Helen Campbell.

The American girl's home book of work and play online

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waiting for the front to dry, and the roof can then be put
on. Paste it together at the top edges, and then paste the


top edges of the house to hold the roof when set on. After
the roof is firm, cover it with black or dark-red paper. The
chimney may better be of wood of the shape given, and
pasted also ; and the ridge is made by pasting on a very
narrow strip of cardboard. Sometimes, instead of cleats,
the cuts are made in the cardboard a little beyond the lines
given, and the pieces thus made bent down at the lines,
and pasted wherever a joining is made. When a simple
little cottage has been made like this, it will easily be seen
how to improve upon it. A good way is to take the plans
and elevations for houses given in such papers as "The
Agriculturist," or "American Rural Home," and try to imi-
tate them exactly. If you want ground or grass-plots about
your houses, cover the board on which it will stand with
mucilage, and sprinkle on common house-sand for paths,
putting short green moss for grass. An ivy-vine can be
made with painted cardboard leaves. Bay-windows and
piazzas are easily added ; and there is no limit when once
you have found just how to do the work neatly and firmly.
Animals can be made, and very natural ones too, by tracing
the pattern for one from pictures in any natural history ;
then, following the lines exactly, and painting as nearly
like the copy as possible.

With perforated cardboard there are endless uses, from
the mottoes which may be embroidered, and by which chil-
dren may learn some mysteries of shading and stitches, to
the beautiful fret-work, which has a real value. This fret-
work is done by laying the cardboard on a board, and cutting
away, with the point of a very sharp penknife, whatever de-
sign has been fixed upon. If any cut meets another, of
course the entire piece is carried away, and the greatest
care is necessary to prevent this. The finest board must
be used. A Maltese cross is made by cutting the size re-


quired, being sure that it is begun with an even number of
holes ; then cut each successive piece one hole smaller on
each side, gumming them all together. The last layer will
have but one hole. When dry, paste on black velvet, and
frame, the effect being almost like carving. A lamp-shade
may be made of five pieces, each a third narrower at top
than at bottom. Cut an oval space from the centre of each,
and fit or paste on a small picture. Then build up a frame,
as in the Maltese cross, by laying on pieces, each one a little
smaller than the last. Or scallops can be cut around the
edge, each piece carefully lined, and the whole laced to-
gether with very fine silk cord, little tassels hanging between
each. Bookmarks are pretty in fret-work, gummed to rib-
bon. And there are many ways of using that will occur to
every ingenious girl ; though let me tell you, in confidence,
that such work is best for younger sisters, who enjoy and
learn from it ; but it has not real beauty and value enough to
be done by older hands ; much of it in a room giving a cheap
look. Modelling in the plain cardboard is quite another
matter, and educates both eye and hand ; but the perforated
board may better be let alone after childhood.




THE walking-club already mentioned will have made the
gathering of ferns and autumn leaves part of its work ; and
a little trouble expended in drying them carefully will give
winter ornaments, which in the right place are always beau-
tif-ul. The right place is certainly not on lace curtains, from
which they are perpetually falling, nor anywhere where they
are liable to be constantly knocked off. Single ones are
often used to great advantage in transparencies ; but the
best arrangement for all such collections is in a large vase,
either in a niche, or on a corner-bracket, where a dark back-
ground will bring out the beauty of form and color. A few
feathery dried grasses, tall bleached ferns, and sprays of
maiden-hair, and bright leaves interspersed, will be pleasant
to the eye through all the winter months.

In gathering ferns, never hold them in the hand, as they
wither immediately, and cannot be restored. Carry a bas-
ket and an old book. Lay long specimens in the basket,
and small ones between the leaves of the book. If there
are no old bound volumes of newspapers given over to such
uses, cut and fold the large dailies the full length, so that
the longest fern will have full room to be laid flat. Put
each one in separately ; and, when all are in, put under an
even, heavy weight. Have a duplicate set of folded papers,
and change each day, drying the damp papers near a fire, so
that they will be ready to use next day. A week of this is


enough. But the ferns may better remain in the papers till
wanted. If the stems break, use very fine wire, by means of
which they can be fastened in almost any position.

Autumn leaves, if treated in precisely this way, will never
shrivel, and require no ironing. Gather large sprays, as far
as possible, and lay each leaf in its natural position. Pressed
in this way, they can be used above pictures, and are much
more easily handled. Another method has lately been given
in one of Appleton's " Home Books," which is better than
ironing, or the ordinary varnishing or waxing. The leaves
are first pressed as described. Melt pure white sheet wax by
putting it in a dish, and standing it in hot water, allowing two
or three drops of turpentine to each sheet. Each leaf is to
be dipped in the melted wax, and held there a few moments ;
then taken out, and laid on paper to harden. " If the wax
is of the proper heat, the leaf will look as if just varnished ;
while, if too hot, it will shrivel, and, if too cool, lumps will
form on the surface of the leaf. Leaves treated in this way
seem perfectly natural, but can also be varnished."

Grasses come to perfection in midsummer, and, though
sometimes pressed like leaves, can simply be tied in bunches,
and hung, tops down, to dry. Many people bleach or dye
them ; but my advice is like Punch's to young people think-
ing of matrimony, " Don't." Their beauty is in their natu-
ralness ; and magenta or blue grass is, most certainly, any
thing but natural.

Seaweeds are at their best in July, August, and Septem-
ber. In collecting them it is best to carry a little pail of
sea-water, and, as each specimen is gathered, drop it in ; as,
if carried any distance without water, they lose much of
their beauty. Low tide is the time for gathering them ; and
old clothes and shoes will be necessary, as the best speci-
mens have to be scrambled for. Wash away every particle


of sand or slime by rinsing them many times in fresh water.
Then lay them in a shallow dish of water, and float them
on to the cards or sheets you propose to mount them on,
arranging every strand and fibre with delicate scissors, or a
black-head pin. Drain the water carefully off by slanting
the card ; dry for a moment with a very soft cloth ; and
then press them in newpaper-books, changing them several
times until dry. Sometimes mucilage is necessary. A full
description of all varieties found on our coasts, with the best
methods of treating them, is given in a book on sea-mosses,
the full title of which is on p. 411.

The town of Erfurt in Germany is noted for its drying of
natural flowers so perfectly that they are sent without in-
jury to all parts of the world. The finest sand is used, and
directions from the German authority are given here.

" In the first place the sand must have water poured over it
until it runs off clear, every particle of dust or dirt having
been carried off. Then dry it, either by spreading in the sun
or in an oven, and, when dry, sift carefully. The sand will
then be pure, like * silver sand/ The flowers to be dried in
it must be very perfect specimens, and no moisture on them
from dew or rain. Gather them after the dew has dried.
Put a deep layer of sand in box or pan, in which holes have
been bored, and a paper laid over them, and stick each
flower upright in it, not letting one touch the other. When
all are in position, the troublesome part of the work begins.
The box is to be filled with sand, so that every flower is per-
fectly covered, and every leaf and petal must rest firmly on
sand before it is covered. To do this the sand is sprinkled
slowly through a small sieve or a funnel ; and, when the bo.
is full, it must be covered, and carried, without jostling 01
shaking, to a warm, dry place ; the best temperature being a
steady one of 100 F. In three days the flowers should be


dry. The sand must then be run out from the box by
piercing through the paper in the bottom, first taking off
the lid, so that each flower as it appears can be lifted out
by the stem, and carefully shaken. At first they will be
very dry and brittle, but soon draw moisture from the air,
and can then be arranged as liked. Flowers are also pre-
served by dipping in paraffin e-oil.

Skeletonizing leaves and flowers is a very old art, the best
use of which at present is to teach forms and characteristics
of plants. The simplest method, though a long one, is to
gather each variety of leaf when in perfection, and put in a
tub of rain-water, open to air and sunshine. A month, at
least, will be needed before any become soft and pulpy.
Then put feelings aside altogether, and go at the most un-
pleasant and slimy job of making them ready for bleaching.
" Slip a card under the one to be taken out, and so transfer
it to a basin of fresh water, when it will float off the card
without breaking. Two or three brushes and a knife are
then needed for the cleaning, a soft brush, one of stiffer
bristles, and a toothbrush. With the soft brush, the outer
surface of pulp is brushed away, the leaf being again lifted
by a card, and placed on a piece of smooth glass ; and then,
by dexterous touches, the entire pulpy surface is removed,
water being carefully poured over it to complete the cleans-

For bleaching, take half a pound of chloride of lime, with
three pints of soft water, and stir and mash the lime fine.
Then put away the pitcher holding it, and let it settle an
hour ; finally straining it into a bottle, which must be kept
corked. For bleaching, put two tablespoonfuls of this solu-
tion to a pint of water ; though for thick leaves, like holly,
magnolia, etc., three will be needed. Watch the leaves care-
fully as you lay them in ; and as soon as bleached, which will


take only a few moments, float them off on cards, and dry on
a soft cloth. Then press in a book ; and in a day or two they
will be ready to mount, either as a bouquet, or with a back-
ground of black velvet. Stems are often lost ; but good ones
can be made by stiffening crochet-cotton with gum, and
gumming it to the back of the leaf. The most usual way is
to have a round velvet cushion, with hole in the centre, and
arrange the wreath or bouquet on this, putting it on a stand
with glass shade. The stems must be gummed to the sides
of this hole ; letting light leaves be the centre, and seed-
vessels, etc., around them. A cross covered with black
cotton-backed velvet makes a very pretty ornament. There
are various other methods of bleaching and preparing ; but
this is the simplest for beginners, who, as they progress, can
experiment at will.




THE use of leather can be made much more general than is
supposed by the many who recall picture-frames in country
houses, covered thickly with impossible flowers, and who
think " leather-work " only another word for wasted time.
As a fact, however, the industrial art schools have all taken
it up, finding that leather lends itself to many uses, and that
really beautiful articles can be modelled or constructed from

Where flowers or leaves are copied, it is necessary to imi-
tate nature as closely as possible ; and the leaf or flower
should be before one precisely as much as when a drawing
is to be made. Carvings of every sort can also be copied,
and architectural mouldings also ; and the work is one of
the pleasantest introductions to wood-carving.

The materials necessary for the work are skins of thick
leather, prepared for it, called basil, and of thinner leather,
called skiver; moulds -for making grapes and convolvulus-
flowers ; wooden pestles and moulding-tools ; a knife, scis-
sors, nippers, hammer, pins, wire, small brad-awls for
piercing, a tool for veining the leaves, and glue, which is
generally prepared in sheets, to be melted as required. It
must be soaked for several hours in cold water, and then
gradually heated, and kept hot while in use.

The leather is cut and veined on a thin board.



This is, perhaps, the most easily modelled spray to begin
with ; and any patterns of leaves may be obtained by putting
the real ones on paper, and tracing round them, and copying
the veinings. Place the paper pattern on the leather, and
cut it out in the whole spray. Pare the edges with the knife
on the under side of the leather, so as to make the leaves
and stalks thinner at the edges ; then dip the spray in cold
water, or put it on the board, and damp it thoroughly with
a wet sponge. It must not be too wet, or it will be swollen
by the water ; but while dry it will not receive the impres-
sion of the veiner, neither can it be moulded into shape.
The veining is to be done by pressing the small veining-tool
on the front side of the leather, and drawing it down and
across the leaf with sufficient force to give the markings of
the real leaf. The middle vein is made by double lines.
When all the leaves have been veined, they are to be
modelled into shape, and curled, as in nature. The leather
leaf should be held in the left hand, and the under part of it
pressed with the thumb and second finger of the right hand,
while the forefinger presses it on the top, so as to push the
leather up between the veins, and to curl the edges over.
The middle stem and the leaf-stalks must be laid on the
board, face downwards, and rolled with the palm of the hand
till they are quite round. They will not require wire. When
quite dry, they will retain their roundness, and the leaves
will keep their shape and the impressions of the veining-tool.
In order to make them firmer and stiffer, it may be as well
to put a coating of glue over the under part of the leaves,
and to glue up the stems into close, round stalks. The ber-
ries of the ivy are made by pushing small circles of the thin
part of the leather into little round holes in the small mould



(well wetting them first), and moulding them by turning the
smallest pestle round and round in the hole. They are
pulled out of the hole in shape, and left to dry; after which
they are trimmed, and glued on to the circles made for them
on the spray. The five outer berries are cut out on the
branch, and must be moulded also. Holly-berries, currants,

* The same moulded and filled up.

and small grapes, are made in the same way, in moulds of
various sizes. The spray is now ready to be glued to the
wooden frame on which it is to be mounted, which, if not
entirely concealed by the leaves, must be prepared by a cov-
ering of the thin skiver glued over it. The leaves and stalks
must be glued on firmly over this ; and it is best to secure
them in their places by the pins, which are hammered a little
way in, and these can either be withdrawn when the work is
quite firm, or the upper part of the pin may be broken oft
with the nippers, and the point left in the frame if it will be
concealed by the leaves. The glue must be kept very hot
while in use, and in a moderate degree of consistency. If it


is too thick, it cannot be laid on smoothly ; and, if it is too
thin, it is apt to stain the work. Especial care must be
taken to avoid glue-stains when the work is left uncolored
and unvarnished ; and this is generally the case in the pres-
ent day. It is found, that the leather left in its original con-
dition becomes of a very nice artistical color when long
exposed to the air, and is better unstained by any preparation
of paint or varnish.


Sprays of holly-leaves and berries are made exactly in the
same way as the ivy; but the leaves must be pinched at
the edges into points, to imitate the original leaves.

The acorns are best made by covering the real acorns with
skiver : but, if these cannot be obtained, they must be cut
out in halves, like the pattern, moulded, and stuffed with
cotton-wool ; and the cup must be very much pricked,
snipped, and indented, to give the rough appearance of the
original. The half acorn alone will generally be sufficient
to glue on a frame or bracket, etc., unless it is to be pen-
dent ; in which case, of course, the whole acorn will be
needed, and it would be best to cover one separately from
the cup, and glue into that. Nuts and filberts are made in
the same manner, and fastened into a thin leather involucre,
cut out from the original, and jagged in the same way.
Pendent grapes are made in a similar fashion ; but, for these,
little wooden moulds of light wood are required. They are



covered with skiver made very wet, and drawn closely round
them, and tied with cotton at the stalk-end. As soon as
they are quite dry, the cotton is taken off, and the leather
cut away, so as to leave a smooth point ready to be attached
to the stalk, or be glued into the bunch. The grapes that
are not pendent are made in the moulds, in the same way

a. Stalk, b, 6, b. Tendrils c. Method of doing the grapes.

as the ivy and holly berries, and glued on a piece of
leather ; the lower ones concealing the foundation, and the
others being piled on, one half over another, so as to form a
compact bunch of grapes of various sizes. The branch,



leaves, and tendrils of the vine, must be very carefully
modelled, veined, and rolled. The broad strip of leather cut
out for the stalk is to be very much veined, wrinkled, folded,
and twisted, to represent nature. It is impossible to de-
scribe its manufacture accurately ; and it can hardly be done
without a pattern, or the real branch to model from. The
tendrils should have a vein drawn down the under side, so
as to make them curl over more easily ; and then they are
rolled and glued like the flower leaf-stalks.


The flowers of the convolvulus are moulded in the moulds
sold for the purpose, of various sizes, with pestles fitting into


i. Leaf of C. major, a. Leaves for small convolvulus 3 Flower of C. major. 4. Calyx of C.
major. 5 . Bud of C. major.

them. The leather is cut out, of the shape No. 3, wetted,
and pressed into the mould with the pestle in the right


hand ; while the left hand arranges the flower, so as to have
it as smooth and unwrinkled as possible. The leather is cut
close round the edge of the mould, and left to dry. After-
wards it has to be glued up, and attached to the stalk. It is
best to cut a separate spray of stalks for the flowers and
buds and tendrils, snipping the points of the flower-stems
into stamens, cut very thin, and curled while wet, and twist-
ing up the buds into points. The stems and tendrils are, of
course, to be rounded while wet ; and the latter should be
twisted round a pen-stick or pencil, to give them the required
coils. When dry, the stamens are pulled through the
flowers, the calyx modelled into shape, and pushed up the
stalk, and all are firmly glued together. Then the flower-
spray is twined round the spray of leaves, and the two sprays
are mounted together.


The rose-petals are to be cut out in circles made up of
five petals each. Three of No. I are required, and two of a
size smaller, and one of the smallest size, which can easily
be graduated from pattern No. i.

They are veined in the centre of each petal, and modelled
in the hand with a moulding-tool, so as to round them like
rose-petals. The smallest circle is closed up, and the petals
are glued together ; one edge of the petal being placed over
another petal, and so on. The circles must be modelled so
that all but two of No. i are hollowed in the inner side:
these are moulded so as to turn back, and are not so much
hollowed as the others. When the rose is formed, the stalk,
with a little knob for the head, must be pushed through the
small circle, and securely fastened to it (a large rose will
require a wire within the leather stem) ; and the other cir-
cles must be pushed up in their turn, observing that every


petal is placed behind and between the two front ones, and
glued on to the inner circles. Finish the flower by attach-
ing the calyx and seed-pod to it. It is well to cut out the
leaves in the spray. No. 4 is a middle-sized rose-leaf. Buds
are made by a circle of five or three small petals glued to-
gether, and placed within a calyx and seed-pod ; thorns, by
cutting out little triangular pieces of leather, doubling, and
pinching them into shape, and gluing them to the flower-

Rose-petals. 2. Calyx. 3. Seed-pod. 4. Leaf.

The small double roses are done exactly in the same man-
ner, with smaller petals, leaves, and stems. All the pieces
composing the spray should be carefully pared at the edges,
so that the leather may be much thinner there. The single
roses have only one circle of five petals (which should be
veined from the real petal, and hollowed into shape), and a
bunch of stamens in the centre of the flower. These are
made in the same manner as the stamens in wax roses, cut
out in a strip of skiver, and rolled and curled by the fingers,
and, when dry, rolled round the top of the stalk, and glued
neatly to it. The calyx and seed-pod are, of course, the



same as for the double roses, and the buds are made in same

Very pretty effects may be produced in this way. But
there are better uses for leather, which is much more really
decorative when simply embossed, or used to imitate fret-
work carving, as in the cuts below.

For these designs, cut out two pieces of the required
shape, as, for instance, Fig. i, and glue them together, so
as to present two smooth surfaces. When quite dry, the
piece thus made must be laid on a board, and the ornament
formed, by cutting out the pieces, which would be sawed
away in wood-carving, by gouges and chisels of various sizes.
These must be held upright in the hand, and the pattern
stamped out according to the thin cardboard pattern, which
should be laid upon the leather. The gouges used should
exactly fit the curves of the pattern, so as to cut it clean.


Brackets are made by gluing a number of pieces prepared
thus together, over a foundation of wood, and ornamenting
them with squares, rounds, and ovals, and mouldings cut
out in the same way, and arranged to form an architectural

Mr. Charles Godfrey Leland, whose name is now synony-


mous, with the best work of industrial art schools in this
country, has given some suggestions for the use of old tin
cans, which have been practically tested, and found to give
results which are astonishingly effective, as well as very
durable; the articles bearing rough usage, and constantly
improving in color.


"When any one has a slight knowledge of drawing, or
even the faculty of selecting and simply tracing patterns, it
is an easy matter to adorn a house cheaply and tastefully, or
to make many objects which will meet with a ready sale. For
many years I have made a study of adapting to the use of
the decorative arts objects which have been generally wasted,
and I am now almost convinced that there is hardly any thing
which is not to be turned to account. Nature, strangely
enough, always gives two useful qualities to every thing.

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 19 of 28)