At the present time this art is receiving a great deal of attention among the American people, and especially the intelligent class, who are taking every opportunity of informing themselves in regard to the plan of moulding the various ornaments for use, the art of decorating them, the particular kinds of paints used, and the operation through which they pass in the burning in of the colors. It would be useless for me to attempt a book on art that would meet the wants of the people, and omit China Painting, which is gaining universal favor among the higher classes in eastern cities.
The art is applied directly to the ornamentation of the house, which makes it much sought after by ladies, who take pride in ornamenting their china and earthenware by the use of the La Croix Enamel Colors, which are arranged especially for this kind of painting.
After the paints are applied, the ware requires a certain amount of heat to fix the colors, and prevent it from being effaced by washing. Commence work by first Tracing the Drawing. For tracing, details should be left out as much as possible, or at any rate indicated soberly.
Direct Outline. If the pupil can draw well, she will outline her subject lightly on the object she wishes to paint, directly, without tracing, by means of a lithographic pencil.
Transferring. When you want to make a minute and complicated drawing, you are obliged to transfer, to avoid getting double lines on the china.
Before transferring, prepare your piece of ware as follows: Pour three drops of alcohol on the plaque or white plate intended for decoration.
It is very easy to trace on a perfectly flat surface. We shall mention several ways.
First Method. Tracing by Rubbing. After having traced from the engraving, or original model to be reproduced, the outline of your subject (figure, ornament, or landscape), with one of the lithographic pencils, you reverse the tracing over a sheet of white paper, and go over the outline again very carefully with the same pencil; this being done, prepare your piece of china with medium as we have just described. The vegetal tracing paper is then fixed, by means of little lumps of modeling wax, on the exact spot the subject is to occupy; and when that is done, you have only to rub all over the outline with an ivory knife, to make the lead that is on the vegetal tracing paper convey itself distinctly on to the previously prepared oiled enamel.
Second Method. Tracing with a Tracing Point. Take either black, blue, or carmine transferring paper, according to the tint of the painting that is to be done. The carmine gives all security for the success of the painting; it does not soil it. When the piece of paper has been rubbed with carmine from a soft crayon, after taking great care to remove what is superfluous it is cut to the size of the subject, or rather to that of the space you are to paint on.
To make sure of tracing on the exact spot, you must draw a horizontal line in the middle of your drawing, one also in the middle of the tracing paper, and one as well on the porcelain, with crosses and letters to each end as landmarks; two crosses marked A and B on the horizontal line of the enamel, and + + a b on the horizontal line of the tracing paper. The piece is prepared with oil of turpentine or spirits of wine. At the end of two or three minutes you place your drawing on the porcelain in accordance with the marks ++ab, taking care to place the middle lines one on the top of the other, a on A, and b on B; you fix the vegetal tracing paper by means of small bits of gummed paper, or else with little balls of modeling wax; the sheet of tracing paper being quite firm, you slide beneath it the piece of paper rubbed with carmine, blue, or black lead; you then take a porcupine quill with a fine point, and without leaning too hard you go over all the outline. You must be careful not to press your fingers on the drawing, for it often causes the deposit of powder to be of the same color as your transferring paper, which spoils the result and prevents careful painting. Before finishing all the work, lift up a corner of the overlying paper to see if the tracing does mark. It will be but an affair of habit to trace well, for it is by experiments frequently repeated that one comes to know exactly the amount of strength to be used so that the transferring paper may mark sufficiently. This paper lasts a long time, and improves as it grows old; you must prevent it from getting creased. For this, each time it has been used, it should be put away into a brown paper cover, wherein the tracing papers are also placed.
Third Method is by pricking the outline with small holes, and in making what is called a "Poncif."
In a bottle containing alcohol the brushes and the dabbers are cleaned after each day's work. To preserve these useful instruments it is indispensable never to leave any color in them; you must take care to wipe them well after this washing, and even to blow a little on them, to make the spirits of wine evaporate, for if any were to remain it would spoil the color and take away the painting already finished. With a few drops of spirits of wine, the most loaded palette can be instantaneously cleaned, and the driest painting can be effaced. For this reason I recommend that the little bottle of spirits of wine be kept always far away from you during your work; if a single drop were to fall on the painting, it would immediately smear and obliterate the work done.
Cleaning brushes with spirits of wine has to be done every day. From time to time a more thorough cleaning with soft soap is resorted to; the brushes are steeped in the soap, and are washed the next day only.