AN idea of turning the standard accomplishments of the day into a remunerative, as well as an agreeable occupation for one's leisure hours, has in the past few years so asserted itself in the refined female world, that the study of wood painting, and etching with the pen, as well as the production of sprinkle work, are now all much sought after.
There is no other handiwork that offers such enjoyment, to those possessed of a sense of the beautiful, as the different methods of wood decoration. While the study and practice requisite in difficult etching, and the decorative embellishment of useful articles with stylish ornamentation, makes one an acknowledged artist, so through the medium of sprinkle work, with the ever new and beautiful effects to be produced by the aid of pressed leaves and flowers, or by the simple method of painting bouquets and landscapes upon wood, there is endless scope for the taste of the amateur.
Sprinkle work upon wood, the subject of this article, is easily acquired. In the manipulation of the materials required, good taste is all that is necessary, although a knowledge of drawing is of great advantage. Besides the possession of* the necessary utensils for the production of sprinkle work, one should not fail to secure a rich assortment of leaves, grasses and flowers, adapted to the purpose. A walk in the country in the early spring or autumn will provide one with a goodly quantity of lovely material; or suitable specimens can be procured from some neighboring florist. There are so many fancy articles prepared for this work, upwards of a thousand, that it is well to have a great variety of leaves, grasses and other designs, such as figures, initials, monograms, mottoes, arabesques, butterflies, etc., cut from paper, so that one can produce from the simplest to the most elaborate arrangement.
The pressing and drying of leaves is so well known that we need not refer to it here, but it is well to select leaves of perfect form, as the correcting of deficiencies sometimes destroys the entire work. The leaves best adapted for this work are: Ivy, oak, clover, geranium, rose, myrtle, gentian, maple, edelweiss and ferns, avoiding the thick, fleshy foliage plants.
It is advisable for beginners to arrange their designs upon a piece of wood or paper beforehand, to judge of the effect. Bouquets are appropriate for the smaller articles to be decorated, wreaths for larger or round pieces. For those more advanced, Konewka's silhouettes are recommended. With these and the addition of a little painting, highly artistic effects can be produced.
Utensils. The necessary utensils can be procured in complete outfits, neatly arranged in cases of different sizes. The contents are as follow : One wire sieve, with handle, one coarse painting brush, one fine painting brush, three hundred pins, one small pair of pincers, several china saucers, one tube prepared Vandyke brown, one drawing pen, one Herbarium with artificial leaves and space for the preservation of natural leaves and flowers, one envelope containing initials, six models of leaves.
In working with the sieve and brush, an irregular distribution of color is made almost impossible. The principal colors used in sprinkle work are the following: Prepared sepia, Vandyke brown, black, and dark green. A mixture of black and brown will produce quite a number of shades. The colors used are water colors, specially prepared, and come either in tubes in a moist state, or in cakes which require moistening. Great care should be taken not to get the color too thick.
Process of Sprinkling on Wood. After the materials, leaves, etc., requisite for the work have been selected, take the article to be decorated and score it gently with a small quantity of powdered pumice stone, applied with a flannel pad, this frees it from any roughness or dust that may have come upon it through handling or transportation. Next take a clean cloth, and wipe all the powder off. Now prepare the color to be used in a small porcelain saucer, above all, being careful it is sufficiently diluted to flow freely, not muddy, about the size of a pea taken from the tube is sufficient quantity of color to a teaspoonful of water. The dried leaves or designs are then fastened to the wooden article, by means of pins; this proceeding must be carefully carried out, the points, sides and stems must be well secured, and lie perfectly flat upon the object. In wreaths, the stems should be so arranged that they come together in the center, in order to accomplish a pretty ensemble. Now take the sieve in one hand and the brush in the other, dip the brush lightly into the diluted color, that it may not be too heavily charged with the color, press it gently upon a piece of paper, and let it glide back and forth over the sieve, holding the latter in a horizontal position above the object. In this manner a fine shower is produced, which is kept up until the proper shade is acquired. Blots, and where the color has run together, should be removed immediately with blotting paper.
The final arrangement of the wreath should be such that the leaves and grasses which extend out furthest, and are to have the darkest shade, should be fastened last, over the others, so that they can be first and more easily removed with the pincers. After the top layer of leaves, etc., has been removed, where spaces are now perfectly white, the design should be examined, whether any of the others have been displaced, proceed with the sprinkle work as before, and remove from time to time, the leaves in such a manner that those which are to be left entirely white, are left to be removed last of all; the others are removed first, according to the shade required. The spaces of those removed last are also spattered, but very lightly, so that they may not be too glaring.