Though, as has been said, with any of the better designed tables it is usual to discard the cloth, yet this question cannot be quite ignored, for many of us still have tables that have to be covered up. From the point of view of wear, one of the best things to get is a cloth of mohair with a curled centre and a plain plush border, edged with a fringe. These have the advantage that they show no mark if anything is upset upon them. As regards appearance, however, a plain cloth looks nicer than anything, and as it is extremely inexpensive, it does not matter if the wear is not. quite so good. It costs about 8s. a yard, two yards wide, and a two-yard length is required for an average table. It may be simply edged with a cord or binding, which wears better and is less costly than a fringe.
A special cloth should always be provided to go under the damask dinner-cloth . It should be made of American cloth lined with felt, in order to make an adequate protection for a good table. The sets of table-mats are employed to an increasing extent, and women with any regard for their table will use little straw mats with these under hot plates.
The petals, which should be those of strong-scented flowers, should be spread out to dry upon a tray. All traces of dew or moisture must be eliminated
Most of us as children must have attempted the manufacture of scent, but it is to be feared that these early experiments did not meet with a great measure of success, seeing that the evil-smelling liquid resulting from the admixture of flowers and water could not by any stretch of imagination be called a perfume.
After all, however, most things are fairly simple if one only knows how to carry them out, and in its most elementary form the extraction of perfume need not present any real difficulty. To secure the sweet fragrance of our common garden blossoms is is a matter which a little care will render comparatively easy.
Cui eight or ten round pieces of cotton-wool wadding and soak them in a pie-dish in the finest Lucca oil
The perfume of flowers is such an elusive element that it is not an easy matter in every case to capture it. Blossoms which are fairly strong scented are the best, and four typical examples which invariably yield good results may be mentioned in roses, violets, lavender, and tuberoses. Of course, in all cases the flowers should be secured when they are at their best - that is, not immediately on opening, but a few hours later, when the bloom is well matured.
It is best to gather the flowers in the forenoon, before the heat of the day has faded the Petals in any way. In the case of large flowers like separate the petals, and in all cases spread the blossoms out on a tray for about fifteen minutes, so that all traces of dew or moisture may be dried away.
It is now necessary to purchase a quantity of the best Lucca oil. Care should be exercised to see that this is really the purest article, as the final result of the experiment depends a great deal on the fineness of the oil, and there is much inferior stuff sold.
The only other article which it is necessary to purchase is a piece of wadding, as it is sold at .a draper's stores in lengths. In every house it is an easy matter to find a wide-mouthed jar, such as a glass jam-pot.
With a sharp pair of scissors cut the wedding into rounded pieces which will fit into the jar. and then pour a quantity of the oil into ,a pie-dish, plating the cotton-wool in this as shown in the accompanying photograph Prepare eight or ten pieces in this and be quite certain that each one is thoroughly saturated with oil. Now take the jar, and make sure that it is absolutely clean ; this of course, can only be accomplished by repeated washings with hot soda and water, and then finally rinsing several times with cold water.
The next stage in the manufacture of the perfume may now be taken in hand, and at this point a quantity of salt should be available. First of all sprinkle a little salt in the bottom of the jar, and then scatter a layer of petals. Over the petals place a piece of oil-soaked wadding, then more salt, next another layer of petals, and so on until the jar is full. The pieces of wadding may be gently pressed from time to time, in order to be quite certain that the whole matter is packed together fairly closely. Steps must now be taken to exclude air altogether from the jar, and for this purpose a large cork answers well, but if this is not available parchment or grease-proof paper tied over the opening is all-sufficient.
Now stand the jar on a sunny shelf, or in any place where the rays of the sun will fall upon it. Remember that the more sunshine, the more surely will the petals of the flowers yield up their fragrance. At the end of about ten days or a fortnight the jar should be unsealed, and the oil drained away through a piece of fine muslin fastened across the mouth. Before actually doing this it is well to press the wadding firmly with a spoon, so as to drive all the oil out of it. It will be found that the expressed oil is highly perfumed according to the kind of flower which has been treated. A few drops of this essence upon a handkerchief will give a lasting fragrance which will quite astonish those who are used to shop scents.
Fill a clean wide-mouthed glass jar with alternate layers of petals and wadding soaked in oil. Salt must be placed at the bottom of the jar, then a layer of petals, followed by a piece of wadding and a layer of salt. This process is repeated until the jar is as full as possibl*
After the lar has stood for a fortnight in a sunny spot, it must be unsealed and the oil drained away through a piece of fine muslin fastened across its mouth
Of course, a great deal of the art of scent-making depends upon the proper blending of perfumes, and for this some of the aromatic herbs may be used with good effect. Thus a very small proportion of rosemary leaves mixed with violet blooms will give quite a new flavour, and one which will please those who like a pun-gent odour. Before placing the leaves of rosemary, or, indeed, of any plants in the jar they should be well bruised, so that the fragrant oil may be free to escape. Lavender and rose petals may be blended with good success in the same manner as violets and rosemary; only, in all these compositions it is most important to remember that the stronger smelling element should be used very sparingly, or the delicate fragrance of the petals will be altogethei swamped. It is often possible, by the addition of certain substances procur able at any chemist's shop to strengthen the perfume where only lightly scented flowers are to be obtained. Thus a few cloves added to a jar of rose petals will give a piquancy to the resulting perfume which will be very agreeable. Again chips of the well-known orris root, placed in with the violets in the jar, will give an enhanced effect to their scent, without in any way indicating that the fragrance is anything but quite natural violet scent.
Having thus instructed the amateur in the art of making simple perfumes at home, a few hints as to how to use the knowledge may not be found irrelevant.
It is often difficult for those whose means are limited, but whose generous instincts are strong, to find a gift for a friend that will be acceptable, novel, and yet that will not prove too heavy a drain upon their slender resources. In such a case, nothing could be better than a bottle of the future recipient's favourite perfume made by the giver. The cost will be trifling, though the pains bestowed may not be, and if a dainty cut-glass bottle or other suitable receptacle be procured, and the whole tied with a piece of white satin ribbon, bearing the name of the recipient, and an appropriate greeting, the result will be most successful. Should the sender be cunning with the brush, a spray of the flower represented by the scent might be painted upon the ribbon. Such a gift is equally appropriate to either sex.
Should it be so desired, a welcome addition to one's pocket-money might be found in disposing of such dainty wares amongst one's immediate friends and neighbours.
The leaves of any aromatic plants used must be well bruised, so as to allow their oil to escape, before they are placed in the jar