This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The stains may be freely mixed to obtain the desired tone, but if it should be necessary to use a colour which cannot be got from the stains at our disposal, it can be made from ordinary tube water-colours. Squeeze a portion of the colour into a saucer and dilute with water until the shade required is arrived at. The mixture may then be poured into a bottle and kept until needed, but it should be thoroughly shaken before being used.
Very good effects in marquetry staining may be obtained with geometrical designs, using ebony only and leaving the remaining portions unstained. Some recipes will be given later for making water stains, and we shall deal with the various methods of finishing or polishing. A. F. P.
The New Style of Mosaic,
The art of using mosaics, or laying coloured pieces of glass, pottery, or stone into a bed of cement, arranged in patterns, has been practised for centuries; and we are chiefly familiar with it on a very large scale as ceiling, wall, and pavement decoration, and on a very small scale as used by the modern Italians for trinket-boxes, brooches, and similar articles.
But, as the observant visitor to some of the more recent exhibitions of arts and crafts may have noticed, a beautiful and somewhat new style of mosaic is coming into vogue, the scale of the work being somewhere between the two kinds to which reference has just been made. The materials used in overlaying are so thin that they are almost like veneers. They consist of coloured glasses, mother-of-pearl, and fragments of charmingly iridescent shells of rich peacock-blue found in certain places along the Mediterranean shores. The last-named harmonise admirably with the mother-of-pearl. Both materials are applied with great success to the embellishment of a variety of such useful objects as mirror-frames, book-stands, and salvers; and their application is, obviously, suitable for the decoration of fireplaces, overmantels, cupboards, and many articles of furniture.
The processes of preparation and cementing are rather troublesome, and require the utmost care throughout. As in other artistic crafts, it is of great advantage to the amateur to have had some training in drawing. An eye for colour is absolutely necessary, for, on the harmonious colour arrangement - after the suitability of the design chosen - the success of the work must chiefly depend.
One may use the shell mosaic alone, but in conjunction with mother-of-pearl the effect is considerably enhanced. It must be remembered that in all mosaic work the treatment is essentially flat; that is, that one has to consider only the outline and massing of the design with a view to its best effect in colour. Therefore simple flowing lines and broad effects must be aimed at, and natural objects have to be very much conventionalised to suit the limitations of the material.
Having chosen - or, preferably, made for one's-self - a suitable design, the first step is to trace it, and transfer it on to a thin white paper - the kind known as "lining paper" by house decorators does admirably. Take a thick sheet of ordinary-glass to work upon as a drawing-board, the size large enough to allow of a margin of about two inches all round the design. The glass must be now painted all along the margin with paste, and a piece of newspaper cut to the same size. Dip the latter in water, lay it carefully on the glass and press it down with a cloth until it is flat. On this paste the design and press it flat; then cover it with blotting-paper and a weight, and leave it to dry thoroughly in front of a fire for at least 24 hours. The glass should then look like a drawing-board with water-colour paper strained over it.
Repeat Border suitable for Marquetry, Wood-staining, or Needlework.
Having selected the various coloured mosaics and mother-of-pearl required, we now proceed to break and cut them into convenient and well-shaped pieces. Herein lies one of the chief difficulties of the work, as badly-shaped or ill-joined pieces will spoil the effect of the best design, and, as the mosaic is very brittle, one must waste a good deal before getting a piece at once suitable in shape, size, and colour. The blue shells cost a shilling each, and only a small proportion of each shell is flat enough for our purpose. An old pair of scissors will be found useful for the cutting and shaping, but it is best to do as much as possible by breaking the mosaic without their aid. The mother-of-pearl is simpler to manage, but it calls for a strong grip and precise handling. It should be cut with a fret-saw. Some practice is required to do this accurately, as the pearl is apt to split if cut with the grain, and many a beautiful piece is thus wasted. However, as in most things, patience and perseverance will overcome all difficulties.
Each piece of mosaic and pearl must be gummed in place on the design. When this is covered, cut .a piece of lining-paper of the same size, and paste it firmly over the face of the mosaic, and leave it to dry until the next day.
Now, with a sharp penknife, cut round outside the design and lift it out. We find it covered with newspaper at the back and with plain paper in front. Lay it face downwards on the table, and damp evenly all over the back. In a few minutes we are able to peel the two thicknesses of paper off the back, leaving the mosaic-back exposed. This must be left till quite dry, when it will be ready to cement. The cements for this kind of work are of two kinds. You may either use Parian cement, or white lead and gold-size mixed to the consistency of very thick cream. Some persons may object to the use of white lead, but with the observance of ordinary precautions, there is no reason why it should be dangerous.
Now for the backing. This may be either of slate or glass; the latter is the more convenient for small work. Lay the mosaic face downwards on the table, and have the cement (freshly mixed) at hand. Then, having previously got from a glass-cutter a piece of rolled plate-glass the exact size of the design, lay this down ribbed side upwards, and quickly put on an even layer of cement, with a palette-knife. Take up the glass and reverse it neatly, laying it down again on the back of the mosaic. Take off the superfluous cement, with a palette-knife, as it oozes out, and see that the glass rests absolutely true with the edge of the design, as the cement will begin to harden quickly where exposed to the air. The panel must now be left to dry for two or three days, after which the paper on the front can be damped and peeled off, when, at last the face of the work will be exposed to view. If the work has been done properly the cement will have filled up all the interstices between the pieces, and the whole surface will be even. Polish it very gently with a soft cloth - for the cement is still soft underneath - when it should shine brilliantly, and well repay the worker for all the labour expended on it. This labour, however, is not yet at an end. The panel must now be dried gently in front of a fire for ten days or a fortnight, and only practical experience will teach us when it is finished. If put in an oven or exposed to too great heat, the pieces will blister and come apart.
The process may sound somewhat lengthy; but it is impossible to hurry it, as the only way to ensure success is to give the closest attention to details. K. A. van Someren.
The Silvering of Metals is done nowadays almost altogether by the aid of the galvanic battery. It is well, however, to have some idea of the more ancient methods. The oldest and best was that of silvering by lire, analogous to fire gilding. A leaf of silver was placed on the copper or other metal to be silvered, and the two heated together to a temperature of one hundred and fifty degrees centigrade, then subjected to strong pressure or to continued rubbing with a burnisher until adherence was complete. Silvering by mercury consisted in rubbing the piece with an amalgam of silver and mercury, then causing the latter to evaporate by the application of heat, leaving the silver attached to the object. It is a dangerous process on account of the production of fumes of mercury. Plating by means of the rolling mill, and wire silvering, require expensive machinery, and need not be- considered by amateurs. Finally, a thin plate of silver may be fixed on any other metal by means of a proper solder. This last method may be used with good effect in decorating small objects of brass or copper with incrustations or inlays, the base being prepared by a hatching with a graver or chisel, the better to hold the solder.
A very ancient trick of French and German metal workers should be known to collectors of old silver, and may be useful to modern workers in that metal. It consisted in simply subjecting the metal to the smoke of a wood fire for a considerable period, which produced a fine yellow patina, easily mistaken for gilding, especially in imitations, pieces only partially gilt, or parcel-gilt, as the term is. Age, of course, adds to the chances that this sort of fraud may pass without discovery, unless one is on his guard; but there is no reason why the process should not be honestly used at the present day. Fumes of sulphur are used without scruple by manufacturers for the much less proper, because non-artistic purpose of imitating the appearance of old silver.
A carefully pointed lithographic crayon is the most convenient kind of pencil for sketching the design on the enamelled surface of a metal plaque. As, owing to its greasy nature, it is rather disagreeable to the touch, it is best to use it in a metal port-crayon.
A Few words of description may be interesting in regard to the examples, shown herewith, of some filigree jewellery, by Mr. F. L. Partridge, of Barnstaple, which he sent to the recent Clarion Handicraft Exhibition. The necklace is gold, set with moonstones enriched with niello, the flowers being in enamel. The lace pin is gold, with stars of sapphires, as
Filigree Jewellery has also the gold pendant with pearl drop, shown to the right. The brooch is gold, set with garnets "en cabochon."
By F. L. Partridge