Helen Campbell.

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

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of your design in going round them. This grounding is the
only work in carving which necessitates any considerable
exertion : you will therefore find it pleasanter, generally, to
have two or more pieces of wood-carving on hand at the same
time, in different stages of workmanship ; so that you need
not overtire yourself by doing all the hard work at once.

The grounding being done, the formation of the stalks
and leaves next engrosses our attention. The stalk must
not have the same amount of projection in every part. In
nature, the stalk is much thicker at A than at B ; and your
carving must imitate nature as closely as possible. The sur-
faces of the leaves are rounded, and have a downward slope


towards the edges. The leaves C, D, and E, lie above the
stalk, and must therefore project over it ; while the leaf F
lies under the stalk, and must therefore have a much slighter
projection. The stalk should be rounded, but left rather
rough, in order to preserve a natural appearance. Where
one stem passes over the other, G and H, a clear distinction
between each stem must be observed ; and yet the under stem
must not be cut away or depressed in an abrupt manner.
To avoid this, begin your line of slope sufficiently far back,
and cut away the wood equally on each side of the under

Try not to make a number of tiny cuts or stabs with your
tools, but take as long a cut as the nature of your design will
allow. The power given by being able to make long cuts
can scarcely be over-rated ; the work thus done having a
smooth and flowing appearance, and no glass-paper being
wanted in order to level its surface afterwards. For small
details, where long cuts are impossible, the riffler, which has
been already mentioned, is useful. A gouge with a some-
what flat edge is well fitted for forming the leaves and
stalks ; but beginners will probably find that at first they
will be able to use the corner-chisel with greater ease. The
centre veins, or midribs, of the leaves, should now be carved,
and may be either incised or left raised. Use the parting or
veining tool for this. For incision, cut double lines from
the stem, and allow these to converge until they quite meet
at the tips of the leaves (see illustration). Then cut the
side veins in single lines, keeping them clear and sharp.
None of your incisions should be deep. If you prefer to
have the centre veins raised, instead of incised, take the
macaroni, and with its aid remove the wood on each side
of the vein, sloping the tool slightly towards the vein, but
not so as to undercut your work to any appreciable extent.


Never use greater force than is absolutely necessary to de-
tach the chips, else you will splinter or hurt the surrounding
wood, which, it is well to bear in mind, is always strongest
in the direction of its fibre. Remember, also, that it is far
better to cut away too little wood than too much : the former
defect is easily remedied, not so the latter. If your work is
uneven, very fine glass-paper may be used for smoothing it.
Either glue it on narrow strips of wood, and use it as a
file, or rub the surface of your work with a loose piece of
glass-paper. But it is far better not to have recourse to this
process, if you can manage to get your carving sufficiently
smooth without it. Anyhow, it should be done at the very
last, when the cutting is quite finished, as tiny particles of
the glass often remain on the wood, and these would entirely
spoil the edges of any tools they come in contact with.

Try to avoid stiffness throughout your whole work, and to
keep, as far as possible, a natural and therefore a graceful
appearance. Do you require designs for your carving ? Na-
ture is a vast storehouse ; and the nearer and more exactly
you copy her in her rounded forms and flowing curves, so
much the more truly artistic will your work be. Foliage,
flowers, birds, fruit, are within the reach of all, and will
provide an endless variety of designs. But you must use
judgment and observation in choosing nature's best speci-
mens : it would be fully as unwise to make choice of de-
formed leaves, or twigs with unnatural bends, to copy from,
as it would be for an artist to represent a deformed person
or child as his ideal of beauty. Not many days ago I was at
a school of art where two classes were employed in design-
ing from nature, the pupils having each brought a flower or
piece of foliage with them. Some half-dozen were engaged
in drawing from sprays of horse-chestnut. In no less than
three of these the leaves were deformed, and they were,


therefore, as the lady teacher pointed out, worse than use-
less as models. In order to gain a good conception of the
way in which your leaves, fruit, or stalks, will overlie each
other, and also of the different amount of projection re-
quired in the several parts of your work, you would find it
very useful to have a lump of modelling-wax at hand where-
with first to model your design.

Good photographs of carving or sculpture also are pleasant
to work from, as they give a very fair idea of roundness and

I have said nothing about the bow-saw and the buhl-saw,
as neither is required for any ordinary carving. The for-
mer is used for shaping blocks of wood, and for outlining in
very solid pieces of carving ; while the latter is only neces-
sary when the work done is a sort of combination of fret-
work and carving.

The best light for carving, as for all sorts of painting and
drawing, is a northern one. But all that you need really
care about is to have a good light in front of you when you
are working. This is a matter of some consequence, as
carving that looks quite smooth and finished when seen in
one light will look quite rough when held in another.

Finished carving is often varnished, oiled, stained, or pol
ished ; but these processes should only be resorted to when
you believe that they will perfect your carving, either by
bringing out the beauty of the grain, or the color of the
material employed. Oak or walnut is generally merely
oiled with linseed-oil, and, after the lapse of two or three
days, brushed with a stiff bristle-brush, unless the carving
is too delicate to admit of this operation. Too much oil must
not be applied, else the work will assume a greasy or shiny
appearance. Boxwood should be washed over with the
strongest possible aquafortis, and in a few minutes' time


(when its color is sufficiently dark) be plunged into cold
water. When dry, brush it over with a stiff brush.

Bichromate of potash diluted with water for hard woods,
and walnut stain made without oil and diluted with water
for lime and other light woods, are in very general use. It
is as well to try these stains on pieces of waste wood in
order to test their strength. They should be applied with a
small brush to the carvings, care being taken not to go over
the same place twice.

Polishing is not a clean or pleasant occupation, but it cer-
tainly does add to the effect of some works. The flat sur-
faces in the carvings to be polished ought to be perfectly
smooth, as every little scratch or unevenness will be distinctly
visible after the polishing process. White or transparent
polish is used for light or black ; French polish, for brown
woods. Soak some tow, cotton-wool, or wadding in the
polish to be used : make it into a pad by putting it into a
piece of soft linen, and drop a little linseed-oil on the pad ;
this will enable the pad to pass easily over the wood. The
pad should only feel slightly " sticky ; " but very little oil
being used, as this has a tendency to deaden the polish.
Use the pad with a circular motion, re-wetting it, when
necessary, with the polish and oil. About three coats of
polish are generally required, the carving being allowed to
dry thoroughly between each.

To conclude: "Practice is better than precept" is very
true of wood-carving : and though, perhaps, at first you may
undertake it merely as a means of filling up your leisure
hours, yet perseverance in it will bring in its train real
enjoyment ; partly from the better acquaintance you will
have with Nature's handiwork, from which you have sought
the originals of your designs ; partly, also, in the pleasure it
will enable you to give to others. Are not presents with


"histories" attached to them far more valuable to our friends
than things bought ready-made ? And is it too much to say,
that a piece of wood-carving is our " petrified " or consoli-
dated thought ? For is not our conception, and the fulfil-
ment of that conception, written plainly in every leaf and
flower ?




NOTHING yields better returns, either in health and vigor,
or in money, to a girl living out of town, than the culture of
small fruits : of these, strawberries are, in many respects, the
most desirable. To begin with, she needs but little capital ;
but she must have a love of outdoor life, energy, application,
and the determination to succeed.

If she can have the use of a plot of ground, say an eighth
or a quarter of an acre, or less, and can get it rightly pre-
pared, with sufficient plants for the bed, she has, with the aid
of those qualities first named, all the real elements of suc-
cess. In the latitude of New York or Philadelphia the land
is apt to be sandy or loamy, and gives, when well cared for,
large, sweet, and abundant fruit.

We will suppose our maiden to have at command an
eighth of an acre of good soil (moist, but not too wet or low),
and near the house. She will, about the middle of August,
have it spread thick with a large load of old, well-rotted
stable-manure : if possible, a little muck or wood-ashes must
be mixed with this. When the ground is suitably dry, it
must be ploughed and harrowed ; and, having secured her
roots, she will at once set to work.

How many plants will be needed? That is easily com-
puted. We remember that there are 43,560 square feet in
an acre : this, divided by the number of square feet occupied
by each plant, will give the exact sum required to cover a


single acre. For instance, strawberries are set out in rows,
generally three feet apart one way, and one foot the other ;
so that each root occupies three square feet. Take three,
then, as the divisor of 43,560, and we have the quotient
which will be ample for the acre of 14,520. One-eighth
of this gives 1,815, the number of berry-roots required for
our plot.

But we must first settle on the variety, a hard choice
where there are so many favorites. If the market is close
at hand (and it ought to be for young managers and small
beds), a softer, sweeter kind can be raised than when they
are to be sent to a distance. The .Crescent Seedling, Seth
Boyden, Jocunda, Sharpless, Charles Downing, and the new
James Vick, are all excellent, as are many others.

The roots ought to be brought from the nursery just be-
fore setting out : if not, they can be kept damp by sprin-
kling. On no account must they be left to dry.

After the ground is marked lengthwise into furrows, the
plants can easily be set out regularly, with the^aid of a stick
marked into lengths of a foot each. This should be just
before night, or before a shower, to avoid a scorching sun.
With a garden-trowel dig a cavity in the ground ; spread out
the little roots within it very carefully ; fill in the earth
lightly but closely, and press hard about the stems. This is
soon finished. It is desirable that the bed should be well
watered every night until it rains, after which they will no
longer need that care.

In about a week, with a small rake there are all sorts
of light tools for just such purposes in hardware stores
scratch the surface of the earth between the rows gently,
but do not disturb the roots ; and keep the bed free from
weeds until cold weather.

At the time heavy frosts appear, in November, rake up


from the nearest clump of trees sufficient dead leaves for
winter blankets for the young vines, underneath which they
will sleep quietly till spring, especially if pains be taken to
press them down, though not too tightly, by means of boards
and brush. Not only does this protect them from thawing
and freezing, but the leaf-mould is excellent nourishment for
the plants. If more convenient, use straw or refuse hay.

By the first of the next April, all this must be removed.
The leaves or straw may be raked between the wide rows to
serve for mulching. By it the berries are kept from beating
into the dirt by rain. If the ground is not well covered,
more straw must be usepl ; and every weed that dares show
its head must be pulled. As little runners creep out on this
side and that, pinch them off ; so that the entire strength of
the plant may be kept to nourish its luscious fruit.

The reward for this care will soon appear in starlike blos-
soms, which quickly change into green berries, ripening
under the glowing heat of the sun. It is a wonderful trans-
formation scene, and good mother Nature is the enchantress.
And, the more we study her methods of working, the greater
will be our admiration and delight.

By the last week of May, fragrant crimson cones will be
ready to melt in the mouth, while busy fingers gather in the
delicious harvest. Of course no one will be allowed to enter
this choice plot who is not careful about stepping on vines
and leaves, or who injures them by flowing skirts, and no
child with soiled fingers will be permitted to mar one of these
perishable beauties. When possible, too, the fruit must be
picked in the cool of the day, just before twilight.

After the picking season is over, the bed still needs to be
kept free from runners and weeds. If you wish new plants
for another bed, however, you have only to let the runners
grow, and when they take root (as they will in a few weeks),


cut the connection between the new plant and the parent
stem. If properly managed, the original bed will remain
good for four years. Every fall it ought to be spaded, and
manure should be mixed with the earth. This must be old,
from the stable ; or it may be wood-ashes or ground bone.
The plant consumes a great deal of what we call waste
material, but which is rich in substances, that, by some mys-
terious process, it converts into fruit.

For such a small plot, little help will be required in picking
berries, and none in cultivation, after the ground is once in
order, and the annual spading is done.

And what should be the result ?

First, a deal of health, strength, and happiness, with a new
knowledge of the habits of plants and of the laws of nature.

In regard to pecuniary profit, some report as high as six,
seven, or eight hundred dollars an acre ; but that is had
only by the most successful gardeners during fine seasons,
when all conditions are nearly perfect. The ordinary culti-
vation must not begin with great expectations, and end with
bitter disgust. Intelligence and faithful work will be sure
to give due reward. Add to the cash account a great deal
of enjoyment, some practical knowledge of gardening, and a
glad sense of having done something useful, and done it well.

The record of an average year will be something like this,
varying, of course, according to the richness of the soil, its
cultivation, and the season. The price is subject to change


To ploughing, harrowing, and laying out one-eighth an acre . $1.00

** manure 3.00

" 1,815 plants at $4.50 per thousand 8.16

" tools, rake, hoe, trowel, etc i.oo

Total . $13.16


On the other hand :

587 quarts of berries at 14 cents per quart $82.18

Leaving a clear gain of $69.02 for our young gardener.

No expense of picking fruit, of small baskets to hold them
if sent to a distance, or commission on sales, need be given
for so small a plot. If the size be increased so these are
needed, then we may calculate to pay at the rate of a cent
and a half each for baskets, and about two cents per quart
for picking.

It is possible to bring up the yield much higher than is
given above, but this is more practicable on a small bed than
in a large one. Profits cannot increase in proportion to the
increase of land cultivated ; since one alone cannot give
the same close attention and care, more help being necessary
for the larger plot. At all events, when a girl finds herself
with little to do, and has a desire to increase her pocket-
money and sense of independence, here is an avenue, and a
pleasant one, to a field of labor certain of bringing re-




FOR all these small fruits the ground must be thoroughly
prepared as for strawberries. Manure must not be spared,
and the soil for raspberries should be thoroughly drained if
possible. Currants need moisture and shade, as they are
natives of cold, damp climates. Indeed, they do not flourish
farther south than the Middle States.

It must also be remembered that they do not bear till the
second season after transplanting, even when the roots are
two years old. But they will last, if well cultivated, nearly
or quite twenty years.

The land must be made very rich for this fruit : indeed, it
bears coarser nourishment than strawberries. They are to
be set out in October, in rows five feet one way by four the
other, when the ground is ready. There is no reason why
this may not be done by our maiden, since the work is not
heavy. They need to be set deep and firm, and a small
spade will be necessary here.

After all are set, pruning must not be forgotten. By tak-
ing a knife made for such uses, and going over the field, we
shall find it needful to cut back the branches nearly one-half
their length, taking off long, slender ones, so as to compel the
bush to keep round and compact. As in the case of straw-
berries, the trimmed bushes direct their juices then to fruit,
instead of growth.

The next spring the ground should be ploughed, and after


that kept free from weeds ; and July of the second season
will see the reward of your labors.

For this fruit there is always demand. It is easy to pick,
and does not readily spoil. But we must not forget to keep
the bushes clipped back and trimmed to about ten stems on
each, and to see that they are free from weeds, and heavily
manured. When bearing, they may be mulched, like straw-
berries, and muck or leaf-mould applied close about each hill.

In regard to varieties, the Red Dutch, Cherry, and White
Grape will be found satisfactory. Allowing 2,178 bushes
to the acre, according to the rule we used in finding the
number of strawberry-plants (dividing 43,560 square feet by
the twenty square feet occupied by each bush), we shall need
two hundred and seventy bushes to our eighth of an acre.
The result ought to be something like this :


To ploughing and harrowing $1.00

" manure 3.00

" tools 1.50

" 270 bushes, two years old, at $35 per thousand . . . 9.45
" ploughing the next spring 75

Total $15.70

On the other side :


By 1,580 pounds of currants at 6 cents per pound . . . $94.80

Leaving a net profit of $79.10, beside a fine lot of bushes
in full bearing. This is subject to the expenses of picking,
and, when not sold near at hand, of marketing and commis-

Raspberries need the same preparation of ground that has
been described for other small fruits. They are to be set


out in October, in hills seven feet by two, giving 3,110 to the
acre, and, of course, 375 for an eighth as much ground. For
the black-cap, the Doolittle Improved is always excellent :
for the red raspberry, the Turner and Cuthbert are justly
favorites. The latter ripens nearly two weeks later than the
former, thus lengthening the fruit-season.

By planting these in a hedge, and pinching off the tops in
the spring, when they have reached the height of three or
four feet, they do not require staking. For a girl to handle,
however, they are much more convenient when planted in
rows, about five feet apart, giving only 278 to our bed, and
tying them, near the tops, to stout stakes with twine or wire.
They are still kept low, and the canes thinned to about five
or six in each hill, always taking out the old growth either in
March or November, as the new wood alone bears fruit.

Result in ordinary cases :


To ploughing, manure, etc $4.00

" raspberry-bushes 2.75

" stakes, wire or twine, and labor of setting and tying . . 5.00

The profits are very variable, depending on cost of pick-
ing, as well as price which the berries may bring in the place.
We may estimate this, however, as a bush in good bearing
ought to give three quarts of berries at least.


By 834 quarts of fruit at 1 1 cents per quart $91.74

from which deduct the expenses of marketing, added to


Manurihg is not needed so frequently as in strawberries


or currants, but the trimming and cutting must be constant
and careful.

Blackberries are to be treated, in general management,
like raspberries. They require, however, to be set farther
apart. Eight feet by two or three is the right distance,
giving 340 for the eighth of an acre. The Kittatinny is gen-
erally considered the best of all. They should be trimmed,
and kept at a height of about four feet, and, when practi-
cable, staked and tied.

The blackberry thrives on poorer soil than any other of
the small fruits, but shows good feeding by its increased
size and juciness. The estimates of cost and gain will not
differ from those made of raspberries. They are very hardy,
and easy to manage if kept closely trimmed, and continue
to flourish for many years.




OUR maiden who has successfully raised a bed of small
fruits will desire to can or preserve any excess of them,
either for home use, or to furnish herself with pin-money.
The process is easily learned, and is something in which the
true housewife takes great pride and pleasure.

To begin with, every thing about the implements of can-
ning fruit or making jelly should be immaculately neat, and
ready for use. Glass cans and tumblers should be freshly
scalded, after pouring in a little cold water, with the elastics
and tops fitted, and each laid with its jar. Large wooden
spoons should be provided, and porcelain kettles freshly
scoured. Use no tin, except a quart cup for measuring
sugar : in this weigh one pound of it, and you will always
know then just how full it needs to be. Weigh your kettles
first without fruit, afterwards take that amount from the
entire weight. If you begin with jelly, you will pick the cur-
rants some dry morning just as soon as they ripen : if possi-
ble, take the same or twice the quantity of raspberries, to
soften the sharp flavor of the currants. Stem the latter.
Throw both into your kettle, and boil till soft, breaking the
fruit with a spoon ; squeeze, a quart at a time, gently through
a crash bag, which must be turned and rinsed after each fill-
ing. To every pint of this juice allow one pound of nice
white sugar, which spread out in shallow tin dishes on the
back of the stove, or in the open oven. This you stir while


it -heats, at the same time watching the juice, which you have
put back into a clean kettle, skimming as it heats : when this
has boiled just twenty minutes, and the sugar has grown very
hot, turn the last into the juice quickly, and stir rapidly to-
gether. When the sugar has all melted, and the compound
is just ready to boil, but has not really begun, take from the
fire. Meanwhile, on a near table is a large pan in which are
your jars or tumblers filled with very hot water, and sur-
rounded by it also : between this and the jelly-kettle is a
large plate. Empty one of your tumblers, and fill with the
hot liquid at once ; set on a platter in the window, and con-
tinue in the same way. If you have done every step as
described, the jelly will form as it cools. If you prefer,
Mason's jars can be used : these may need to stand open in

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 23 of 28)