Intarsia and Marquetry Part 5

Veneers are both saw and knife cut; the saw wastes about as much as the thickness cut in sawdust. They range from 8 to 15 to the inch. The French saw-cut their veneers thinner than the English do.

The woods in every-day use at the present day are white holly, box, pear (in various shades), and holly (dyed all colours); while the veneer merchants sometimes supply also planetree, sycamore, chestnut, Brazilwood, yellow fustic, barwood, tulipwood, kingwood, East and West India satinwood, rosewood, ebony, ash, harewood, Indian purplewood, hornbeam, and snakewood. Bird's-eye maple and partridgewood may also be bought.

Dye woods used for marquetry--Braziletto, cam wood, logwood, Nicaragua, red sanders, sapan, ebony, fustic (a species of mulberry), Zante (a species of sumach). "Ebony is the black pear tree of Madagascar, at least they make cider of its fruit." So says M. Luchet in an interesting excursus on furniture manufacture in his book on the Paris Exhibition of 1867, in which he gives further details of ancient manufacture and its modern imitation. "I know a factory," he says, "where the tortoiseshell is false, the mother-of-pearl false, the ivory holly wood; the brass is the only real thing, because science applied to industry has not yet found out how to imitate it. When Boulle employed wood in his work it was ebony--they have abandoned that for blackened pear wood, under the pretext that ebony is a hard, close wood which twists, splits, and cracks, takes glue badly, and refuses varnish. So that they call a man who never uses ebony 'ebeniste.' They did not trouble about these things in the time of Louis XIV. They never varnished their furniture, so it did not matter that ebony would not take varnish.... There are two sorts of tortoiseshell, that of the Antilles, often bad and scaly, but good enough for common work, because it is thin and equal in thickness, and a little carmine vermilion gives it a not unpleasant red tint. The Indian tortoiseshell is thick and opaque and unequal, demanding preparation and welding. It can only be used for expensive work, and takes easily a black preparation which makes it magnificently austere." One ought to mention here that good shell was often treated with carmine vermilion or with gold, and that without a colour background it loses half its beauty and value.

"In modern times six or eight couples of shell and metal are sawn together, whereas two was the number in the fine period. This saves money. A new Boulle bed, secretary, or chest of drawers should cost 15 to 20,000 francs. You may easily get one for 2000 made of rubbish. An honest chest of drawers with tolerable mountings is worth 1500 francs.

In gelatine tortoiseshell and brass or zinc of the future 100 is the price.... The mode still practised in Paris of making a good 'placage'

in preparation for marquetry or Boulle work is as follows:--A thicker or thinner sheet of Italian poplar is placed between two sheets of oak with the grain the other way, then on the external sheet of oak is placed the wood intended to be seen, also with the grain the other way, the whole of convenient thickness, and glued with the best glue. Good glue is the nurse of the wood, say the masters. These four or five thicknesses of wood pulling against each other neutralise all bad effects, and the result is very good. The external covering is usually either mahogany, American walnut, or violet wood (a sort of cedar). Sometimes it is ebony, or perhaps a collection of small pieces of wood, such as acacia, which are called by all sorts of pretty names. It is of this fine and good 'plaque' that they still make cupboards at 1000 francs, beds at 600 francs, and bureaus at 800 francs, which are the success and the pride of Parisian joinery." The marqueteurs of Nice made use of olive for veined grey backgrounds, orange and lemon for pale yellow, carob for dark red, jujube tree for rose colour, holly for white, and charred fig for black; arbutus served for dark flesh, and sumach for light.

It is advisable after the marquetry has been put together to reduce the surface to a level and do something in the way of polishing, though it is not necessary to carry the process as far as is often done by the cheap furniture manufacturers. If nothing but wood has been used, the surface should be reduced to a level with a toothing plane and scraped with a joiner's scraper, taking care to apply it obliquely to the joints as far as possible, so as to avoid digging down and so failing in the object aimed at. If done very well and carefully it sometimes only requires to be rubbed down with its own shavings, but it is more usually necessary to follow with a worn piece of glass-paper on a flat piece of cork, but the dust must not be allowed to collect into hard lumps upon it, as these lumps would scratch the surface. Holtzapffel says that when metal, ivory, pearl, shell, or tortoiseshell are mixed with the wood the surface must be carefully levelled with flat files, ending with a very smooth one, after which the scraper should be used if possible and followed by glass or emery paper very sparingly. When metal preponderates emery paper is best, and really good _sand_ paper may also be used, but all paper should have very little "cut," should be applied dry, and allowed to become clogged, so as to act principally as a hard dry rubber or burnisher. If the polishing is at all in excess the wood will get rubbed or worn down below the metal. The fine finish required when tortoiseshell and metal are used is got by rubbing with blocks of charcoal used endways with oil and the finest rotten-stone powder, much like polishing marble, using oil instead of water. Wet polishing should not be used for inlaid works; the water may soften the glue. A superficial wetting is likely to warp the woods and make them curl up at the edges, and the grain of the wood is almost certain to rise. Oil is better than water, but light woods are almost certain to become stained by polishing powders and fluid. To avoid this modern marquetry is often covered with varnish applied with friction like French polish, or laid on in several coats with a brush and polished off with pumice and rotten stone, like the Vernis Martin, being first levelled with a file or scraper and smoothed with glass-paper.


[3] The panel illustrated from the Albert and Victoria Museum is a good average specimen of this kind, but not quite a masterpiece.


The process described, by which the early works in intarsia were produced, was slow and tedious; and, as may be supposed, though fame might be won by its exercise, the winning of fortune was a very different thing. Domenico di Nicol, who made the stalls in the chapel of the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, and was thence called "del Coro," or "dei Cori," a name which descended to his children in place of their proper name of Spinelli, is an example in point. The petitions to the priors already referred to, printed in Milanesi's Documenti per la Storia dell' Arte Senese, show how little a man of talent, who was constantly employed for many years and gained great reputation in his art, could do to provide for his old age; and many returns of both painters, sculptors, and woodworkers, made for the purposes of taxation and printed in the same book, show that even in a great and flourishing town like Siena, which prided itself on its artistic reputation, it was often most difficult for the craftsmen, on whose work that reputation was based, to make a living.[4] It is true that there were thirty-four workshops for wood carving and intarsia in Florence at one time (1478, as Fabroni says in his life of Lorenzo the Magnificent), from which one may conclude that work of a certain sort was plentiful and lucrative, and panels of intarsia were certainly sometimes exported, but it may be observed that all the most celebrated intarsiatori practised some other form of art also, and generally abandoned intarsia sooner or later; the exceptions being those who belonged to the Olivetan and Dominican orders, and therefore had no anxiety about their living. Of these craftsmen the most celebrated were Fra Giovanni da Verona and Fra Damiano of Bergamo, whose works were so elaborate and so finely executed as to excite the suspicion that they were painted with the brush, though supposed to be executed with wood and the chisel. The anecdote of the Emperor Charles V.'s trial of Fra Damiano's tarsia panel in S. Domenico, Bologna, attests the wonderful quality of the work, and its success in attaining a doubtful aim, and Barili's inscription in the panel showing himself at work shows that it was not uncommon for such panels to be supposed to be the work of the brush. The designs from which the intarsia was executed were often furnished by painters of repute, and pictures or portions of pictures were copied, a proceeding which Fra Giovanni's discovery of stains and washes of different kinds made easier, until the proper limits of the art were far overpassed, and its decorative quality quite lost sight of in the attempt to rival a form of art the requirements of which were quite different. The beautiful arabesques, which the designers of the early Renaissance poured forth with exhaustless fertility, show the capabilities of the process for decorating flat surfaces, and the perspectives of cupboards and buildings were often most successful without passing the limits imposed by the material.

The question of the limits within which the craftsman's effort should be confined in any form of art craftsmanship is a thorny one, for the attempt to overstep those limits has always had attractions for the craftsman who is master of his craft, and who sighs for fresh fields to conquer, knowing better than the outsider what are the difficulties which he has overcome successfully in any piece of work from the side of craftsmanship, though often with disastrous results when the matter is regarded from the point of view of excellence in design and purity of taste. It has been maintained by purists in modern times that all engraving or shading of the pieces of wood used in forming the design is illegitimate; and if this be so, it is equally illegitimate to stain any of them; but it is undeniable that a great addition to the resources of the inlayer was made by the discoveries of Fra Giovanni, and it seems unreasonable to refuse to make any use of them because later intarsiatori abused these means of gaining effect. The earliest work, it is true, depends mainly upon silhouette for its beauty, but does not altogether disdain lines within the main outline, and the abandonment of these inner lines, whether made by graver or saw, so reduces the possibilities of choice of subject as to restrict the designer to a simplicity which is apt to become bald. A great deal may be done by choice of pieces of wood and arrangement of the direction of the lines of the grain; some of Fra Giovanni's perspectives show very suggestive skies made in this manner, and Fra Damiano was very successful in thus suggesting the texture of much veined and coloured marble and of rocks, but directly the human figure enters into the design these expedients are felt to be insufficient and inexpressive, and inner lines have perforce to be introduced. The opposite extreme is such work as the panels by the brothers Caniana in the Colleoni Chapel at Bergamo, in which the composition and drawing of the figures recall the designs of the Caracci, and the technique of the shading reminds one of a copper plate, while the tinting and gradation of the colours take away all impression of a work in wood, substituting that of a coloured engraving. Here it is quite evident that the desire to imitate pictorial qualities has led the craftsman far away from what should have been his aim, viz., to display the qualities of the material which he was using to the best advantage, consistently with the position and purpose of his work in it. Not that perfection of workmanship is to be decried, though it is only occasionally that one is able to make use of, or indeed produce it. But the aesthetic sense demands that consideration for material and purpose in every production which the joy and pride of the craftsman in overcoming difficulties sometimes prevents him from giving. Notwithstanding the beauty of much of the marquetry of the periods of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., one often feels that design has been put to one side in the endeavour to gain a realistic effect, and the same defect may be traced more clearly in the clumsier Dutch and German productions. Even in the Italian work of an earlier date every now and then the same fault peeps out, though the excellent taste of the nation at that period prevented the Italians from falling into such excesses, and one generally feels the wood even in their most elaborate perspectives. It may be asserted in a general way that the more colours are used the less likelihood is there of the effect being quite satisfactory, and that any light and shade introduced should be of the simplest kind. A slight darkening of parts of the wood to gain a certain suggestion of roundness is quite admissible, but the expedient should be used with discretion, lavish employment of it leading to heaviness of effect and a monotony of tone which are most unpleasing. If ivory or metals are introduced the greatest care is necessary to prevent them from giving a spotty and uneven effect to the design, for neither these two materials nor mother-of-pearl marry quite with the tone of the wood; and this inequality is likely to increase with age, as the wood becomes richer and mellower in colour. Such materials should be so used that the points where they occur may form a pattern in themselves independently of the rest of the design, so that the effect may be pleasing at first sight, before the general meaning of the less prominent details is realised. Any other way of using them courts failure, since the effect of the whole design is ruined by the uncalculated prominence and inequality of these materials here and there. The Dutch sometimes made use of mother-of-pearl, in pieces upon which engraving broke up the hard glitter of the material, mingled with brass wire and nails or studs driven into the surface of the wood. The two materials appear to be quite harmonious, and small articles decorated in this manner are effective and satisfactory. The Italian use of ivory for the decoration of musical instruments, chess and backgammon boards, and other small objects is almost always successful, the proportion between wood and ivory being well judged, and the forms of the ornament pleasing.

[Illustration: _To face page 122._

Plate 53.--_Panel from S. Maria in Organo, Verona._]

The modern French marquetry, though exceedingly clever and beautiful in its use of various woods, errs by want of consideration of the surface to be decorated, the subjects flowing over the surfaces and overflowing the proper boundaries very often; and also sins in using many woods of very slightly different tones and textures, which will almost certainly lose their reciprocal relation in the course of time, and thereby their decorative effect. The ancient intarsias were made of a small number of different woods, and the effect was kept simple; pear, white poplar, oak, walnut, and holly almost exhaust the list; while even Roentgen's work, in which he used a larger number of woods, including some of those foreign trees which Dutch commerce made available for him, has suffered from their changing and fading. I would advise the marqueteur to disregard most of the many foreign woods now in the market, and content himself with simple and well-proved effects for the most part, trusting rather to beauty of design to give distinction to his work than to variety of colour and startling effects of contrast.

[Illustration: Plate 54.--_Panel from S. Maria in Organo, Verona._

_To face page 126._]

It is the fashion at the present day to exhort the designer to found his design upon the study of nature, which is right enough if accompanied by discretion and a feeling for style. In many mouths, however, the exhortation means that the copying of natural forms is advised, and often, if one may judge from the examples which one sees around one, without selection either of subject or form. Now it is obvious that it is sometimes the beauty of form in natural objects which attracts the eye, and sometimes the beauty or strangeness of colours, either in their combination or from the unusual tint. And while the former quality fits the object for translation into ornament, by means of simplification and repetition, the latter is more likely to be the suggestive starting point for the production of something quite different than a factor in a directly-derived composition. Certain forms of flowers and leaves are also suitable for ornament expressed in a certain way, and when this harmony occurs the representation of nature is satisfactory as ornament; but the reverse is very often shown to be the case in work of a more modern type, in which the design is based on the dictum that the copying of natural forms will produce ornament. It is not the copying of natural forms, but the ordering of the spaces, the arranging and balancing of line and mass, and the adaptation of means to ends which produce satisfactory decoration, and in the best Italian intarsias founded upon freely-growing, natural plants this is well shown. The observation of natural growth shown in illustrations Nos. 53, 54, and 55 is considerable, but the panels are not so beautiful because the bay, the pink, or the lily are so well rendered, but because the pattern of waving lines is so well fitted to the space it has to fill, and the shapes of the silhouettes are so expressive. In the later French marquetry we often find an equal or almost equal dexterity in expressing the natural form, and an almost greater cleverness in adapting the design to the material; but the Italian work has a fineness of style shown in a grace of arrangement and of proportioning the ornament to the space to be filled which is unsurpassable.

Certain remarks made by Mr. Stephen Webb, in a paper read to the Society of Arts on April 28, 1899, as to the qualities which the designer or craftsman must possess for successfully producing intarsia, are worth reproducing here as the sayings of a man who himself has done much beautiful work of the kind. "Tone harmony, and in a limited degree, the sense of values, he must certainly cultivate. He must be able to draw a line or combination of lines which _may_ be ingenious if you like, but _must_ be delicate and graceful, vigorous withal, and in proper relation to any masses which he may introduce into his design. He must thoroughly understand the value of contrast in line and surface form, but these matters, though a stumbling block to the amateur, are the opportunities of the competent designer and craftsman. The most charming possibilities of broken colour lie ready to his hand, to be merely selected by him and introduced into his design. If the wood be properly selected shading is rarely necessary, and if it is done at all should be done by an artist.

In the hands of an artist very beautiful effects may be obtained, the same kind of wood being made to yield quite a number of varying shades of colour of a low but rich tone. Over-staining and the abuse of shading are destructive. Ivory has always been a favourite material with workers in tarsia, and in the hands of an experienced designer very charming things may be done with it. There is, however, no material suitable for tarsia which requires so much care and experience in its use. It is ineffective in light-coloured woods, and in the darker ordinary woods, such as ebony, stained mahogany, or rosewood, under polish, the contrast of colour is so great that the ivory must be used very sparingly. The ivory is sometimes stained in order to bring its colour more into harmony with a dark wood-ground, but it is never quite satisfactory. The use of inlay makes the direction from which the light enters the room a matter of no moment, so long as the light reaches the object decorated."

The effect of intarsia has been sought by various imitative processes, some of which are indistinguishable from it except by close inspection.

In one of these wax, either in its natural state or tinted with an addition of powder colour, was used; in another glue mixed with whiting or plaster, also sometimes tinged, or red lead. On April 7, 1902, a paper was read at the Royal Institute of British Architects on wax stoppings of this kind by Mr. Heywood Sumner, in the course of which he said that the process he himself had used was as follows:--"First trace the design on the panel of wood to be incised; cut it, either with a V tool or knife blade fixed in a tool-handle; clear out the larger spaces with a small gouge, leaving tool-mark roughness in the bottoms for key; when cut, stop the suction of the wood by several coats of white, hard polish. For coloured stoppings, resin (as white as can be got), beeswax, and powdered distemper are the three things needful. The melted wax may be run into the incisions by means of a small funnel with handle and gas jet affixed; it is attachable to the nearest gas burner by india-rubber tubing, so that a regulated heat can be applied to the funnel. When thus attached and heated, pieces of wax of the required inlay colour are dropped into the funnel, and soon there will be a run of melted wax dropping from the end of the funnel-spout, which is easily guided by means of the wooden handle, and thus the entire panel may be inlaid with the melted wax. Superfluous surface wax is cleared off with a broad chisel, so as to make the whole surface flush. The suction of the wood is stopped by means of white, hard polish, otherwise the hot wax will enter the grain of the wood and stain it. Incised panels may be filled successfully with japanner's gold size and powdered distemper colour, using a palette knife to distribute the slab mixture. A close grain is the one thing needful in the wood. As to design, that which is best suited may be compared to a broad sort of engraving." Red lead was also used sometimes, and in the furniture room at South Kensington there are several chests and other pieces of furniture which have the incised design filled in with a mixture of whiting, glue, and linseed oil.

[Illustration: Plate 55.--_Panel from S. Pietro in Casinense, Perugia._

_To face page 130._]

At Hardwick some of the door panels are painted with arabesques in Indian ink, and varnished (a process also employed on several pieces of furniture in the South Kensington collection), and even in certain cases, no doubt under the direction of Bess of Hardwick, engravings have been stuck on the panels, tinted, surrounded with similar painting, and then similarly varnished over. The sacristy cupboards at S. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, called "Lo Scaffale," show paintings of no less an artist than Luini, the ornamental part of which is intended to simulate tarsia.

For small objects, such as trinket boxes, a marquetry of straw tinted to different colours was sometimes employed, which, though not very lasting, in the hands of a worker who possessed taste in colour sometimes produced pleasing results, a form of work practised both in Holland and England, and lasting well into the 19th century. The writer possesses one or two objects decorated by this process which were bought from the French prisoners taken in the Peninsular War, who provided themselves with little luxuries by making and selling them. In all these imitative processes the question of design becomes of the very highest importance, since the material has neither beauty nor intrinsic value in itself; and here, even more than in many other forms of manufacture, the presence and influence of the intelligent designer is most desirable, and should be paramount.


[4] In 1453 Matteo di Giovanni Bartoli, painter, says that he possesses the half of certain tools and appliances of his art, which are not worth 20 florins, and that the other half belongs to Giovanni di Pietro, painter, his partner. That they are in a house or dwelling that they hire from Guicciardo Forteguerri in the Palazzo Forteguerri, which they have as a house and not a shop, and that he has nothing else in the world but a few debts (!). He says that he makes no profit, but is learning as well as he can, and that his uncle, Ser Francescho di Bartolo, the notary, keeps him. This is a young and promising artist who cannot get on. Priamo della Quercia, brother of the celebrated sculptor Jacopo della Fonte, painter, says that he is poor and without anything to live on; that he has a girl of marriageable age and a young boy; that he owes money to several people. He had a dower of 200 florins which came from a possession which the nuns of Ogni Santi held, because they said that they were heirs to his daughter-in-law, a nun in that convent (!) and they had kept possession for six years and he could not sue these nuns at law on account of his poverty. There are several documents referring to money and property which his brother left to this man, but which he seems to have difficulty in obtaining possession of, and he gives one the impression of being unfortunate through life. In the same year Antonio di Ser Naddo, painter, says he has a house with an oven within the walls of Siena, "male in ponto," in which he lives in the Contrada of Camporegi. That he has three useless mouths in the house which gain nothing, two children, one a boy, and the other a girl of marriageable age, but if he dowered her, so that she could be married, he would have nothing to live on. Also that he owes 20 florins to various people. In the same year others, both painters and woodworkers, complain that they have nothing to live on and owe money, some saying that they have become old and poor in the art. In 1478 Ventura di Ser Giuliano, architect and woodcarver, says that he has a little house in the city division in the place called of S. Salvador, and that he is away at Naples because of his debts, for he is afraid to return. That he owes Ser Biagio, the priest, 80 florins and other persons 402. In 1488 Giovanni di Cristofano Ghini, painter, says that he has a vineyard at Terraia in the commune of S. Giorgio a Papaino from which he receives in dues about 24 florins. That he has a wife and three sons and nothing to keep them on. That five years ago he had sold all that he had in the house, for times were very bad. That though he sticks to his work so closely that he does not even go for a walk he has not made the bread which he has eaten in the last six years. That he and his father have to keep a sister who was married to Andreoccio d'Andrea di Pizichino with her three little sons unless they are to die of hunger, and that they have a girl of marriageable age in the house, his sister, "Che e il fiorimento d'ognichosa." In the same year Benvenuto di Giovanni says that he is obliged to work away from Siena because his gains are so small; and finally in 1521, Ventura di Ser Giuliano di Tura petitions the Balia as follows:--He was a master joiner and says that he passed his youth and almost all his age in gathering ancient objects and carvings, which the craftsmen of the city have copied, so that one may say that the antique in the city has been re-discovered by his labours.

But that he has not by this benefit to the craftsmen provided for his old age, since both he and his wife have been very unwell for years past, and that he finds himself old, with four little daughters, "one no heavier than the other," so he asks for a little pension of eight lire a month (which has been suspended apparently), so that he may not have to go to the hospital for bread with his wife and the four little ones.


The use of stains and chemical baths for changing the colour of the wood employed by the intarsiatori was common from the time of Fra Giovanni da Verona, to whom Vasari ascribes the invention, but is most distinctive of the work of the later Dutch and French marqueteurs. Receipts for the purpose were handed down from master to pupil, and while sometimes held as traditional secrets to be jealously guarded, were sometimes committed to writing; and several of these manuscripts have come down to us. The following have been collected from French, German, and Italian sources, and though not all of equal value, show the way in which the ancient workers produced the effects, most of which we admire in the present day:--

To stain wood yellow (No. 1).--Put saffron in water, and when it is well steeped place the jar over hot coals. Then spread the stuff over boxwood with a brush. To make it brilliant let it dry, and put it with oil on the wood to be coloured. (No. 2.)--Take the plant turmeric (curcuma longa), grind it to powder; put an ounce into a pint of spirit (12 oz.), and leave it for a day. If the tone is required reddish, add some dragon's blood. (No. 3.)--A cheaper but duller colour is to be obtained from steeped French berries, then dried, with weak alum water brushed over it. Thin pieces are dipped in it. The solution of French berries may be made thus--Take 1 lb. of French berries, and a gallon of water with 1/2 oz. of alum; boil for an hour in a pewter vessel, and filter through paper. Evaporate till the colour appears strong enough. Another receipt says 4 oz. of French berries put to steep in a pint of water is to have added to it 1 oz. of hazel nuts and as much alum. Wood may also be stained yellow with _aqua fortis_, used warm, and then immediately placed near the fire. The _aqua fortis_ must not be too strong, or the wood will go brown or black. This is apparently the same thing as Vasari calls "oil of sulphur," used in his time for colouring wood. A Nuremberg receipt book says that the plant Tournesol (croton tinctorium) may be steeped in water, and this solution mixed with yellow colour and glue may be spread over the wood warm, and finally polished with a burnisher.

Holtzapffel gives the following:--A bright yellow stain may be obtained from 2 oz. of turmeric allowed to simmer for some hours in 1 quart of water in an earthen vessel, water being added from time to time to replace evaporation. Sparingly applied cold, it stains white woods the colour of satin wood. A canary yellow results from immersing the wood in the liquid, which can be rendered permanent without polishing by a strong solution of common salt. Washing the stained surface with nitro-muriate of tin for about a minute changes the colour to orange.

The work should then be well rinsed in plain water to check the further action of the acid. Treating the canary yellow with 2 oz. of sulphate of iron dissolved in 3 quarts of water, after it has been allowed to dry, dyes a delicate olive brown. A tincture of 1/4 oz. of turmeric to 3 oz.

of spirits of wine, allowed to stand for some days and well shaken daily, gives a rather higher colour.

Red may be produced by (No. 1) taking a pound of Brazil wood, with some rain water, a handful of unslaked lime, and two handsful of ashes; soak all for half an hour in water, "cook" it, and pour it out into another pot, in which is a measure of gum arabic. The wood to be coloured must be cooked in alum water, and then brushed over with the warm colour; the result is a splendid scarlet red. If the wood was first grounded with saffron water and then had the Brazil decoction applied, the result was orange; a spoonful of lye made a browner colour, with a little alum. If whiter wood was taken the colour was correspondingly brighter. (No.

2.)--Orcanda or Akanna root powdered, with nut oil, gives a fine red.

(No. 3.)--Put lime in rain water, strain it, scrape Brazil twigs in it, then proceed as in No. 1. You can also soak the Brazil in tartar. The same colour with Tournesol steeped in water gives a fine purple when spread on the wood. Lebrun gives the same receipt, adding that the beauty of the colour is increased by rubbing with oil, and that pear wood is the best to use. Another receipt says:--Make a strong infusion of Brazil wood in stale urine or water impregnated with pearl ash, 1 oz.

to a gallon; to a gallon of either of which put 1 lb. of Brazil wood.

Let it stand for two or three days, often stirring it. Strain the infusion, and brush over the wood boiling hot; then, while still wet, brush over with alum water, 2 oz. to a quart of water. A less bright red may be made with 1 oz. of dragon's blood in a pint of spirits of wine, brushed over the wood.

Holtzapffel gives for red stains the following:--Dragon's blood, an East Indian resin, gives a crimson with a purple tinge. Put a small quantity in an open vessel, and add sufficient linseed oil to rather more than cover it; it will be fit for use in a few days, when the oil may be poured off and more added. This dissolves more readily in oil than spirit. The colouring matter of Alkanet root, from which another red may be obtained, is contained in the rind, so that small pieces are the most useful. A deep red of a crimson character may be made with 1/2 oz.

of raspings of Brazil wood macerated in 3 oz. of alcohol. A wash of logwood (see below) given with the brush, and when dry followed with a wash of Brazil, produces a deep, full colour, and when the two are applied in the reverse order a more brilliant colour of the same kind. A decoction of Brazil (4 oz.) allowed to simmer for some hours in 1 quart of water yields a rather brown-red stain. Treating light woods so stained with nitro-muriate of tin gives a brilliant crimson of a purple tinge.

A brown red is made from a decoction of 2 oz. of logwood dust in 1 quart of water, or 1/2 oz. of logwood in 3 oz. of alcohol. Nitro-muriate of tin used on it gives a deep, dusky crimson purple. The same treated with alum solution yields a medium purple, darker and bluer than that from Brazil.

White wood stained with Brazil and then treated with alum (4 oz.

dissolved in a quart of water) acquires a light pink tinge. Another receipt for pink or rose red says:--1 gallon of infusion of Brazil wood, with 2 oz. additional of pearl ash; but it is necessary to brush the wood often with alum water. By increasing the proportion of pearl ash the red may be made still paler, in which case make the alum water stronger.

For purple one brushes the wood over several times with a strong decoction of logwood and Brazil, 1 lb. of logwood and 1/4 lb. of Brazil to a gallon of water boiled for an hour or more. When the wood is dark enough let it dry, and then lightly pass over with a solution of 1 drachm of pearl ash to a quart of water. Use this carefully, as the colour changes quickly from brown red to dark purple.

Jet black may be made by using the logwood stain, followed by a solution of iron, 1 oz. sulphate of iron to 1 quart of water, and a less intense black by the same mixture about three times diluted. The Italian receipt books are well provided with receipts for producing black, which suggests that most of the ebony used in inlay was factitious. A 15th century MS. says:--"Take boxwood, and lay in oil with sulphur for a night, then let it stew for an hour, and it will become as black as coal." Evidently this means what Vasari calls oil of sulphur, _aqua fortis_. Others are founded upon the application of a solution of logwood, followed by one of iron. "Stew logwood till the liquid is reduced to one-third of its bulk, mix with stone alum, and leave for three days. Mix iron filings with very strong wine, and let it stand for twenty-four hours. On the quantity of iron filings the depth of the tone depends. Lastly, ox-gall is dissolved in this mixture, and the whole is three times worked over." An English receipt says:--"Brush the wood over several times with a hot decoction of logwood; take 1/4 lb. of powdered galls, and set in the sun or other gentle heat in 2 quarts of water for three or four days; brush the wood over with it three or four times, and, while wet, with a solution of green vitriol in water, 2 oz. to a quart; or use a solution of copper in _aqua fortis_, then the solution of logwood, and repeat until black enough." A German receipt says:--"Take half a measure of iron filings and a pennyweight of sal ammoniac, and put into a pot of vinegar; let it stand for twelve days at least. In another pot put blue Brazil and 3 measures of bruised gall apples in strong lime lye, and let it stand for the same time. The wood must be first washed over with lye, and then with hot vinegar, and finally polished with wax." "Pear wood may be grounded with Brazil steeped in alum water, then coloured with the black which the leather-stainers use, twenty times." Another says:--"Take a pennyweight of fine silver, with a pound of _aqua fortis_; add a measure of water, and soak the wood with it." The best wood for imitating ebony is holly; also, box cooked in olive oil is good for it, or well-planed pear soaked with _aqua fortis_, and then coloured with ink several times; or stew the wood in lamp-black, and soak with oil.

Blue may be obtained by the use of a solution of copper brushed hot over the wood several times; then brush hot a solution of pearl ash, 2 oz. to a pint of water, until the wood becomes perfectly blue. The copper solution is prepared in this way:--"Take of the refiner's solution of copper made in the precipitation of silver from the spirit of nitre; or dissolve copper in spirit of nitre, or _aqua fortis_, by throwing in filings or putting in strips of copper gradually till all effervescence ceases. Add to it starch finely powdered, one-fifth or one-sixth of the weight of copper dissolved. Make a solution of pearl ash and filter it; put gradually to the solution of copper as much as will precipitate the whole of the copper. The fluid becomes colourless. Wash the powder, and when so well drained of water by means of a filter as to be of the proper consistence, grind well together, and lay out to dry. This makes dark verditer." Indigo may also be used, prepared with soap lees as when used by dyers; brush it over the wood boiling hot. With a solution of cream of tartar, 3 oz. to a quart of water, and boiled, brush over the wood copiously before the moisture is quite dried out. A German receipt says:--Put 4 oz. of Tournesol in three parts of lime water to cook for an hour and spread it on the wood. "Wood coloured green with verdigris can be made blue by using pearl ash." This is the process described first.

For green verdigris dissolved in vinegar may be used; or crystals of verdigris in water, brushed hot over the wood. A 15th century MS. gives a traditional mode thus:--"Wood, bone, small leaves, and knife handles can be made green by strong, red vinegar and brass filings mixed together with a little Roman vitriol and stone alum in a glass vessel.

When it has stood for a day the object is dipped in it, and steeps itself in the liquid. The colour will be very permanent." A German receipt says:--"Take walnut shells from the green fruit, and put in very strong lye with some copper vitriol and alum to stew for two or three hours. The wood must be put in strong wine vinegar for several days, then it is put in the above-mentioned mixture, to which ground verdigris mixed with vinegar is added. Or you can mix this ground verdigris with vinegar with some winestone, let it clarify, and spread the wood with the filtered stuff. The addition of saffron makes a grass green."

A silver grey may be given to white wood by immersion in a decoction of 4 oz. of sumach in 1 quart of water, and afterwards in a very dilute solution of sulphate of iron. A dilute solution of bichromate of potash is frequently employed to darken oak, mahogany, and coloured woods. This should be used carefully, since its effects are not altogether stopped by thoroughly washing the wood with water when dark enough. To bleach woods, immerse them in a strong, hot solution of oxalic acid.

Since ivory is often used in inlaying and is sometimes stained, a few receipts for its staining will not be out of place. These come from Holtzapffel's book:--A pale yellow will be given by immersing the ivory for one minute in the tepid stain given by 60 grains of saffron boiled for some hours in half-a-pint of water. Immersion for from five to fifteen minutes produces a canary yellow brighter or deeper according to the time given, but all somewhat fugitive. A stain from 4 oz. of fustic dust and chips boiled in 1 quart of water produces similar but somewhat darker and more permanent results. Ivory subjected to either of these stains for fifteen minutes, and then placed for one to three minutes in Brazil water stain acquires an orange colour. If then treated with nitro-muriate of tin, an orange of a brighter, redder tone is produced; transfer to a clean water bath directly the required colour appears, as the nitro-muriate of tin acts very rapidly upon the ivory.

Fine scarlet cloth is used for dyeing various tones of red. A piece about a foot square may be cut into shreds and boiled, with the addition of 10 grains of pearl ash, in half-a-pint of water from 5 to 6 hours.

Immersion in the liquid for from three to ten minutes gives tones of pink; for one hour and subsequently for half-an-hour in an alum mordant gives a pink of a bright crimson character. When the ivory is from two to three hours in the tepid stain a crimson red results, and the addition of 1 part of sulphuric acid to 60 of stain gives billiard ball colour. Pinks of a different and duller full tone may be obtained by immersion for three minutes in Brazil water stain, followed by treatment with nitro-muriate of tin; when the Brazil is used for six minutes a deeper colour results. Fifteen minutes in Brazil, then treatment with nitro-muriate of tin and immediate washing gives a duller and deeper red than the first red-cloth stain. The depth of colour may be increased by longer immersion _or_ a higher temperature. A dull scarlet or brick red is made by the Brazil bath, followed by thirty to sixty minutes in an alum mordant.

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