This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
(For Working Details, see Supplement B.|
For such a rather heavy-framed object as a firescreen special care must be taken to get perfectly seasoned, kiln-dried wood. The width of the screen must be regulated by the size of the fire-place opening, it being at least a foot wider than the latter, so as to allow the carved feet to project towards the fire without risk of scorching. Such a frame must be correctly planned, sawed out, and well fitted - not glued - before carving; then it can be taken apart, carved and put together afterwards and glued. Only a practical cabinet-maker should undertake this part of the work, and, before it is put into his hands, the design should be very carefully drawn out. He will place it on the wood and jig out the background according to the lines given him, and these have to be very accurate, as it is extremely awkward - generally impossible - to correct a bad line made by the jig-saw. The wood for the frame should be seven-eighths of an inch, or one inch thick, and the interlaced effect should be carried out on both sides. But the parts which need most attention and which should be most carefully worked up, are the front and sides.
In beginning to carve, first mark out carefully the parts which go over and those which pass under. Take a parting tool and cut or bevel the parts that pass under, down towards those that pass over. Let this be a quarter of an inch sunk, to give the appearance of passing under, and be careful to connect the curves on the opposite side, so that they will appear to come out and continue after passing under. Try to get finely flowing lines. Make the interlaced parts slightly rounded; then shape the heads of the dragons, making the eyes prominent, also the upper and lower jaws toward the points. Here the carver must use his own judgment, remembering that bold sweeps, well undercut, will make the work look strong. Avoid short, small strokes as much as possible. Do not be afraid to take long ones. If a piece should chip off or crack, do not be alarmed, for there is such a thing as glue, and where a thing has been glued it is often stronger than it was before.
If you want the dragons' heads, tails, and bodies higher in relief, a piece of wood can be glued on and modelled down to the shape desired.
The fire-screen being a heavy piece of work, a mallet will frequently be required, but be careful not to use it to vigorously, for the background, being jigged out, is not so strong as a solid board. The tools used will naturally be a little larger than those we used on our previous work in this style. (See fust number of Arts & Crafts.) Choose such as fit the curves and are suitable for the gauging that has to be clone. The tools should always be put in a row before you, the points towards you; the mallet also where the hand can reach it easily. (See Fig. I. page 128.)
View in perspective of the Carved Fire-screen, showing the Brackets which fit into the opening of the Fireplace.
As is shown in the design, it is proposed to use glass, it may be either heavy plate or opal, with highly coloured "bull's-eyes," for the frame - so that the cheerful glow of the fire as well as its tempered warmth, may be fully enjoyed.
Karl von Rydingsvard.
Design for Carved Frieze or Border.