This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Simple Study of Chestnut Foliage, Decoratively Treated.
Stained Wood Clock-case. By W. & A. Daniell.
O Louring wood to imitate inlays can be traced back at least 2,000 years - witness the decoration of a chair in this manner in the fourth Egyptian Room of the British Museum. It is probably owing to the fact that marquetry stainers have mostly endeavoured to copy genuine marquetry that it has been considered hardly worthy of a place among artistic crafts. A recent writer on staining, for instance, after giving some account of true marquetry, says: "We will now proceed to the consideration of how, by means of stains, we may reproduce in an artistic maimer the effects of some of the best inlays of former days." It is not surprising, therefore, that persons of taste have looked with disdain on a branch of work which, apparently, pretends to be something it is not. It is quite possible, however, and legitimate, to treat wood decoratively by means of stains, with no other object than to beautify it. In this way alone is the practice worthy of our consideration.
There is a large choice of woods which 'are suitable for the purpose. Among the lighter kinds we have pine, American bass, holly, sycamore, chestnut, and maple, but it is important that the wood be well seasoned, as, owing to the necessity of damping it, it is liable to warp. There are so many sorts of stains in the market that it is a little difficult to know which to choose. When large quantities are required, one may prepare them oneself, but no little technical knowledge and a good deal of experimenting are called for in order to do this satisfactorily. If only small quantities are required, it is more satisfactory to buy the Stevens water-stains, the "Marquo" stains, or those made In the Working Ladies' Guild, or those by Mrs. Alma Scott. They are all good in their way. The usual colours are rosewood, walnut, mahogany, oak, satinwood, yellow, scarlet, blue, green, and ebony.
The wood must first be thoroughly rubbed down with glass-paper, No. 1 1/2, wrapped round a block of wood. The rubbing should be in the direction of the grain. The wood should then be clamped all over to make the grain rise, and again be rubbed smooth, this time with No. o glass-paper. The design should now be traced on the wood, stamp edging being used to secure it in position.
Everything is now ready for the staining. If the wood is very soft and absorbent, it should be brushed over with a preparing solution, which also will prevent the colours running. The edges -should also be treated with the solution, as they greedily absorb the stain. The background should next be painted in. The effect of two or three coats carefully laid on will be far better than that of one dark wash, consequently the stain must be diluted with water to a much lighter shade than is ultimately required. The quantity of stain that will be needed should be mixed in a saucer before the work is begun, for it will be found difficult to match the shade afterwards. It is well to have a few odd pieces of wood at hand for testing the stain before applying it to the object to be decorated. Use a large, soft brush, and work from left to right in the same way as in laying a wash in water-colour, keeping the brush somewhat less moist when painting around the outlines. The first coat must be thoroughly dry before the next one is applied, and if the grain again swells and roughens the surface, it must be lightly rubbed down with the finest glass-paper. It is a good plan to save old pieces for this purpose, as the new are too rough even when quite fine.
Decorative Wood-staining. By W. & A. Daniell.
The selection of the colour for the background must be carefully considered. Should the wood be well marked, it is better to use a lighter stain, unless the markings would interfere with the scheme of the design. It is well to bear in mind that the final polishing or oiling will darken the colours. Where the wood is cut across the end of the grain, the stain will be soaked up more readily and will be darker in colour; therefore a paler shade of stain should be used.
We now come to the colouring of the design, and here the worker's taste must be the chief guide. Bright tints must be avoided; blues, yellows, and reds should be used sparingly, and be diluted until the stain be pale and soft in colour. If the work is to be afterwards polished, a good yellow may be obtained by leaving the part un-coloured, for the polish itself will impart to it a beautiful, mellow tone. When the design is based on plant form the natural gradations of colour should be followed. Proceed in the same way as in water-colour painting, graduating with water the strength of the colours; but care must be taken not to soak the wood too freely, otherwise the surface will roughen.
For the veining of the leaves, other markings and outlines, use a fine sable brush. Some workers prefer to use a pen for this, but much greater freedom is obtained with a brush. Moreover, should the wood be very soft, the point of the pen will be apt to pierce and cause a blot of colour. If a mistake is made the brush should be filled with clean water, and the surface damped and wiped off with a clean rag, but great care must be used or the surface will become blotchy. Perhaps the safest way to correct a mistake is to rub the part with the finest glass-paper, or, better still, with old pieces. Wait until the stain is perfectly dry and rub very lightly, for should this portion of the surface be at all lowered, the inequalities will show clearly when the work is polished.