This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
A Great mistake is made in the treatment of wall surfaces in our ordinary houses, without due reference to picture hanging. A wall-paper, be it ever so rich or novel, becomes in itself wearisome and exasperating. Pictures have a dual object in their use. They serve to relieve the monotony of the wall covering, to break up the surfaces, and they also are like so many additional windows looking into the worlds of fancy - mirrors of scenes of beauty, of personalities endeared to or revered by us. When some of the money and time expended on enriched wall-papers and elaborate gilt framing is devoted to a wiser selection of pictures, and more study and experiment in the disposition of them upon the wall surfaces, it will be a better day for artistic results and for the artists themselves. The incongruity of rich paper designs and large patterns, relieved only by weak water-colour drawings or chromo-lithographs in heavily gilt or bronzed frames, is apparent. Pictures also, to be seen to advantage, must have a background of their own, and if they possess intrinsic value, are entitled to it.
Is there not here a useful field for the exercise of the artistic sense, open to that member of a family so endowed? If instead of giving a wholesale order to the painter and decorator, to be executed in the shortest possible space of time, the privilege of experiment and final selection of decorative treatment were delegated to that member, how much more individual and interesting the result would prove ! Even a single room thus conceded for the exercise of a gifted member of the family would exert a wholesome stimulus to the practical use of his or her gift.
Given one such room, leave wall-paper out of the scheme, until experiment has proved whether the results will be pleasing or the reverse. Try the use of burlap, size and stencil, or work in distemper. Panel out the chimney-breast above the mantel, leaving a centre larger space for a picture, either to be hung or painted on the wall, or for a mirror, or some bas-relief in plaster of Paris.
A Draughtsman's Table.
Preliminary studies should be made on paper, both in elevation of each wall or in perspective and tinted. Having gone so far, if the actual mechanical labour is too much, and the skill required beyond you, then call in the painter and decorator, reserving such features as you would like to execut.
There is a personal note struck in the decoration of the simple dining-room, illustrated on the opposite page, which gives to it a charm entirely its own. The wainscot is of pine, oil rubbed, which treatment brings it to a warm yellow of very good tone. The wall surface above is painted in distemper of a light buff colour, with two horizontal bands very slightly darker in tone, stencilled in gold with a simple pattern. The vines of ampelopsis, glorious in autumn tints, trailing along the frieze, are painted by the talented daughter of the house, and are the chief decorative feature of the room. Part of the ceiling next the wall is protected with pine wood, the same as in the wainscot. The rest is divided into square panels by small mouldings. In these panels the two prevailing tints of the frieze are made to alternate, and a further variety is given by stencilling a rosette in the darker squares and in a darker shade of buff on the light squares. The line of little cupboards extending around the room at the top of the wainscot is an unique feature. Behind their glass doors are disposed a superb collection of old English china, heirlooms which have long been the pride of the family. The large pots for flowers are of blue and white Delft, and there are rare old Dutch tiles disposedd around the fireplace.
A Draughtsman's Side Table.
It is common in schools to set pupils to make finished drawings of relief ornamentation. Such drawings are of no use in the workshop or to the amateur designer. If the latter is dealing with a really competent workman, a rough sketch will be-all that will be needed. If he is not sure of his man, or if he proposes to carry out the design himself, the sketch should be supplemented by one modelled in clay or wax, and moulded in plaster, from which exact measurements can be taken.
Be careful in enlarging or reducing a design to preserve the comparative proportions. Consider the ratio of the measurements. If you double the length and width of a design, you have four times its surface; if you treble the length and width, you have nine times its surface. Of course, a corresponding reduction of length and width will give the square root of the surface.
A Dining Room, in which the Ornamental Work has been done by Members of the Family. (See the opposite page.)