Success in the cutting of cameos will depend largely upon the artistic abilities of the carver. In skillful hands the results are exceedingly delicate and beautiful. The following is the method of working: -
Take the common helmet or the red helmet shell (those shells whose inner surface is pink or dark colored are most suitable), cut them into squares with a lapidary's mill, round off the corners, and shape them into an oval on a wet grindstone. Fix the enamel side on a short stick with jeweler's cement, grind off the brittle surface, sketch the subject with a black-lead pencil, cut the subject with engraver's tools, namely, a chisel-tool to clear the bare places; a lozenge-shape for forming the subject, and a scraper made of a three-angled file, ground off taper to the point, for cleaning the enamel surface round the subject, and also for forming the lineaments and other delicate parts. The color on the cheeks and hair is produced by leaving the layer of colored shell on those places. The stick must be grasped in the left hand, and held firmly against a steady bench, and with the tool resting in the hollow of the right hand, dig away the shell. A convenient length for the tools is three inches and a half; they must be kept in good condition to work with accuracy. The cameos are polished with a cedar stick, or a piece of cork dipped in oil of vitriol and putty-powder, and cleaned with soap and water. Mother-of-pearl is carved in the same way.