The material of this box may be very stiff cardboard; but a better way is to get a tinman to cut for you six strips of tin, of the dimensions given below, punched with rows of holes an inch and a half apart. If cardboard is used, you can make the holes yourself, measuring them with a rule. The strips are to be cut as follows : Two strips one foot long and five inches wide, two strips one foot long and three inches wide, and two strips five inches long by three inches wide. These make respectively the top and bottom, the sides and the ends, of the box. Each piece is to be lined with cotton-wadding scented with sachet-powder, over which is placed the silk or satin lining you have selected. This soft lining is then quilted down by putting the needle through each of the holes in turn, taking-long stitches on the wrong side, and fine ones on the right side. Tiny buttons sewed in each depression make a pretty finish. Put the box together, and cover the outside with satin, cloth, or plush, sewing a small silk cord around the edges to finish them neatly. Square handkerchief-boxes may be made in the same way.
Although this has not so attractive a sound, much pleasure may be given and received by the little folks who can do a bit of plain work. In many cases no gift could be so useful as an apron, or nightgown, or petticoat neatly made, with loving thoughts stitcned into the long seams and difficult gathers. And, as the knowledge ought to be gained, let me assure you that the pleasure and excitement of practising on Christmas-gifts will help very much to make this necessary branch of learning interesting.
Suppose you have gathered, from pure love of their beauty, all the bright sprays, and tiny ferns blanched white in the shade, that you met with in your autumn rambles: you will be glad to know in what way they may be preserved, and used to delight other people as well as yourself. Take an old wooden box, or shabby table, or lacquer-tray, or earthen bowl or pitcher, and, whichever you select, paint in black, or any color which will have a good effect, with oil-paint. When dry, rub it smooth with sand-paper, and repeat the process three times. Glue upon it your leaves and ferns, arranging them gracefully, as they are sure to be in nature; and, when the glue has dried, apply a coat of isinglass, dissolved in water, to the whole surface. Three coats of copal-varnish, each added after the former has had time to dry, finishes the work, and your old box or tray will have been transformed.
Even more beautiful and delicate effects may be produced in fern-work. The pressed ferns should be perfect and lovely in themselves, and of all shades, - green, deep-brown, yellow, and white. Suppose you have a small round table whose top is to be decorated. It is first to be painted black, or very dark brown, rubbed with pumice-stone when dry, and then varnished. While the varnish is still wet, the ferns are to be arranged upon it according to a carefully planned pattern. This work requires great care and deftness. The ferns, once laid on the varnish, must not be altered, or lifted by the hand ; but the disarranged or projecting points may be pushed into place with a long pin. When the design is arranged, varnish again immediately, with light touches. Between these two coats of varnish, the delicate ferns remain nearly indestructible, with almost the effect of a Florentine mosaic. Another coat of varnish must be added when the second is wholly dry. Earthen tiles and plaques may be treated in the same way, and the result will be better than much amateur china painting.
Any girl who has a father or brother to help may make this useful piece of furniture. A barrel is sawed into the shape shown in the diagram of pill-box chair on p. 281, which is that of a low chair with a rounded back; and four blocks are nailed inside to support a round of wood, which forms the seat, and which, like the back and sides of the chair, must be stuffed, cushioned, and covered with chintz or cretonne. A deep ruffle of the same covers the barrel below the seat. The hollow space inside, below the seat, may be utilized by nailing all around the sides a shoe-bag with many pockets; and the chair may then receive the name of a shoe-chair.
Wax or paraffine candles are used for this purpose. They may be painted in water-color or oil, or with the powder used for coloring wax flowers. Where this powder or water-color paints are used, a little ox-gall is needed to give the paint consistency. Bands of solid color, conventional patterns, or sprays of flowers twining around the candle, may be chosen for decoration. Gilding adds very much to the effect, and is bought, under the name of"gold paint,"at any artist's-mate-rial shop, for fifty cents a bottle.
Let me tell you of a merry way to serve up many of the little dainties described in this chapter. Put them, each wrapped in soft paper, all together in an enormous tin dish-pan, and cover the top with a crust of yellow cartridge-paper, ornamented with little twirls pinned in their places.
The pie must be cut beforehand into enough pieces to go around; but the carver may go through the motions of cutting it, and then spoon out the contents upon the plates provided. Small articles which will not be injured by heat can be wrapped in white paper, and baked in genuine little cakes, when they furnish a delightful surprise to those who eat.
This is easily made, and very pretty when finished.
The stick is a long penholder, either plain or fancy, one end of which is dipped into melted sealing-wax to form a knob, and round which the ends of cloth are tightly sewed. The wiper is formed of a number of narrow strips of cloth, cut twice the length required, and doubled in half. The cloth may be all black, or mixed with other colors, according to taste. The cloth ends should be rather short, and very full, so as to resemble the brooms used for yards.
Fig. 89. - Broom Penwiper.
A band of red cloth, or thin leather, worked with dots in gold-colored silk, to imitate brass-headed nails, is fastened round the cloth, and keeps it in shape.
The breakfast-table is much improved by these pretty and useful additions. The crimson plush for the outside is cut the shape and size needed for the style of teapot for which the cosey is intended. They are generally made higher and narrower than formerly. A bouquet of good artificial flowers may be fastened on one side, the points of the leaves being tacked invisibly to the plush to keep them in place.
On the opposite side, a monogram or crest, in fine variegated cord or gold-thread, is worked. The lining should be of silk, the same shade as the plush, and well wadded and quilted. A very unique and beautiful edge is formed of pheasant's feathers tacked on a narrow ribbon the color of the plush.
It is better to choose a tint for the cosey that will harmonize with the breakfast-service. The feathers would suit almost any color. If this trimming is found to be too troublesome, a good cord can be substituted. The top of the cosey is ornamented with a small fancy gilt or ivory ring, by which it can be lifted off without interfering with the feather band.
The egg-cosey is made of the colored plush, and sufficiently large to cover a small hot-water dish, to hold four or more eggs in their cups. One side of this cosey may have a bird's nest with eggs in it, or a hen and chickens in embroidery. The other side has the crest or monogram. A cover or mat for the hot-water dish is made of a piece of green baize, covered with an imitation of moss, made of knitted wools. This cosey is finished in the same manner as the teapot-cosey.
A small holder is almost indispensable, as the handle of the teapot becomes exceedingly hot when covered up by a good cosey.
In order that all should correspond, this, too, may be made of plush, with a quilted satin lining interlined with folds of flannel. The crest or monogram will suit for the centre, and the edges should be covered with a variegated cord.
These three articles are very suitable for a wedding-present.