the greater part of the paper having been removed, the painted surface alone is exposed to the hand or cloth, and is liable to scratch or rub off. After the glass has been allowed to dry thoroughly, a thin coating of the clearing liquid is to be applied, and when this has become dry and hard, the work should be re-foiled, over the edges of the transferred picture, following the lines of the first foiling, and proceeding in the manner described before ; after which, one or two coatings of the washable varnish completes the work, which must dry and harden thoroughly before it is inserted in the frame-work of the window.
This same art may be applied for the adornment of window blinds, &c., upon muslin or silk. The operation consists in stretching either material tightly on a frame, taking the sheets of design, laying the plain side upwards to receive the diaphanous liquid which is put on with a brush; when dry, another coating should be given. A coating of cement should now be applied to the coloured side of the paper, taking great care to press it equally with the roller. There is now nothing left to the completion of the transparency but to varnish it. If the picture be misty, the diaphanous, or clearing liquid, should be used again. Ordinary engravings can be printed on glass in the same manner as the painted designs. The engravings which are to be used should contain no size. The plain side of the picture should be damped with a sponge. Apply to the other a coating of washable varnish; then warm the glass, lay on the print, press with the roller, and place it at some distance from the fire to dry. The next process requires great care, or the beauty of the engraving will be injured. Damp the print again with water, and rub off the superfluous paper after this, and when the miniature has been absorbed, apply the clearing liquid with a camel's-hair brush; and lastly, when it is thoroughly hardened, the washable varnish can be applied, and the work is then finished.
If the learner of the art of diaphanie pays close attention to the exact rules laid down in this article, there will be no difficulty in becoming proficient in this very elegant art, by which every house may be improved in its decorations. Of the diagrams with which this paper is illustrated, Figs. 2 and 3 are designs suitable for a hall window. Fig. 4 shows two patterns for groundwork or bordering.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-IV.
MANY useful and amusing occupations can be recommended for long evenings, and
among such occupations we reckon especially those which result in the production
of something at once permanent and ornamental. It is our intention to describe
several for the benefit of our readers.
Preparing scraps with which to cover a screen is an employment that fills up a good deal of spare time, entails no mental exertion, and may be done at small expense, beyond that for the mere frame of the screen, which, with a simple covering of black paper will cost about a pound, and if the scraps are arranged upon it with any amount of taste and judgment, a very attractive addition will have been made to the furniture of the room, and one that at the same time may be found exceedingly useful, as a protection against draughts, or the excessive heat of a fire. The work admits of endless variety, and will serve at the same time to display the skill and taste of the worker. It would be useless to lay down any very accurate rules where so much must be left to taste, but the general instructions in this paper will, with ordinary good taste and a little practice, enable the reader to become quite proficient. There are different ways of covering a screen. The first and simplest, as regards preparation, is the sticking on of prints from which the margins have been? removed. Pictures for such purposes may be collected from various friends and laid on according to taste. Sometimes all kinds of pictures, of all shapes and sizes, are arranged as it were pell-mell upon a screen, every cranny and nook being filled up. At other times they are arranged in studied confusion, as in Fig. I. This requires materials all of one size, and is most fitted for landscapes. All the corners and angles left uncovered by this arrangement, must be filled in with portions of pictures, for which purpose torn and damaged ones will come in useful. Another way of covering a screen is by cutting out the outlines of prints and sticking them on. Comic arrangements may be got in this way, as, for in. stance, by putting into a landscape small figures grouped in a valley as a pic-nic party, or climbing a mountain, or walking about the features of other figures much larger. One may cut out an umbrella and place it as if held by a duck, or transfer a pair of spectacles to the countenance of a lion. Of course, these arrangements may be varied infinitely. Perhaps no screen is handsomer than one made of elegant coloured scraps of all shapes, hues, and sizes For one of these screens, take the pictures from sheets of music, garlands of flowers from Christmas cards, coloured prints, landscapes, figures., heads, flowers-in fact, any- thing and of any size that can be pressed into the service. Coloured lithographic prints are now-a-days so common that there will be little difficulty in obtaining materials suitable for the purpose. It will be found desirable not to choose too many pictures representing the same class of subjects ; there should be a judicious assortment of figure subjects, landscapes, animals, fruit, and flowers. Cut these all in outline with a sharp pair of scissors, but avoid touching the finer portions at first, such as the features of the face, or the rigging of a vessel; and only at the last moment cut out the minute details with a penknife. After the last fine cutting is done, you must not handle them more than is absolutely necessary, as they are very liable to tear. First arrange the coloured scraps, according to your taste, on a table, and afterwards gum every one of them slightly by one point, and then hang them temporarily on the screen to see the [-130-] general effect. The arrangement ought to appear perfectly careless and hap-hazard, all sizes and all shapes turning in every possible way; but the eye must be satisfied and the colours contrasted, so as to give a good general effect. The black ground is left distinct between these, the pictures never touching. They are afterwards firmly pasted on, and finally the screen is varnished. The best varnish for the purpose is the ordinary spirit varnish. In pasting the pictures, one side is done at a time. After varnishing, the screen must be left where it can remain undisturbed. It will require two or three coats of varnish, each of which must dry thoroughly before another is applied. When the surface is quite smooth and even, the work is finished. A great deal of previous consideration is required to produce a felicitous result. For instance, the light and shade of the prints must be studied. If they are laid on in straight rows, alternately light and dark, as some lay them, a chess-board effect is produced which is most undesirable; or again, if they are placed in stars, a light one in the centre of a group of dark ones stands out too prominently. Effects like these may be observed in patchwork, where they are purposely produced, such as the box pattern. Pictures that are all square, or can be cut in squares, may be arranged in stars, as in Fig. 2, but the lights and shadows must be carefully varied. If they are cut in diamond shape they may be arranged as in Fig. 3. A strong solution of gum, mixed with a little flour, is perhaps the best cement.
ALBUMS AND SCRAP-BOOKS.
Albums and scrap-books may be made in almost endless variety. For a gift-book especially, nothing could be prettier or better, than an album devised on the Chinese plan. Get a set of strong cards, of whatever size you like; they may be as much as twelve inches square. Lance holes with a penknife at each of the corners, and run a piece of coloured ribbon through after the fashion of a fan, having first bound the edges all round with ribbon, put on with a strong solution of gum. Fig. 4 shows the manner of doing this. The ribbon is gummed to each card where it crosses it. Make your solution of gum very strong, but do not use it profusely; gum the cards together securely, but merely so as to attach the ribbon. After gumming down the ribbon, the cards not being more than the least possible space apart, leave them spread upon a table, covered with clean paper, and press them under a heavy weight. The next day the gum will be dry. One or more pictures can be arranged on each side of every card, and the covers may be ornamented with silk or moire antique, sewn together at the edges, and put on after the ribbon joints. The merit of this book is, that it will open like a common book either way, back and front, or unfold like a panorama. It forms a pretty case for photographic portraits, which may be thus inserted:- Soak a portrait in cold water till it comes off the card. Let it dry, and then attach it with gum to your album. Passe-partouts containing photographs may be made to form an album of this kind. Beautiful photographic albums have been made by taking a number of cards of one size and mounting various sized photographs of fancy subjects upon them, and then designing appropriate borders with a pen and Indian ink; for example, round "Moses found by Pharaoh's daughter, a border of bulrushes; around heads, the outline of a mirror or a frame of beads will have a pretty effect. Round the well-known subject of the Christian Martyr, a border of lilies would be appropriate. In filling scrap-books, if the book is not already so prepared, every other leaf must be cut out, because the pictures pasted in will otherwise swell the book beyond the dimensions of the binding. To make a book for yourself, in a homely style, take six sheets of paper folded one inside the other. Stitch them through the centre, putting in the needle at C, taking it through A and B, back to C, and there knotting the two ends together, Fig. 5. Then take another set of six sheets, and so on until you have enough for a book, stitch the whole of them through in three places, as shown in Fig. 6, first at A, knotting it together behind, then at B and at C. The book ought now to be pressed in a carpenter's bench or press, the back upwards. Next glue the backs well, and attach three strips of linen rags, also well glued, as shown in Fig. 7. Afterwards glue the outside of them and attach the covers, in the way shown in .Fig. 8. After the sides have been pressed and dried twenty-four hours, a strip of fancy paper, or leather, or velvet is put over the back, as shown by the dotted line A, covering over the sides and corners of the covers, as shown by the dotted line B; these are turned down inside the covers and finished off neatly. The paper or silk to cover the sides is now to be put on. Albums may also be made very pretty by binding them in embossed cards, or cards covered with silk. The way to manage this is to put the back of velvet on the book before you put on the sides; or velvet enough to line the cover may be carried across the whole side of the book. The fly-leaf, or first leaf of a book ought to be nicely gummed or pasted down to the inside of the cover as soon as the binding is otherwise finished, and dried again.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-V.
TO IMITATE BUSTS AND STATUETTES IN MARBLE BY MEANS OF WAX.
beautiful imitations of marble or Parian statuettes may be made at a small cost
by the following simple process:-
Let the experimenter begin with any well-shaped busts. Choose plaster casts measuring eleven inches high and seven broad - these can be bought for very little from the itinerant vendors ; we have so purchased them for less than a shilling each; at the shops they will be charged from eighteen-pence to half-a-crown (on account of a difference in the quality), but they are worth the extra cost if you wish to have them nicely done, and a close imitation of marble.
Procure a pound of perfectly white wax candles (six to the pound), break up and melt three of these in a small saucepan - a pint one is about the size; it should be deep enough well to contain the wax.* [* Paraffin candles are excellent for this purpose, being very white, hard, and admitting of a high polish; and their cheapness is a recommendation, but the material is dangerous. To use it in safety, the candles must be melted and used instantly, not left on the fire to get over-heated, or the paraffin will ignite. In finishing a certain bust with paraffin candles we let the melted material remain over a gas stove after it was melted, and it caught fire some one threw water on it, which caused an explosion, nearly filling the kitchen and singeing the eyebrows and hair of the operator. The safest way in such accident is to let the fire quietly burn itself out.] Also have ready a basin, about eight inches in circumference, if shallow and spread at the mouth the better; put the basin on a large dish to catch any droppings of wax. The kitchen table will be a convenient place, as the work must be done where it is tolerably warm, especially if in winter. The operator begins with the pedestal, takes the head of the cast next, and finishes with the bust. As soon as the wax is melted, hold the pedestal of the statue over the basin, and pour the wax all over it in a full wash, so as to get it quite smooth. Return the wax from the basin to the saucepan, and pour it again over the pedestal (this may be repeated three or four times, but directly the wax begins to thicken melt it again because as it cools it will leave guttering marks). Completely cover the pedestal, but do not let any of the wax touch the bust. If the back is not quite perfect it can be left till the last. Next take the head; hold it, face upwards, over the basin, and pour the wax over it, beginning near the chin: the throat, head, and [-165-] face ought to be covered each time. When you have given these several coats of wax, so that the work is about half finished, hold the bust across the basin, and cover it in the same way, moving the saucepan from side to side so as to cover it well with each coat. After this you will probably find that the whole figure needs more wax. The thickness of the wax when finished should be about the sixteenth of an inch, measured by a rule, but judgment is the best guide.
The things it is most necessary to guard against are irregularities in pouring on the wax, dust, smuts, and dirt. The hands and all utensils must be kept very clean. There may be black marks in the cast which show very prominently when the first coat of wax is put on, but which become obscured before the figure is finished. Do not touch these, but from time to time you may remove any droppings or prominent blemishes carefully, either before the wax sets or after it is hard, as when it begins to set, the whole thickness of coatings will peel off in large blotches if disturbed. When the final wash has been poured on, and the whole is partially set, you may carefully cut away all excrescences, and model your figure (placed near the fire so as to be warm, but not to melt the wax) in every part by degrees, with the hands and fingers, rubbing the rounded parts if not quite smooth, and pressing out improper marks by repeated manipulation. If the back have any parts not covered with wax, these may be made good by patching on and moulding in any small pieces of half-melted wax there may be about.
On the following day, when the wax is thoroughly hardened, polish it a over by rubbing it lightly and quickly with the fingers and palm of the hand. It will take a very high polish, and this finishing admits of the exercise of considerable skill and patience, which will be rewarded if the work is done well enough, as it may be, to deserve putting under a glass shade.
The work may be done at different times; a coat of wax may be laid on one day and another the next, or when it is all laid on and modelled the polishing may be delayed for some days ; but the modelling must be done while the wax is almost warm from the last coat.
The quantity of wax needed to cover a bust of the size mentioned is five candles out of a pound of six. It would be less trouble to have a deep pipkin full of melted wax and dip the figure repeatedly, into it; but this would require a great deal more wax, and therefore be more expensive. This would, however, be worth while if it is intended to operate upon many busts and statuettes. A quantity of wax will melt best in a large glazed pipkin with a lid, placed in a hot oven.
Trace the subjoined design on a large square of moderately stout cardboard; or, instead of a square, say a piece fourteen inches by eleven. The tracing should be as light as possible. With a sharp penknife cut round the entire outline, leaving the vase and flowers attached only at the base, A to A. It will be perceived that none of the pieces are entirely severed from one another, every one being joined at some place to the whole. Thus there is one continuous outline, but none of the other lines must touch it, or each other. The centres of the leaves are cut through in the middle, but the cut does not extend to the sides. Colour the portion of the card indicated by the dotted lines E to G, on the opposite side of the card from which it is to be looked at, from B to C, and from D to E, with a smear of strong carmine, from C to D with sap green, from F to F cobalt blue, and all the rest of the edges within the dotted lines with a paler tint of green. The part round the vase is left uncoloured. Let the colours be both deep and full. They must be put on very strong in tint; no skill is needed ; any one can do it well with a paint-brush. When completed, bend the group of flowers and vase the very least bit possible backwards through the aperture. In this state hold it up towards the light of a candle or single gas-burner, the coloured part turned towards the light. The effect is beautiful. Wall papers with floral designs will furnish ample models, or any vase or group of flowers, only in cutting them the operator must remember never to sever them entirely one from another. The best way to trace a pattern for this purpose is to prick the design all over and dot through the pricked holes in pencil; or use a tracing-paper made by scraping a quantity of black chalk or charcoal on a piece of writing- paper, and rubbing it well into the paper. Place this face downwards on the card. Having previously traced the design you wish to produce on transparent tracing- paper, place it on the black, and with a sharp pencil mark the outline hard. Enough will remain on the card for the experimenter to lightly draw in the subject when the papers are removed. The less the outline which is drawn is visible, the better the effect. Busts and statues also form charming subjects, and may easily be traced from photographs.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-VI.
PAPER FLOWER MAKING.
THE art of paper flower making is an elegant one, and capable of very high
perfection. It has also this merit, that, unlike many accomplishments, the very
earliest attempts of amateurs are at least pretty, even if unfit to decorate the
drawing-room. Paper flowers, when entirely made by hand, are not very expensive.
The component parts for forming most of the flowers can be purchased prepared,
and in that case, of course, become more costly A little skill is needed to put
them together rightly they do not cost a third what the finished flowers do.
A rose is one of those flowers the parts of which cannot be had ready to purchase, and it is not a difficult flower to make ; we will therefore first give our readers directions to construct it.
It must not be forgotten that the object of the paper flower maker is to imitate nature as closely as possible therefore the learner should observe flowers well. When ever it is possible, obtain a fine specimen of whatever flower you desire to copy from the garden or conservatory Examine it well, and then pick it to pieces. Cut out in white paper models of every size of petal which it bears. Mark on every sized petal you take as a pattern how many of that size the flower contains. Then cut them out in paper of corresponding colour, and make them up, as closely imitating the real flower as you possibly can.
At first it will be well to make up a few flowers from the outlined patterns we shall give. If these are practised through the winter months, the learner will be able by the summer to copy from nature, and keep by her her own patterns taken from the flowers of her own garden.
To make paper flowers a few tools will be required. A pair of wooden goffers, which will form bowls of four different sizes, and resemble the illustration, Fig. 1 ; a pair of steel pincers, Fig. 2 ; a fine pair of scissors, with long points ; some cement ; a reel of very fine green flower-wire, and some strong wire for the stems.
It is easier for a beginner to fill a basket than a vase, because in a basket the flowers are closer packed and less critically observed. Rather stiff stems suit best for a. basket; but for a vase the finer and more flexible wire is needed. The stems are not seen in a basket, and may be made stronger. Choose plain wire, uncovered. Either for [-194-] a vase or basket artificial moss will be needed ; for the latter about half a pound. Fill a basket-well closely, and heaped up with a rise in the centre. A vase must be filled nearly to the top. This is to hold the flowers in their places. The moss must be well pulled out, and should be two parts green and one part brown.
French tissue-paper must be used for flowers. Common tissue will not crimp or goffer well, nor is it sufficiently transparent and bright hued. The French paper seems dear from 2d. to 6d. a small sheet - but many roses can be made out of sixpennyworth of the paper. The pink sheets are about 6d. each. You can also buy variegated sheets of pink, yellow, buff, and red and yellow-streaked sheets, made up admirably for roses, and tulips, and crocuses, imitating nature very closely.
A large square pincushion, with only a calico cover, is necessary.
To make the Cement. -Take an ounce of gum tragacanth, and a little bit of alum the size of two peas. Put this in a wide-mouthed small bottle, or small pomatum pot. Mix a little flour and cold water. Pour it on the gum, and let it stand in the oven till dissolved, assisting it if necessary by kneading it with a piece of wood. Melt it to a strong jelly that will not harden for a few weeks. One of the flower wires, eight inches long, is the best thing to use for applying the cement.
To make a Cabbage Rose, three sheets of three different shades of deep pink paper are needed, and one of green; also a very little cotton wool, and a reel of green sewing silk.
There are five different-sized leaves used for a cabbage rose, and a square piece. Take a little piece of wool and covering it with the square of paper, make it into a little ball, and tie it round. You will need two more of these Then begin to cut out the petals. Fold the paper so as to cut eight each time. If the paper is folded too thick it can never be cut well, but on the contrary the scissors are spoiled. Out of the darkest shade cut Figs. 3 and 4, nine of each, and nine of Fig. 5 in the middle shade. These petals are to be crimped, which is done by laying one at a time on the cushion, and also bring them down lengthways with the pincers, which are held between the fingers, bringing the prongs nearly together, and pinching up the paper between them, so as to make the irregular crisp-looking creases noticed in the heart of a rose. The marks must be very strong, and the leaves quite crimped up, working the strokes from A to B, Fig. 6 which represents Fig. 6 when crimped. The pincers are held in the right hand, and the petal on the cushion by the left.
Stick together with cement by their narrow ends three petals of Fig. 4, three of Fig. 5, and three of Fig 6 as shown in Fig. 8. Make two more groups in the same way, which will use up all the petals you have.
Cut out in the middle shade of paper nine petals like Fig. 10. Lay each separately on the cushion, and with the second-sized goffer rub it gently, pressing it in the middle till it curls all round the bowl of the goffer then curl it still smaller with the third-sized goffer, and turn back the extreme edges very slightly with the point of the pincers. Put three of these leaves on the outside of each of the three groups of leaves. Then with the cement fix one of each of the three groups of leaves upon one of the three balls shown full size in Fig. 9. Cut off next three petals of Fig. 3, three of Fig. 4, and three of Fig. 5, and crimp them as you did the first. Cement these together in three little groups, one of Fig. 3, one Fig. 4, and one Fig. 5. Then tie the three little balls, with the three groups of leaves upon them, to the top of a wire stem, eight inches long. Be sure it is tied on very firmly. If the top of the wire has a tiny crook made it will be more secure. Tie the balls so that the groups of leaves attached form a close and well-shaped heart for the rose. The halls must be entirely hidden by the petals. Then in the three spaces between these three groups cement the three little groups of three petals which you have just crimped. Next cut out twenty-four petals like Fig. 10. Coffer them on the cushion, using the largest and the second goffer to sixteen of them, and the third goffer to the other eight. Curl them all back at the edges with the point of the pincers. Hold the rose in your hand downwards, and put on, by touching the lower point of each leaf with cement, the eight leaves first, and then the other sixteen of the twenty-four, laying them regularly all round, one a little over the other. Now leave the rose to dry, having finished by cementing the base well.
The reason why it is best to cut out a few petals at a time and place them. on, and then return to the task of making more petals, is because, if the first leaves are yet - wet when the next are applied, they will all come off in patches before the flower is finished, and spoil it.
The calyx must be added as soon as the rose is dry. The easiest and best way is to buy rose calyxes by the dozen. If, however, the amateur wishes to make them herself she must purchase a sheet of bright pale-green paper, not tissue, and cut out the calyx like Fig. 11, keeping the spikes as sharp and natural as possible. It must then be covered thickly with cement and left to dry. Afterwards it must be united by fastening the side A B to C D by the little bit seen projecting from A to B. Let this dry. Then thoroughly cement the inside, put in a very little wool, enough to fill the cup of the calyx, and slip it up the wire with the part from A to C meeting the swell of the petals to which the cement is attached. If the petals drop too much,, the spires of the calyx may be fastened to them with a touch of cement to support them.
Cut a long strip of green tissue-paper, half an inch wide, and very even. Gum it slightly from A to B, and attach this to the calyx. Hold the wire stem in one hand, ii and by passing it nimbly through the fingers of the other 2 hand roll the paper tightly and smoothly all down the stalk. Leave the flower upside down, to dry completely ii It is best to place it in a box till the next day. Then with the points of the goffers set and turn the rose petals and curl them anyway you like, to imitate nature as closely as possible. If the flower is for a basket use it as it is. For a vase, it had better be made into a sprig, by adding a bud with a leaf to it, tying the stems of these to the rose stem with the green silk, or fine wire, and covering it again with paper. Then lower down on the rose stem add another leaf in the same way, and again cover that join with green paper. Bend the stems gracefully and naturally, and bend the leaves also.
Leaves are never made in the paper. They must be bought, which they can be for the purpose, in dozens or half-dozens, and are made of muslin. Vary them in colour as much as possible.
These roses may be made in any shade of pink, from a pale tint to a deep rose colour. Yellow roses can also be formed from the same pattern, but are better cut a mere shade smaller in every petal. The yellow need three shades-the lightest for the petals Figs. 3 and 4; the middle for Figs. 5 and 8 ; and the darkest for Fig. 10. For a damask rose cut the patterns visibly smaller.
To cut the patterns, first trace the diagrams from the HOUSEHOLD GUIDE on any thin paper; cut them out, and cut thin card patterns from them. Having made a set for the pink cabbage-roses, mark them in ink "cabbage rose." Cut another set, and make them slightly smaller, and label them "yellow rose." Then another set, cutting them away all round the edge decidedly smaller, and label "damask rose." If you also put on them how many petals of each are wanted, you have your patterns ready for use.
The yellow and the damask rose are both made with this difference to the cabbage-rose, that in the centre of each there is a heart of stamens and pistils, and the petals made into little groups as before described, are attached [-195-] to this instead of to three balls. The way of making these centres will soon be given. When the damask-rose petals are cut out, they must be all of the deepest and brightest red paper, and of one colour. Before crimping or goffering them, mix some powder carmine with a little gum in a saucer, and with a camel's-hair brush of medium size paint them well, the three first sizes entirely on the right side, and the two largest half way down; after which they must be allowed to dry thoroughly.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?VII.
PAPER FLOWER MAKING (continued from p.195)
Making the Stamens and Pistils.?Our next
instructions will be how to make the hearts, as they are commonly called, but
which are known botanically as stamens and pistils. It is by far the best plan,
and the usual one, to purchase these, for the making of them is in itself a
business. It is usual also to buy the calyxes. Persons may fancy that when all
these portions are purchased, the art of flower making becomes simply
mechanical. This it is not : a good deal of patience, nice manipulation, and
taste, are needed to produce flowers worthy of admiration. However, for those
who desire to do so, we give instructions which will enable them to construct
these portions of the flowers at home.
Very fine wire is used for the main stem of the stamen, otherwise, when it comes to be added to the flower-stalk, the result would be too bulky. Exceedingly fine wire, bristles, or a fine strong glace thread, can be used for the fine threadlike stamens ; in fact, many people prefer cotton to any other material for this purpose. If wire or fine bristle is used, it must be dipped in whiting mixed to a thin paste, with a very little gum in it. When dry, dip the tips in the cement, to make knobs at the end. When these are nearly, but not quite dry, dip them into a pill-box filled with bright yellow paint powder which can be bought at any oil-shop for a penny or two-pence. Bright green (emerald), rich brown, and orange paint, will also be needed. A small quantity of powder carmine, and powder cobalt will be wanted for the flowers, and in moist paints, carmine, prussian blue, cobalt, and a small piece of gamboge.
Having prepared the thread-like stamens as described, take the wire meant for their support, and dip the top into the cement, repeating the process till you have a knob at the top (like that shown in Fig. 17). Cut one of your stamens in half and insert it at the top whilst the cement is wet. Also, before it is dry, coat it evenly all over with the emerald green powder, which is put on with a dry brush. You must use a separate brush for each colour. A quicker mode of making the pistil, is by putting a little cotton wool on the stem, by means of cement, shaping it properly, and then dipping it into the cement. Tie six more of the stamens to the pistil, with green silk. This completes the centre (Fig. i7) for azaleas.
Fig. 14 is the pistil for a carnation. It is made with a knob of cement like the last, the long centre is a single strand of white ostrich feather. Fig. 7 is a geranium centre, the stamens made like the azalea stamens, only longer, and seven in number. The pistil consists of three filaments joined together in one, with gum; but having them separate just at the top. They are not tipped with any pollen, as the coloured dust is called.
Fig. 11 is for rhododendrons. The stamens, nine in number, like the azalea stamens, but much longer and tipped with yellow. The pistil is of thick wire, neatly wrapped round with yellow paper, as stalks are wrapped. Dip the tip in strong gum, and whilst wet, into the brown powder.
Fig. 1 is a rose centre. On the fine wire used for the basis of the centre, tie a few loops of pea-green Berlin wool or thick filoselle. Then cut them close down, so that they look like a little close tuft of velvet pile. Make twenty - six stamens like the azalea centres, but much shorter, and tip them with yellow.
Fig. 15 is a heartsease centre. Take wire like that you have used to form the centres on. Coat it with whiting, as already de. scribed. Make a knob of cement nearly at the tip, and colour it orange by dipping it in the powder. The orange is to be almost a scarlet. In the figure we have shown a knob at each end of the wire; each of these is for a separate heart.
Fig. 8 is a China-aster heart. Take a common . linen button, cover it with net so as to fasten it flat to a wire crooked at the top. Raise it to the required height with cement, and before the last coat is dry, put closely all over it a number of yellow seed beads. When dry, dip it in gum, and then tip it with yellow powder. The daisy centre is made in a similar way, with a smaller round of cardboard and not raised, but the beads just gummed on and dipped in yellow powder, Fig. io. A daisy may also be made with a centre of yellow wool like the rose centre, Fig. 3.
[-265-] Fig. 5 is a lily centre. The pistil is formed of white wax, painted green with a knob at the top, marked with carmine spots. The stamens are of wire dipped in wax, or covered with tissue paper, white, finest at the tip, and large anthers of wax, coloured brown, upon them.
Calyxes. ?Gum together three thicknesses of dark
green tissue-paper, and let them dry before cutting the calyxes. Afterwards
glaze them with gum. It would be endless to give patterns of the different forms
of calyxes, the artist must go to Nature for patterns. We give three, in Figs.
2, 6, and 9. They should be traced in tissue and then cut in card. Lay the card
on the green paper and pencil the outline.
The Azalea and the Rhododendron. ? Fig. 12 represents the azalea. Cut the blossoms in white paper, the dark marks at the tips are made by tinting them with a little of the moist carmine, diluted to a delicate rose pink and laid on with a clean camel's - hair brush. Let it be quite dry before being crimped. It is laid on a cushion and carefully and deeply veined in the manner shown in the illustration. Then touching it with cement from A to B, unite it. Tie with silk or wire a heart to a stem. Then slip it through the azalea, having first touched the lower part of the heart all round with cement. The azalea needs no calyx. Take a very little wadding, and put it round the stem where the flower joins, drawing it down : then cover the stein with paper. A little wadding is used in this way to all flowers, to give the stem the thickness observable to- wards the blossom. The merest atom is needed for such flowers as azaleas, not much more for roses. About three azaleas form a group. Other azaleas may have a margin all round the edge of deep rose, and others may be cut from pink or rose-coloured paper, and just tipped or touched round a little darker. Rhododendrons are made exactly the same, but coloured with a broad margin of mauve round every petal ; the extreme edges touched again when the first tint is dry, to make them darker. Mix on a clean plate, carmine and cobalt for this ; dilute it with water, but do not use it very wet to the flower, nor yet dry enough to look smeared. It must be washed on lightly and easily with one stroke. The rhododendron centres are distinct, and the blossoms in groups of five or more, of equal height, forming one head. The azaleas, on the contrary, grow one above the other and fewer in a spray. If you wish to place a single spray of any flower in a vase, a few leaves of the right kind must be set on the stem. For a basket, rose and camellia leaves are enough. For a table stand, rose-leaves, grass, and ferns.
A half-blown Rosebud.- Half-blown buds are very effective. Make them in white paper slightly tipped with pale pink, or in pink or rose paper, or in orange paper streaked with red, cutting the outsides of the darkest shades, and the darkest towards the stalk. To make one of these deep yellow buds, use four petals of the largest size but one of the cabbage rose, cut in the palest tint from shaded paper. Goffer them inwards. Close two over a bud centre, and two more over that. Then cut eleven of the largest-sized petals, a still darker shade, and another eleven of the darkest of all. Goffer and cut them outwards, and let the darker shade be the outer one.
A bud centre is made by cutting a three-cornered piece of paper the shape of the rose. Take a piece of cotton wool, tie it to a stalk, and cover it with the paper as in Fig. 13. Tie it down. This cone must not be visible. For an ordinary bud, cut three of the second largest-sized petals of the darkest tint, goffer them inwards and close them over the cone. Cut three more of the largest size, goffer them and curl them outwards. Place these round the bud like opening leaves.
Carnation.?The carnation is a beautiful flower, and easy to make. Cut it in white paper like Fig. 4, and with powder carmine and a little weak gum water, mixed together well on a plate, colour a brilliant red the dark band with streaky edges. When quite dry, place it on the cushion and vein every petal from A to B, drawing the pincers down in deep irregular marks. Six of these circles are used for every flower. It is easiest to cut them out plain first and vandyke the edges, and cut the irregular marks [-266-] that characterise the flower afterwards. To make them up, cement each all round the centre as far as where the petals divide. Crumple the first one quite close up all round the heart, hiding it entirely, and squeezing the paper as much as possible. Make the next one close, and each future one looser and looser. Finish with the calyx. If you make your own calyx, it ought to be formed and dry ready for use, and a little wool secured inside by cement. After it is made, gum over the outside.
Primrose (Fig. 16).?This is made with three rounds, either of pale yellow paper over the Michaelmas daisy heart, the first paper crumpled well up to conceal all the heart, the second partly closed and the outer one flat. Or it may be of mauve, cut in white paper and coloured at the edge like the rhododendron, or tinted pale pink.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?VIII.
MOST of our readers have seen, no doubt, in the windows of bird-stufers'
shops, screens made of the wings and head, with more or less of the breast feathers, and often the tails of different kinds of birds ; but few perhaps know how easily they are made by amateurs, and what exceedingly pretty screens may be produced with a comparatively small amount of trouble and practice (see Fig.
1). The work is not beyond ordinary skill, and we have seen some very good ones made by ladies, though the sight of raw flesh, and the necessity of getting over scruples about touching it with the fingers, often deters them from attempting the necessary operations. We shall now give the result of our practical experience, and explain the
tails of the manufacture step by step,
assuming that the reader is totally ignorant
of the art of bird-stuffing.
The implements required are very simple, viz., a good strong penknife, very sharp at the point, a quill pen, a small quantity of flowers of sulphur, arsenical soap, wadding, or cotton wool, or tow, a smooth board, some twine, a darning- needle, some strong pins, a hammer, and some copper bell-wire. The pen is to be cut in the shape of a scoop or narrow spoon, and is used for removing the brains from the head of the bird, and for pressing the cotton wool or other material when saturated with arsenical soap, into the skull and other places. Arsenical soap can be obtained at almost any chemist's, and there are numerous recipes, all more or less valuable; but the following is all that is really requisite for our present purpose:? Cut into thin slices or pieces three-quarters of a pound of common brown soap, put it into a pipkin or earthen jar with a little water, and stir it on the hob till it becomes of the consistency of paste or thick cream, - then stir into it about half a pound of powdered white arsenic, and the mixture is ready for use.
The first thing is to select a bird, and we need hardly say that it is useless (at any rate for a beginner) to attempt to do anything with a bird whose wing-feathers have been torn by shot, or whose head or neck is disfigured by blood.
Some birds are, of course, more suitable for making screens than others, and some require a different treatment from others, and are more difficult to manage. There is also a particular season of the year when wild birds are in their best plumage, which does not apply to tame birds, but these are points we cannot now enter into. One of the birds most easily obtained is the common house-pigeon, and if carefully selected he will form as pretty a screen as any British bird we know of. Generally speaking, a male bird should be selected, the plumage being brighter. Assuming, then, that we have got our pigeon dead, and that he lies on his back on the table before us, the first thing to be done is to remove the wings, and this is done by severing the muscles at the elbow-joint, and is most conveniently done from the inside of the wing. Fig. 2 will show the direction the cut should take, so as to get rid, as much as possible, of those portions which we do not want, and retain those we do want.
In some birds, and for the purpose of making screens of a more fanciful shape, the wings may be taken off nearer the body of the bird ; but, we are assuming that this is a first attempt, therefore propose the easiest shape. The wings may now be laid aside for some days (if necessary), as it is not so important that they should be quite fresh for the purposes of our operations, as that the head should be in that state.
Place the bird on its back with its head towards you, and a lead pincushion or other weight across its tail and feet to keep it steady ; then raise the breast feathers about the place where you would expect to find the top of the merry-thought (as the furcula bone is called) and carefully holding back the feathers, cut the skin across with the point of your knife, taking care not to cut too deeply. Continue this cut on each side, slanting it downwards towards the head, so as to escape the wings ; then turn the bird over, and join the two cuts straight across the back. After this, replace the bird in its former position, and by gentle pulling and cutting, the skin will come off very easily, inside out, over the head of the bird. A little stretching of the skin will be required, and a little further use of the knife, when the skin of the neck has to be brought over the head, and care must be taken when you approach the ears of the bird, to cut the skin as deeply down into the orifice of the ear as possible, thus leaving only a very small hole. Immediately succeeding the cars the eyes will appear, and here also care must be taken to avoid cutting the eye-lids, while the muscles which attach the lids to the circumference of the eyes will require some sharp cuts with the point of the knife-During the whole of this operation, the skin, and, indeed, the flesh of the neck, may all from time to time be dusted with flowers of sulphur, which will prevent the feathers from getting spoilt by curling over and coming in contact with the flesh. If the bird has been shot, and the neck or skin shows traces of blood, it may be necessary tc have a cloth at hand to wipe off the exudations as much as possible, or a piece of soft paper may be wrapped round the neck where the skin has been removed, and thus avoid any chance of spoiling your work. Having skinned down as far as the base of the beak, your bird will present an appearance like that seen in Fig. 3.
The neck should now be severed from the head at the base of the skull, and all pieces of flesh or skin on the skull and jaws should, as far as possible, be scraped or cut off, taking care not to sever the joints where the lower jaw-bones are fixed to the head. The eyes must be carefully cut round and taken out whole, and the brain scooped [-290-] out from the hole at the base of the skull, where the neck has been taken off ? this hole may be a little enlarged for the purpose. When this has been done, the cavity of the skull should be firmly stuffed full of the wool, with sufficient arsenical soap to completely wet it, and the eyes should be replaced by little balls of the same material, made as solid as possible, and rather larger than the natural eye-ball. The reason for filling the skull firmly with this mixture will appear hereafter. Little bits of the same should also be poked into the palate, where divided (taking care to let no arsenical soap run down into the beak, or the feathers will be damaged), and the space between the jaws should also be filled with the soaked wool. When this is done, the skull may be rubbed over with arsenical soap, and the skin then re-drawn over the skull?this is easily done by feeling for the end of the beak, and holding it firmly, gently pulling the skin back into its natural place. Special care must be taken that the openings for the eyes are over the centre of the balls of cotton wool.
The next thing that should be done, is to stuff the exterior nostrils of the bird (especially if prominent, as is the case with many pigeons) with the soaked wool, for which purpose two little pieces of the size of a grain of rice each will generally suffice. The mouth must then be opened, and as much soaked wool as it will hold, in lieu of the tongue, put in, carefully plastering it down with your penknife, so as not to show when the beak is shut.
The eyes (or rather eye, for one will generally suffice) is the next thing, and the bird should now be carefully examined to see which side is the most presentable, and which eye is most perfect as to feathering and eyelid. Artificial birds'-eyes can be bought of bird-stuffers at 2d., or sometimes 2d. a pair, and you have only to specify the colour and the kind of bird, to obtain what you want. Of course, you should endeavour to match the natural colour as nearly as possible. To put the eye in nicely is an art that experience alone can teach. A little hole or indentation, should be made in the centre of the spurious eye-ball with the knife or the darning-needle to receive the wire at the back of the eye, and the rest can only be described as a process of putting a button through a very limp buttonhole with the aid of the darning-needle.
The darning-needle, or some implement of this sort, is also useful to bring up the eyelid over the edge of the eyeball, and to arrange it in its natural shape, taking care to tuck back any stray hairs of wool that may come into sight. We are aware that some bird-stuffers do not put in the eyes while the lids are fresh and soft, but we hold to our plan notwithstanding.
The inside of the skin may now be liberally daubed with arsenical soap, with the finger or a brush, and then stuffed with plain wool, inserted in small pieces, and pressed closely up to the skull. Here we depart from the ordinary practice (so far as dealing with pigeons is concerned), by not inserting any wire to support the head at this period, and the benefit obtained is that the natural pose of the bird can be obtained without difficulty in this way, and the wire can be inserted afterwards, when the skin is hard.
The stuffed head is to be now arranged on a board, and a good way to fix it is to fasten a piece of cork, about an inch in height, or rather less, down to the board with a pin, and then with a fine needle pierce through the upper part of the bird's beak, or nostril, down into the cork. This assumes, of course, that you have put in one eye only, and that the head is to be put on the screen in profile. A little stroking and smoothing of the feathers, and perhaps a little more stuffing with wool, so as to bring up the breast of the bird into its natural shape, will be all that is required?possibly, aided by a pin or two being stuck through the edge of the skin of the breast into the board, and the head thus fastened is complete for the present.
The wings have now to be taken in hand, and the only thing required before stretching them out on the board, is to remove all the flesh and sinews that lie between the pinion and the elbow-joints, taking care not to cut the connection between the two bones at these joints. No care need be taken to preserve the skin and feathers that cover the edges of the wings from the pinions downwards, as this part will be all covered by the head when the screen is made up. When all the flesh has been removed, rub the skin and bones well over with arsenical soap, taking care not to soil the feathers. The best way of stretching both wings so as exactly to match each other is to draw a straight line with a pencil across the board, and then laying each wing inside downwards on it, stretch it out straight, up to the line. Begin by confining the bone close to the elbow-joint by strong pins hammered into the board, one on each side ; then confine the pinion-joint in like manner ; and then take hold of the first pinion-feather, and, with a single pin put in close to the stalk of the feather and about three inches from the end, bring it up to the pencil line ; and each succeeding feather (where they do not naturally come to their proper places) must be pinned in like manner. Many of the feathers will not lie flat to the board when this is done, and to make them do so, strips of card or mill-board may be pinned down across the whole wing in such a way as to make them lie quite flat. Take care in stretching the wings that they are placed opposite one another, and by this means you will be able to get them exactly to match. The tail or the wing coverts may then be taken off (one or the other will be required, and the latter is the easier managed), and we have done with the pigeon, which may then be sent downstairs, and, if all sulphur be removed, may be put into to-morrow's pie, or otherwise profitably disposed of. The wing coverts are tufts of strong feathers that grow on the back or shoulders of the pigeon, and should be taken off with the piece of skin on which they grew, and (after being rubbed with arsenical soap) pinned down flat on the board. When this is done, the board should be put away in a warm, dry place, where it will be free from dust for three weeks, or even longer ; and the screen-handles may now be prepared. These may be made in a variety of ways, and of numberless materials, but we will assume that we have to deal with one of the ordinary old-fashioned gilt wooden handles (costing about 2s. 6d. a pair), cleft at the top for the reception of the ordinary fancy hand-screen. First fill up the cleft by cutting a bit of wood to fit, and let it project two inches or more beyond the top; glue this in and let it dry, or bind it firmly, before proceeding ; then cut a bit of stout millboard about three or four inches square or round, but taking care that it is well within the space that will be covered by the head of the bird (or, rather, by the breast feathers, as arranged on the board), and having pared off a piece from the side of the handle, so as to fit flat to the millboard, glue, and tie (by means of holes bored in the millboard) the handle firmly to it, as will be seen in Fig. 4, p. 289. Holes should also be made in the millboard, as drawn, to assist in fastening the wings, which is our next job. The wings being now taken off the board, will be found quite stiff and flat, and do not require any additional support. Lay them side by side, as they were on the board ; glue the millboard and the space on the outside of each wing that it will cover ; and tie, with a darning-needle and some twine, the wings into their proper position. The drawing, Fig. 4, shows the handle with the cleft filled up, the piece of millboard attached, and, on one side, the wing, as fixed, covering half of it.
When both wings have thus been fixed, they should be tied together at points A and B. At the point A, by using the darning-needle and twine, but keeping under the short [-291-] feathers on the outside of the wing; and at the point B, by using a fine needle, and passing it through the stalk of each first feather. In this way, nothing will be seen from the outside. This last tie will also form a means of hanging the screen up, if desired, by means of a pin driven into the wall. The head should now be put on, and for this purpose, take it off the board, and pull out all the wool as far as the skull, taking care not to soften the hardened skin, or displace the feathers ; sharpen a piece of copper bell-wire to a fine point, and inserting it up the neck-bore through the skull, holding the pigeon's head in the palm of your hand, until the wire comes out at the top of the head. The advantage of stuffing the skull firmly will now appear, as it will give it solidity, and, though it may add to the labour of boring, will make the head more compact and secure than if left empty. The extreme end of the wire may now be turned down with a small pair of pincers, and the wire withdrawn, till the turned end is hidden amongst the feathers. Then replace the cotton wool, taking care to bend the wire to the shape, and, as far as possible, to keep it in the centre of the neck; and, having bored a hole in the millboard to match the position of the wire, glue the millboard and the edges of the skin of the breast, pass the wire through, press the head close down, and then turn the wire on the other side, tying it also to one of the wing-bones, or to some of the strings by which the wings were fastened on.
To complete the screen, the wing coverts are glued on, side by side, on the inside of the wings, to cover the bones and fastenings, making their upper ends just cover the tie A; and at the other ends, if they are not quite neat in themselves, a small bow of ribbon may be glued on afterwards.
All this may seem difficult, but very little practice will soon render it easy.
At a future time we may have something to say on the kinds of birds best fitted for screens, and their different treatment from the above; on the way of obtaining them ; and the season of the year when they are in their best plumage.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?IX.
MODELLING IN CLAY FOR AMATEURS.
IN the art of sculpture, modelling in clay forms the most important part of
the work of the artist. In the formation of a marble statue, the first process
consists in making a clay model ; from this a cast is taken in plaster of Paris,
and an exact copy in marble is carved from the plaster cast. The after labours
of casting and carving may be, and are indeed generally, left almost entirely to
workmen ; but the model, in which the design is shown, and in which all the
artistic qualities of the work, such as composition, form, and expression, are
evinced, must be the work of the artist himself. Modelling is thus, in the hands
of the professed sculptor, considered, and not without sufficient reason, as the
highest and most difficult of the arts. All modelling, however, is not
necessarily high art, does not necessarily demand great artistic powers, and is
not necessarily difficult. It is an art of wide application to merely decorative
purposes. In the common articles of use in our houses, almost all the cast
ornamental portions are produced by modelling in clay. The scroll-work and
foliage on our fenders and fire-grates, the brass ornaments on our lamps and
gas-fittings, even the figures and flowers on our earthenware, when they are
raised above the surface, are all reproductions from designs originally made by
this process; and these things are the work of persons whom no one would think
of calling artists. In fact, the difficulty of modelling, when considered as a
part of sculpture, consists in the difficulty of attaining a just knowledge of
composition, of the forms and proportions of the human figure, and not in the
management of the material. The material itself and the means of manipulating it
are of extreme simplicity ; and, with a little attention and perseverance, far
less than would be necessary to produce anything in the remotest degree
satisfactory in drawing or painting, the amateur may arrive at such results in
modelling as will afford considerable pleasure.
Apart from the gratification to be derived from the art as an occupation for leisure time?and this is no slight one, for few things are more delightful than to see actual forms growing under our hands?modelling may, in various ways, be made to conduce to the beauty of a home. Vases, brackets, pedestals, and other decorative articles, may be produced and ornamented with original designs, or with animals or foliage copied from nature, as fancy or taste may dictate. Afterwards, as the beginner grows more accustomed to the work, and becomes desirous of higher efforts, he may attempt a medallion or bust of a friend. His work, in the latter case, will probably not be quite equal to Chantrey's ; but if he copies faithfully the features of his sitter, he will have the satisfaction of preserving in an imperishable manner the actual form of his friend's face, and of giving a likeness which will show him from all points of view, and one which will therefore have a value no photograph can possess. We have already spoken of the simplicity of the means and materials employed; they have another quality which will equally recommend them for amateur use, that is, their extreme cheapness. For it few shillings the beginner may furnish himself with everything requisite. Ladies need not fear to handle the clay on the ground of its being dirty ; the clay used for modelling is in its nature clean, and is, indeed, used in domestic life for cleaning purposes, under the name of pipe-clay. It is by no means disagreeable to the touch, and wipes or washes from the hands with the greatest ease, cleansing them as soap does ; and in modelling on a small scale there is nothing that may not, by exercising a little care, be done without inconvenience in a drawing-room.
[-316-] Material.?Various kinds of clay are occasionally used, but for general purposes, and certainly for amateurs, the best is Devonshire pipe-clay. This may be obtained in a state fit for use at any pipe-maker's, at potteries, or at the shops of most plaster-figure moulders. The cost, when bought in small quantities, will not exceed one penny per pound, and in large quantities will be much less ; a quarter of a ton may be had at from ten to fifteen shillings. A single shilling's worth will suffice for a beginner. For works on a large scale, sand is sometimes mixed with the clay to make it handle more freely ; and where very delicate finish is required, as in the minute figures in silversmiths' work, a certain proportion of grease is occasionally added ; but, for ordinary purposes, the clay may be taken as the pipe-maker prepares it for his own use. In consistency it should be rather softer than putty, and more nearly resembling that of butter. It will generally be about right in this respect when procured ; should it, however, be too stiff, it may be softened by the addition of a little water?wrapping it in a wet cloth will do it most effectually ; if too soft, exposure to the air will soon harden it sufficiently. It is most desirable that it should always be kept at the degree of moisture proper for work. Let the amateur, then, procure a glazed earthen pan with a well-fitting lid, such as he can buy at any earthenware shop for about two shillings. In it the clay should be placed with so much water as will barely cover the bottom. From this there will be no sensible escape of moisture, and the clay will remain in the same state for months. After the clay has been used, it will be necessary, in order to prepare it for employ- ment a second time, to break it into pieces of about the size of walnuts, and then place in a pan with so much water as may be needed to bring it to its original state as regards moisture. When soaked, it must be thoroughly beaten up with an iron bar, and whilst that operation is being performed, all fragments of plaster of Paris, and other foreign substances, which may happen to have become mixed with it, must be carefully picked out. If the beating is not done thoroughly, in such a manner as to reduce the whole to one uniform consistency, some difficulty will be found, when the clay is used, in obtaining an even surface, and the work will have the appearance technically known as "lumpy;" but if the beating up is done properly, the clay will become of better quality with each successive using. The writer 'remembers some clay being given to him, as of superlative excellence, by a well-known old sculptor, which had been constantly manipulated for more than thirty years.
Tools.?The necessary tools are few and simple. The more important, which are used for pushing, smoothing, and scraping, are generally made of box-wood, but sometimes of bone or ivory, and are usually about six or seven inches long. Half a dozen of these, of useful shapes, will be sufficient. One or two "wire tools" should also be bought. The wire tool consists of a little piece of round wood to serve as a handle, into both ends of which pieces of bent brass wire, flattened and serrated, are inserted. This instrument will be found of value when it is necessary to scrape away the clay more deeply than can conveniently be done with one of wood or bone. Modelling tools may be bought of any large artists' colourman, and will cost from sixpence to eightpence each ; but any person can make the wooden ones for himself with a knife, a file, and a piece of sand-paper. In the cut below are given several of the most useful shapes. The illustration will furnish patterns to the maker, and guide the purchaser ; for nothing is more common than for the beginner to select tools from the great variety shown to him which, in his after practice, he will find of no service whatever. It will also be well to have two or three small hog-hair and camel-hair pencils, a pair of compasses, and a piece of sponge of close and regular texture. If he is ambitious of modelling life-size busts, the amateur will also require callipers, for taking exact measurements of the head, and a " banker " or modelling stool. This is simply a strongly-made stool of about three feet six inches high and eighteen inches diameter at the top. The top must be made of double thicknesses of board, and the upper portion so contrived as to turn, by means of a pivot, upon the lower, for the purpose of allowing the bust to be freely moved in any direction. Sometimes a screw is also introduced which allows the modeller to raise or lower his work at pleasure ; but this latter contrivance is not absolutely necessary, and tends to make the stool unsteady. Any carpenter will construct the "banker" for a few shillings ; but neither this nor the callipers will be needed by the majority of amateur modellers, and none will require them at the outset.
The First Lesson.?Let us now suppose that our intending amateur has furnished himself with all necessary appliances, and is ready for his initiatory lesson. For his first attempt he will do well not to choose a subject demanding great delicacy of execution or minute finish. In whatever style he may afterwards propose to work, he cannot do better than begin by making a copy from a plaster cast of a portion of one of the antique statues. Let him take a mask (that is the face only) of, say, the Apollo Belvedere, which will be admirable for the purpose. He can buy it of any plaster-figure moulder for a shilling. It may be well, briefly, to give reasons for selecting this. It is, in the first place, large (somewhat larger than life?what is called "heroic" size), and thus almost every part can be modelled with the thumbs and fingers, without much recourse being had to tools?for learning how to master the clay with the tools of Nature's providing is a great point in the art ; the modeller will soon see that wherever they can be brought to bear they are infinitely preferable to any other, and the earlier he learns to use them in his course of study the better. In the second place, in this mask all the surfaces are broad, and the forms clearly defined?there is nothing to perplex or distract the novice. Thirdly, it is a face full of beauty, and the task of copying it, whatever difficulties may arise, cannot be otherwise than a delightful one. Before beginning, a piece of board must be procured some two feet long by eighteen inches broad, and this must be propped on the table in such a manner as to form an inclined plane, sloped at such an angle as is most convenient to the student. Towards one end the plaster cast must be fixed ; then, with the sponge, the other half of the board must be slightly wetted for [-317-] the purpose of making the clay adhere. This being done, begin roughly to build up the clay upon it, till the general forms of the model correspond with those of the cast. And here it will be well to define the essential differences of procedure in the arts of carving and modelling. The carver cuts down through his material till he reaches the required form ; the modeller, on the contrary, builds up to it. This the beginner will do well to bear in mind ; he must not place a great mass of ,clay on his model and then cut it into shape?that would be carving; but, in roughing out, keep his work somewhat smaller and thinner than he intends it eventually to be, and reach the final form by laying on small portions of clay wherever they are required, and then smoothing them down; continuing the process till the model in every part becomes an exact copy of the plaster cast. This should be done, as far as is practicable, with the thumb and finger, and by preference with the thumb. On the smaller parts, such as the mouth, nostrils, and eyes, he will be obliged to use his tools; but where he can he should use those which most nearly resemble thumbs in shape, and should proceed with them in the manner before recommended, that is by laying on and smoothing down.
Scraping and pushing in the clay will some times be necessary ; but they should always be avoided if possible. The form having been attained, it will be necessary to give a good surface to the whole. After long practice this can be done almost entirely by the thumb; but the beginner will require some mechanical aid.
Let him take a small piece of a coarse cotton stocking (which will have a kind of ribbed texture), wet it slightly, wrap it round his thumb, and pass it firmly over the clay; the result will be a generally smooth surface, but marked with ribs from the texture of the stocking. To remove these marks the sponge must be made damp but not wet, and dabbed gently and regularly over the model. The smaller parts, which cannot well be got at in these processes, will only remain to be finished. They will look hard and crude from the tools, and must be softened down with the hog-hair and camel-hair brushes; the mask will then be completed. In the earlier operations it will be well to keep the model almost as moist as the clay before use; later, as the work is nearly finished, it should be allowed to become a little harder, but it should never become very hard. Whenever necessary, water may be sprinkled on with the sponge ; and between the intervals of work the model should be covered with a wet cloth ; if it is left for many successive days, it should also be wrapped in a piece of oil-cloth.
Some may imagine that, for a first attempt, the subject we have suggested is too difficult ; but years of experience in the practical teaching of modelling have convinced us that this is not the case, the forms, although refined and beautiful, being simple-and readily understood.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?X.
FEATHER SCREENS (continued from p. 291).
IN speaking of the kinds of birds best adapted for being
manufactured into screens, we can only give the genera] rule that all birds
which have naturally a rapid
flight form good subjects, their wing-feathers
being strong and stiff, and not liable to get
spoilt. The owl, for instance (to take a case
of an opposite character), is not so well
suited for a screen as a pigeon. or a duck, for,
though he has a beautiful spread of wing-feathers, and with his large head and
form a noble screen, yet the softness and
delicacy of his feathers, so necessary for his
silent flight, renders the screen he may be transformed into, very easily soiled
by dust (at
least in the neighbourhood of London), and
spoilt by handling. All the hawk-tribe, on the
other hand, are excellent ; the large brilliant
eye and short hooked beak being very effective
(see Fig. 2) ; and their wing-feathers, being
strong, are of a tolerably hard material, though
not nearly so hard and durable as those of the
wild duck, widgeon, or any of the numberless duck-tribe. So far, indeed, as the
strength, and colouring of the wing-is concerned,
the duck-tribe are by far the best subjects for
screens that we know of; but when we remember
the difficulties of making their long necks and not always beautiful bills
assume a graceful attitude, we return at once to the opinion with which we
started, that the race of pigeons (so far as British birds are concerned) bears
off the palm of general capability. In
London, however, it is very difficult to
get pigeons that are worth anything; the tame pigeons at the poulterers' shops
being generally (and our readers probably know that they should be always) young
birds that have only their first coat on (if they
have got all their feathers) ; and even if an old bird should be found amongst
them, or the wild pigeon should be selected, the chances are that they have been
so mangled in the killing or carriage as to be useless for our purpose. Wild
ducks, widgeon, pintails, teal, and other kinds of ducks can, however, be
readily obtained in
London in perfect condition. Owing, however, to the size of the bill in the
larger sorts, we prefer the smaller for making screens, and shall presently give
the result of our experience in dealing with a teal, as compared with the
directions previously given in the case of the
In selecting any bird for making a screen, whether from the poulterer's shop or from the dove- cot of a farm-house or elsewhere, the main points are, to see that plumage is good, the quill-feathers of the wing fully developed and perfect in their graduated lengths, and (if the bird is dead) that the feathers of the neck have not been damaged by the dislocation that is usually resorted to. But in selecting a tame pigeon there are other points to be attended to ; this is caused by the variety of colouring, which (though it adds to the value of the pigeon-race for making screens) is very often not equally distributed. For instance, one wing may have the three first quill-feathers white on one side, while on the other side four or five may be of this colour, or, perhaps, a single dark one may form the first quill-feather, and then three white ones. These irregularities will much interfere with the beauty of your screen, if not noticed in time, and though they may sometimes be counteracted by painting, this is not often successful. Generally speaking, a pigeon with quite white quill-feathers should be rejected, as it is seldom that they are so clean as not to show some traces of dirt at the points, and the slate, fawn, or grey colour ed pigeons, are generally much more beautifully marked in other respects. From this it will be seen that it by no means follows that the prettiest pigeon that walks about (and picks up the peas you have enticed him down with), will form the handsomest screen. We must here say a word or two as to the time of year when tame pigeons ought to be in full feather, and we say ought, because they often upset all one's calculations by moulting at irregular times, the result, no doubt, of domestication, and the numerous families they rear in the course of each year. Just before, and during the beginning of the breeding season, they will generally be found to have no short [-322-] feathers, and therefore to be most fit for the purpose we have in view ; but, of course, breeders do not like supplying you at this season, even if you were hard-hearted enough to kill a pigeon during his honeymoon, or when he had become the head of a young family. Many birds, however, of two years old (and they should not be less) will be found in good feather till August or September,. when family considerations will not interfere with your choice. Wild birds are usually in their best plumage late in the shooting season, but as the amateur need not have any voice in the time or manner of their death, I shall say nothing further on this subject.
Of other British birds suitable for screens, there are probably numbers that we do not know, and many others that we might mention, notably, black game, woodcock, curlew, gulls, and sea-birds of numerous sorts. Of wild pigeons, the prettiest screen we have made was from a stock dove (Columba aenas), the metallic colouring on the feathers of the neck being particularly effective, and the wings beautifully shaded. A teal in perfect plumage, Fig. 3, is (as probably our readers well know) a most beautiful little bird, and in making a screen of one, we recommend the following variation from the plan of operations already given, when dealing with a pigeon. In skinning the neck it will be found impossible to stretch it sufficiently to let the head come through, and it must therefore be slit or cut throughout its entire length. This cut is most conveniently made in the course of skinning, and should commence from the centre of the back and run up the back of the neck and head sufficiently far to let the head come through without difficulty. I prefer the back of the neck for this cut, because the feathers naturally meet and form a ridge there, which hides the subsequent stitches, but, of course, the intended posture of the bird may render it more desirable to make the cut up one side or in front. When the skull has been prepared, and the feathers redrawn over it, the wire to support the neck should be sharpened, then wrapped round, to within about two inches of its point, with wool, to a size similar to the naked neck of the bird, and then be inserted through the skull, leaving the end projecting, as a handle to assist in bringing the bird to its proper posture when placed on the board. The skin of the neck should be very slightly anointed with the arsenical soap, as it is almost impossible to prevent some of the feathers from getting soiled in some degree, and the out must then be, sewn up. This requires a good deal of patience, as the feathers are constantly getting caught by the thread, and seem to be possessed by a persistent idea that they are wanted to add to the stuffing in the neck. The best stitch for this kind of work is found to be that well known to schoolboys who have covered tennis-balls, and which is sometimes adopted in lacing up walking-boots; i.e., passing in the needle always from the under side of each edge alternately of the parts to be brought together; by this means the skin is not so likely to tear, and the feathers more easily coaxed into their 'proper places as you proceed.
So much for the head, which in other respects, with the wings, is treated in the same way as before mentioned in the case of a pigeon. But when the screen has to be made up, it will probably be found that, owing to the narrow expanse of the wings, they would appear to be too small for the head, or, at any rate, that much of their beauty would be hidden under the breast-feathers and their effect lost. Instead, therefore, of gluing them close up to the stick, as in the case of the pigeon, it will be found desirable to fix them some distance apart at the base, dispensing, perhaps, altogether with the tie A, mentioned in a former article (see Fig. 4, page 289), and instead of the appearance there presented when one wing is affixed, it will be as in Fig. 1, page 321. It will be seen that to effect this, the millboard must be made proportionately larger, and so long as it is covered by the breast-feathers, the wider it always is the better. It should also be somewhat stouter than in the case of a bird whose wings are brought close up to the stick, or what is perhaps better, the addition of a piece of millboard, to be glued and tied to the inside of the wings after they are fixed, to correspond with the piece attached to the stick. This arrangement will leave a larger space to cover in the inside of the wings, and for this purpose both the tail and the wing coverts may be brought into use. The under side of the tail of this bird especially should be made use of, as it is very pretty.
Should any light-coloured feathers of a bird become soiled with blood, either from the effects of being shot, or unskilful management in skinning, or be stained with dirt, they may be cleaned in the following manner :?Paint the parts affected with a soft brush and warm water, till they are soaked through, without, however, ruffling the feathers, and then sprinkle them thickly over with dry whitening (such as is used for cleaning plate), but powdered finely, and let it thoroughly dry on, then brush it off with a moderately stiff brush, stroking the feathers the right way, and it will be found that most, if not all, the stains will have disappeared, having been soaked up by the whitening with the moisture.
These few hints upon screens will be found useful in dealing with large birds, such as swans, herons, and other birds too large for hand screens, but which may be set up in the manner described, without a handle and affixed to a standard, like the old-fashioned banner screen ; but in dealing with such, it will probably be advisable to further strengthen the wings by passing a strong wire up each of the pinion joints, tying it securely to the elbow joints, and to change the millboard for a stout piece of wood.
We wish it, however, to be distinctly understood that the wanton destruction of birds for this purpose is strongly to be deprecated. There may always be found a large supply of dead birds to select from, without having recourse to unnecessary cruelty.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.-XLII.
THE production of beautiful objects of decoration by no
means necessarily involves great outlay and expensive
materials. A knowledge of how to utilise trifles which
would otherwise be
valueless, will often enable the housewife to
render her home attractive without expending
that money which may
be required for other purposes. We are about
to show how a species
of exquisitely graceful
embroidery may be produced, in which the
chief material employed
is nothing more than
the scales of one of our
Fish-scales, sewn upon silk or satin, may be arranged so as to form flowers, leaves, ornamental . borders, and also birds, to enrich many of those small articles of taste, which always conduce to throw an air of refinement over a home, and give the visitor a favourable opinion of the occupants. The effect also produced by the employment of a material generally so little regarded as the scales of fishes, is one which will much surprise and gratify those of our readers who have never seen it employed in this manner.
The scales of various fishes may be used, but those of the perch are much to be preferred, on account of their beautiful serrations. When taken from the fish they should first be thoroughly cleaned, and before they have become dry and. hard, two holes should be pierced through each with an instrument made of a stout darning- needle fixed in a wooden handle. These holes should be made near the roots or bottoms of the fish-scales, which will then be quite ready for use in the embroidery.
The best ground, and that usually chosen, is one of blue or pink silk, or, still better, satin of either of these colours. The pattern should first be drawn to the required size upon white paper, and its outline then carefully pricked through with a needle. Through the holes thus made powdered vermilion must be rubbed, which will thus transfer the pattern to the ground; but if the ground is of a dark colour whitening should be substituted and a small piece of wash-leather is best for applying the powdered colour.
When the paper is removed the pattern will be seen clearly indicated on the silk by small dots; but as these, being in dry powdered colour, are easily obliterated, it is necessary to make the more permanent, by going over the line with a camel-hair pencil and ordinary water-colour vermilion or Chinese white, according as the ground may require a dark or light outline. This method of tracing will also be found useful in many other kinds of embroidery; and here we may remark that the lines drawn should always be well within the dots, that they may be easily covered and hidden by the work. For a small flower a dot in the centre will be sufficient, and in large flowers no marks should be made with the camel hair pencil over which the scales will not, when sewn on, well project, and completely conceal them.
After the pattern has been traced in this manner on the satin, we will suppose that a rose or some similar flower has to be worked in the fish-scales. A row of these is neatly and care fully sewn through the two holes spoken of in the previous column round the circumference, to represent the outer circle of petals, and within these a second circle is stitched, overlapping the former, so as to conceal the threads by which they are attached; this is repeated till the centre of the flower is reached, which is formed in a large flower by a cluster of beads, and in a small one by a single bead. Yellow or gold beads look remarkably well as centres, as these most nearly resemble the pollen of the natural flower. Small leaves, or leaves which consist of a number of separate leaflets, may be well made in fish-scales, but larger ones may require to be worked in ordinary embroidery. Stems may also be worked in embroidery, very quickly and effectively too, by using chenille.
Trefoil and the maiden-hair fern are among the best leaf forms for representation in fish-scale embroidery. In combination with the fish-scales may be used small flowers, leaves, dots, and other ornaments, stamped out of thin sheet pearl, such as is used in inlaying papier-mache work, and of which a considerable number may be bought at a trifling expense at many fancy warehouses and shops. A combination of beads and fish-scales may also be used, and will produce a good effect.
The accompanying illustrations represent various modes in which this style of decoration may be employed to adorn articles of the toilette, banner screens, &c., which will readily suggest them selves to the clever designer.
Our illustration (Fig. i) is intended for the top of a pin-cushion, the ground being of a light-coloured satin The stems may be worked either in gold thread or maroon-coloured silk, and the petals of the flowers and the leaflets are each composed of one fish-scale. In a case [-281-] like the present, where single scales are used, it is of course impossible to hide the stitch by which they are fastened to the background, but this may be rendered decorative by carrying the thread across the scale from its root to its edge, so as to resemble the centre rib of the natural leaf. The flowers in this design are single, and have five petals with a bead in the centre.
The design given in Fig. 2 is one which may be applied to almost any article, and in combination with flowers, or an ornamental border if desired. The eye of the bird will be formed by a single bead, and the beak. legs, claws, and some of the feathers, should be worked in silk embroidery. If in this, or any other design for fish-scale embroidery, brilliant colour be desired, it may be obtained by using the scales of various kinds of fishes; or more conveniently still by tinting the scales, before they are sewn on, with the bright, transparent varnish-colours described in our preceding article on Fans, and how to make them (page 305, vol. ii.).
The banner-screen (Fig. 3) we have seen carried out in pink silk, the border, which is shown of a darker shade in our engraving, being green, and these colours are separated, and the whole work is bound with gold-coloured braid. The effect of the fish-scales upon the contrasting colours, pink and green, is very fine, and, indeed, it would be difficult to name a method of ornamenting screens and other articles of the character we have described, which produces a more beautiful effect. The brilliant tints of humming-birds, peacocks, parrots, and other gay and resplendent natural objects can be imitated with great fidelity and I success.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?XI.
MODELLING IN CLAY FOR AMATEURS
(continued from p. 317).
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?XII.
INDIAN JARS FOR POT POURRI.
LARGE jars suited to stand in the corners of rooms can, with a little trouble and not much cost, be made to appear as handsome ornaments. They should be a couple of feet high, of common red clay. They may be procured at many large grocers' ; but at the potteries, if any one takes the trouble to write, they can be made for a small cost. Any large china vendor can give his customers the address of the potteries. The jar must next be painted some pale colour?a light, delicate sea-green, or pea-green, or friar's grey is a good shade. It must be very pale and delicate. Next beg or buy a number of scraps of chintz. The Cretonne chintz now made, and covered with strange, apocryphal birds and imaginary monsters, is largely used for the purpose. The greater the variety and the brighter the colours the better. When you have a sufficient assortment ready, with strong gum arrange them according to taste all over the jars, being very sure that all the little bits, corners, and stalks are quite fixed down. An old cambric handkerchief is wanted to dab down the chintz to the Jar. When quite dry and perfectly fixed, have the jars varnished, or varnish them at home with gum copal dissolved in turpentine by gentle boiling. Take care not to let the turpentine ignite. Varnish can be bought, but it is difficult to procure it pure, and it is expensive ; but for those unused to handle combustible materials, it is safer to buy than to make it. The varnish is applied with a large brush, going all over the jar with bold strokes, and never touching any part a second time whilst wet. When dry, give another coat. Repeat the coats till the appearance pleases. It should not be too thick, or else it will crack. Whilst varnishing the jars, keep them in an empty room, free from dust. Put rose-leaves or pot pourri in the jars, and place ornamental saucers on the top. By obtaining vases of various forms from different sources, and selecting suitable cuttings, very tasteful and useful articles may be made in this way. But the household decorator should remember that he may publish either his or her good or bad taste to all observers according to the selection of patterns which he makes and the mode in which he uses them when cut out. No one who is in the habit of examining attentively the objects of art manufacture exposed in the windows of our "fashionable houses" can have failed to notice the mixed and incongruous character of our modern decorative designs. Variety is, undoubtedly, a most essential principle of decoration, but the variety we speak of does not arise out of the design itself, but results from the mixture of good designs with others decidedly bad, and is by no means desirable. And yet there is scarcely a warehouse window in our most fashionable London streets which does not exhibit, in juxtaposition with good or passable designs, others which indicate the utter absence of artistic taste. As guides for our readers in this question of taste we append two cuts. Fig. 1 is a Greek vase taken from the original in the British Museum, in which the ornaments are very symmetrical and beautiful, and their arrangement such as harmoniously belong to the shapes they decorate. Fig. 2 is an Indian water-goblet, displaying the same evidence of correct taste in ornamentation. Our readers could have no better guides.
HOUSEHOLD DECORATIVE ART.?XIII.
MODELLING IN CLAY FOR AMATEURS (Contd. from p. 346)
A Medallion.?We will now turn to another and quite
different branch of the art, and show how a medallion portrait may be modelled.
Medallions are sometime made which show the full or three-quarters face, and are
occasionally modelled in high relief (that is, are almost detached from the
background) ; but these, to be at all satisfactory, demand great skill and
knowledge. The most simple and generally pleasing form is that shown in our
engraving, in which the head is modelled in profile, in low relief, on a round
or oval background. This is a style of portrait which is by no means difficult,
and one which looks well, if carefully modelled and neatly framed, in any room ;
but some judgment is required in the hanging, for the modelling will not show properly in a wrong light. As a rule, a
profile-medallion should be hung with the back of the head turned towards the
window. The first requisite will be a level substance for the
background. A smooth piece of slate or plaster of Paris is sometimes used, and
in most respects answers well ; but as slate and plaster are different both in
colour and texture from the clay, they do not admit of the latter being blended
into them at the outline in a soft and artistic manner ; and, therefore, if a
highly finished work is desired, it is better to spread a slab of clay an inch
in thickness on board, and, having scraped it to a perfect plane, to use it as a
background. This should be prepared a day or two before it is wanted, that time
may be allowed for it to set. Then take the compasses and strike out a circle
which will be the circumference of the proposed medallion. The size is, of
course, a matter of taste, but from seven to ten inches diameter is recommended,
within which limits the length of the head should be from four to five inches.
Place the " sitter " (the person whose portrait is to be taken) in such a
position that his head may be on a level with that of the modeller, and that the
light may fall upon the side of the face to be copied, rather from the back. It
will be found most easy to work from the left side of the face, with the
features to the left hand of the spectator, as the face of the queen is shown on
the coins of the present reign ; and supposing this side to be chosen, the light
must fall upon the sitter from the modeller's right hand. The light on the
model should be as nearly as possible the same. While the work is going forward the
sitter should remain steadily in one position, and, when necessary, intervals
may be allowed for rest. The first step will be to take one of the sharp-pointed
tools, and scratch on the clay an outline of the head and so much of the neck
and bust as is intended to be shown. If the slate ground is used this must be
done with slate-pencil ; if plaster, with charcoal or a soft
[-354-] blacklead. The form as seen in the sitter must then be
built up in clay, in the same manner as when copying the mask, only that in this
case constant attention must be paid to the outline, since on that much of the
likeness will depend. The hair will probably rather puzzle the beginner. He may,
in the first place, get the general effect by using the deeply-serrated ends of
the tool shown to the left in the illustration to our first article. Afterwards
he must take the fine tool shown to the right, and with that divide into masses
as he sees them in his sitter, and then indent them, more especially towards the
ends, with curved lines ; by the abruptness or easy curvature of which he will
be able to show the character of the hair, whether crisp or flowing. This will
require some care and delicacy of touch. The relief, or greatest height above
the background, should not, in a head of this size, greatly exceed half an inch.
A Bust.?In this lesson we shall give the method of modelling a bust, which shall be one of the size of life ; for the greater includes the less, and if the student is able to do this he will find no difficulty in making one of smaller size. The necessary modelling-stool, on which the bust must be worked, has already been described, but a frame will also be required. Its bottom should be of stout board, equal in size with the top of the stool. Into the centre an upright of wood, two inches square and two feet high, should be strongly morticed, and this again should have a cross-arm four or five inches in length near its top. This is shown in Fig. 1, on page 353. Round this the clay must be built into a rude resemblance of a bust, so as to imbed the cross-arm in the centre of the head, and to allow the upright to pass down the middle of the neck. This should be done some three or four days before the first sitting, for a considerable quantity of clay?some half-hundredweight?will be used, and that length of time will be required to allow it to set. Before the work is begun, observe carefully what is the characteristic attitude of the sitter. Most people, when at ease, have some peculiar habit, more or less marked, of holding the head leaning it forward, throwing it slightly back, or towards the right shoulder or the left. If this trait can be given in the bust, the likeness will be greatly increased. Chantrey, whose busts are second to none, was so convinced of the importance of this, that he made a point of inviting his sitters to breakfast before he began work, that he might study them unobserved. If possible, it will be well to work in front of a tolerably lofty window, and to darken the lower half, that the light may fall somewhat from above on both sitter and bust. Place the bust and sitter side by side facing the light, taking care that the heads of both, as well as that of the modeller, are on the same level, and proceed to build up the forms as in previous instances. It is well to rough out the general proportions of the bust, and to get in the larger masses, before giving details. Give the breadth of the shoulders, the depth of the chest, the thickness of the neck, and the length and width of the head. Measurements may be taken, whenever required, with the callipers, which are merely a large pair of compasses with the points curved inwards. Then begin roughly to plan out the features. At first mere hollows will suffice to show the eyes; and digging in the thumb at the proper places, for the apertures of the ears and corners of the mouth, will indicate those features sufficiently; while a few random strokes with the tool will serve to express the hair. Everything at first should be treated in a large and broad manner; and even in this stage, if the work be done properly, some resemblance will begin to appear. Next make the outline of the profile generally correct, and afterwards put in the features, measuring their dimensions and proper positions with the compasses. For some time it will be necessary to concentrate the chief attention on the face ; when that becomes satisfactory, model the neck ; and it will then be desirable to devote a sitting to the hair alone. As the masses of hair constantly vary and are never the same two successive days, it is well that the whole arrangement of hair on the bust, should be modelled at once ; mere finish may be given afterwards. Another sitting may be given to the dress. Hitherto the shoulders have been left roughly blocked out to a rude resemblance of the human shape it is not well to clothe them till the head is far advanced, and the neck, so far as regards form, finished ; but they may now be covered, either with the usual dress of the sitter, or with a cloak, mantle, or other piece of conventional drapery thrown loosely round them; this should be copied carefully from the actual material. All that now remains to be done is to bring the whole to a good surface. The face and flesh generally may be treated as directed in the first lesson. The texture of the drapery will be best expressed by leaving upon it the marks of the teeth of the wire-tool, and of the piece of stocking. The hair should be left rough from the tool marks. Whilst modelling a bust, make it an object to put in as much form as possible while the sitter is present ; mere smoothing may be done afterwards ; remembering that (though in this case absolute stillness is not, as in the medallion, necessary) sitting is tiresome, and that there are limits to human patience. By means of the turn-table on the modelling-stool any side of the bust can be brought forward to be worked upon, without change of position on the part of the modeller ; the sitter must, however, be requested to turn as the bust is turned.
It is believed that in the foregoing remarks will be found all the information needful to the amateur, not only for working out the examples chosen, but also, with slight modifications, for enabling him to adapt the art to any other of the numerous purposes for which it is fitted. When some skill has once been acquired, objects on which to employ it, and appropriate methods by which to decorate them, will readily occur to anyone of intelligence and taste. We have now only to treat of one more process?that of Casting ; for the clay model, it must be remembered, is not permanent. It is true that such models as have no framework of wood or metal, and are wholly composed of clay, are sometimes preserved by burning, becoming what are known as terra-cottas ; but to burn them is a matter of much difficulty, and can only be done with costly appliances ; it is, therefore, beyond the reach of the amateur. Usually, if the clay becomes dry it shrinks, cracks and crumbles to pieces ; hence the ordinary method is to keep the model damp till it can be cast in plaster of Paris. How this may be done will be shown in a future article.
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