This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Working Drawings vary with the different trades and processes concerned in decorating on a large scale. The working drawing, or, as he calls it, "cutting drawing" of a worker in stained glass is quite different from that used by an embroiderer. That of a decorative painter, used to make his stencils by, is an elaborate outline, as large as the intended work. That of a repousse worker or a carver, on the other hand, may be a mere architect's sketch a few inches wide, and leaving all details to the workman. Such rough sketches may, however, be dismissed from consideration; what we wish to deal with here are the full-size drawings given by the designer to the worker to guide him. In many cases they are tracings from the cartoon or enlarged photograph of the design, and in some cases these are traced off once more on the canvas, panel, or other material to be decorated. In a few trades full-size outline drawings on stiff paper are required, and when the work is a mosaic composed of large piece which have to be cut to shape, two such drawings or tracings are required, one of them to be cut up into "cutting pieces." It will be well to consider the several kinds of work in order.
What an embroiderer means by a "working drawing," at least when dealing with a designer, is the cartoon itself. Embroiderers, as a rule, make their own tracings from the cartoon. They vary greatly as to the material on which they are taken, thin muslin, machine net, stiff brown paper, ordinary tracing paper and tissue paper being most used. When the tracing (which is the actual working drawing) is made on transparent tracing muslin it is intended to be entirely covered over by the embroidery or applique. The blank parts are cut away with the scissors after the design is tacked on to the stuff which is to be ornamented. A muslin tracing should, therefore, be used only when the pattern is large and effective and the material strong enough to support it. In conveying a large design to a flimsy material a tracing on net or tissue paper is preferred. The work done, the net is pulled out thread by thread, or the tissue paper picked away in little shreds. When the design is complicated and contains many delicate lines, vegetable tracing paper must be used, unless when, as in the case of a closely woven silk or linen stuff, the design can be transferred, by means of blue transfer paper and a bone or agate tracing point, to the stuff itself. Outline tracings or drawings are seldom used except for applique work. The different parts of the pattern are lettered with the names of the requisite colours; they are then cut apart; the various coloured silks or velvets or plushes which are to make up the work are cut into shape by them; they are next laid in place on the stuff which is to serve as backing, following the cartoon, which is hung up in sight, and the pieces of velvet or other fabrics are stitched on over them. At times several thicknesses of paper and even of pasteboard are thus used to stiffen and " raise " the design.
The decorative painter's working drawing usually takes the form of a pounce or stencil. The former is merely a brown paper outline drawing punctured all along the lines with a pin or, more quickly, with a " tracing wheel," which may be bought for .1 few pence at the embroidery shops. Held up against the light, the drawing is seen to be outlined in little holes through the paper. This perforated working drawing is fastened up against the wall or ceiling or panel to be operated upon. With a wad of cotton dipped in red or blue or black powdered crayon, the decorator goes all over it, pressing upon it and forcing the coloured powder through the holes, so that when the paper is removed the design will be found outlined in coloured dots upon the surface to be painted upon. Stencils are more difficult to make, but of more use when made than the perforated outline. The forms are cut out of a sheet of thick brown paper with a very sharp penknife. To obtain details completely isolated, and obviate the " bars " that must be left in a stencil to give strength to the pierced pattern, the Japanese have adopted a very clever device. They cut the stencil through two thicknesses of stiff paper, not caring whether certain parts are wholly detached. Then, laying a very fine open network between, they reunite the two layers for the complete stencil plate. A large, hcav\ piece of window glass is placed between the paper and the table when cutting, because the point of the knife might otherwise stick in the wood and make a false cut, which would destroy the usefulness of the stencil. When the cutting is finished the paper is varnished heavily on both sides to further stiffen it and to make it possible to clean it of any paint that may stick to the edges. Good decorative painters now use stencils very freely, painting details free-hand and blending tints at will within the boundaries furnished by them. A second set of stencils is often used on a wall or frieze already bearing a pattern put on by means of another set. Thus a pattern of leaves and branches may be crossed by another one of swallows on the wing, and all the details in both may be painted as freely as they would be if it were in an easel picture. R. Jervis. (To be concluded.)