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Title: A manual of Mending and Repairing with diagrams
Author: Charles Godfrey Leland
Release Date: April 8, 2020 [EBook #61786]
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A MANUAL OF
MENDING AND REPAIRING
CHARLES GODFREY LELAND
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY.
BURR PRINTING HOUSE, FRANKFORT AND JACOB STS., N. Y.
MATERIALS USED IN MENDING 1-11
MENDING BROKEN CHINA, PORCELAIN, CROCKERY, MAJOLICA,
TERRA-COTTA, BRICK AND TILE WORK 12-32
MENDING GLASS, TOGETHER WITH SEVERAL ALLIED PROCESSES:
APPROVED CEMENTS--SILICATE OF SODA 33-49
WOOD-SHAVINGS IN MENDING AND MAKING MANY OBJECTS--ORNAMENTAL
WORK OF SHAVINGS--MARQUETRY--REPAIRING
PANEL PICTURES WITH SHAVINGS 50-57
REPAIRING WOODWORK 58-85
ON REPAIRING AND RESTORING BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS, AND
PAPERS, WITH DIRECTIONS FOR EASY BINDING AND
PAPER-MENDING--BOOK-WORMS--THE RAVAGES OF
PAPIER-MÂCHÉ: REPAIRING TOYS--MAKING GROUNDS FOR
PICTURES AND WALLS--CARTON-CUIR AND CARTON-PIERRE 121-133
MENDING STONE-WORK: MOSAICS--CERESA-WORK--PORCELAIN
OR CROCKERY MOSAIC 134-142
REPAIRING IVORY 143-155
REPAIRING AMBER: HOW TO PERFECTLY RE-JOIN BROKEN
AMBER, AND TO IMITATE IT--HOW TO MELT AMBER IN
FRAGMENTS TO A SINGLE BODY 156-158
INDIARUBBER AND GUTTA-PERCHA: MENDING INDIARUBBER
SHOES AND MAKING GARMENTS WATERPROOF, WITH
OTHER APPLICATIONS 159-168
MENDING METAL-WORK OR REPAIRING BY MEANS OF IT:
FIREPROOF CEMENTS, WITH IRON BINDERS 169-182
REPAIRING LEATHER-WORK: TRUNKS, SHOES, OR IN ANY
OTHER FORMS--JOINING STRAPS--MAKING CHEAP
TO MEND HATS, BLANKETS, AND SIMILAR FABRICS BY
INVISIBLE MENDING OF GARMENTS, LACES, OR EMBROIDERIES 202-205
MENDING MOTHER-OF-PEARL AND CORAL 206-209
RESTORING AND REPAIRING PICTURES 210-230
GENERAL RECIPES 231-253
The author of this work modestly trusts that all who read it with
care will admit that in it he has distinctly shown that mending or
repairing, which has hitherto been regarded as a mere adjunct to other
arts, is really an art by itself, if not a science, since it is based
on chemical and other principles, which admit of extensive application
and general combination. It has its _laws_--a fact which has never been
hinted at by any writer, since all recipes for restoration in existence
are each singly inventions made to suit certain cases. This work has
been conceived on a different principle.
A thorough knowledge of this art of repairing, mending, or restoring
various objects is of very great value, since there is no household
in which it is not often called into requisition. In the kitchen or
drawing-room, in the library and nursery, there are daily breakages,
of which a large and needless proportion are losses, simply because
such a man as a general mender, who is accomplished in _all_ branches
of the art, does not exist. And, what is more, it is equally true that
no one has ever realised to what a vast extent mending and saving may
be carried, with a little expenditure of time, practice, and money,
by any intelligent person who will devote serious attention to it.
Within a comparatively few years discoveries in science or in nature
have enlarged the ability of the mender to an extraordinary extent--I
need only mention the applications now made with silicate of soda,
celluloid, gutta percha, and glycerine to confirm what I say--so
largely, indeed, that only the accomplished technologist and chemist
is really aware of what can be done in general repairing compared to
what was possible only a few years ago. I believe that there are few
thoroughly practical persons (and, I may add, few who take an interest
in art in any form, or even in books) who will read this work without
deep interest, and without acquiring information of such value that in
comparison to it the cost of the book will seem a trifle.
Though mending or restoring is a subject which in some form comes
home to and concerns everybody, and which it is assuredly everybody’s
interest to understand, this is, I believe, the first book in which
its application to a _great_ variety of wants has been made, and that
in such a clearly co-ordinated manner, and according to such a simple
principle, that whoever reads it can have no difficulty in mending any
object, even though it be not described here. In all works of the kind
which I have seen the recipes for repairing have been given simply
according to their _subjects_, without any view to general principles
of application, and a great proportion of these were in turn simply
copied from old books of miscellaneous “receipts,” or newspapers in
which every so-called new discovery is announced as infallible, or
as if it had been tried and tested to perfection. That I have not
recklessly accumulated in this fashion all kinds of _recipes_ to fill
my pages will appear very plainly to every chemist or technologist,
who will perceive that, proceeding from a comprehensive table of
generally recognised and long-tested bases of cements, I have given
deductions and combinations scientifically agreeing with their laws and
with experiment. The true object of giving a great number of recipes
has not been solely or simply to supply the house-keeper or mechanic
with instructions for certain repairs, but also to suggest to the
technologist and inventor new ideas and applications. Thus, when we
know that given proportions of zinc in powder, silicate of soda, and
chalk form a strong cement, resembling zinc, it is as well to suggest
that this may be varied by employing other metals and substances, such
as bronze-powders and mineral oxides, to be always preceded by a little
experiment. I venture to say that any intelligent person who masters
this work can, on this hint, make for himself innumerable inventions;
and I am sure that there is not the editor of a single technological
journal who will not testify to the fact that every year a great many
patents are taken out and fortunes made from recipes which are neither
so scientifically combined nor practically useful as those which I here
give. That there are fortunes still to be made is abundantly proved by
the fact that there are very few people, comparatively speaking, who
know where to get or how to make waterproof glue, or how to mend with
it, neatly and durably, shoes, umbrellas, and many rents in garments;
how to unite a broken strap; mend, by felting, torn hats; rehabilitate
perfectly worm-eaten and torn-away paper; restore decayed broken wood;
or mend, in fact, anything except with common glue or mucilage--both
of which soon give way and crack or melt. So long as such general
ignorance prevails, just so long there will be an opportunity for
the inventor to make and sell cements, and for the repairer to find
I call special attention to the fact that this book contains no merely
traditional, untested recipes which have been simply transferred from
one Housekeeper’s Manual to another for generations. Where I have not
been guided by my own personal experience--which is, I venture to say,
not very limited--I have either followed truly scientific works, such
as the three hundred volumes of the Chemical-Technical Library of A.
HARTLEBEN; or, when citing from older authors, have invariably given
recipes which agree with the principles advanced by modern analysts and
inventors. And though not a professor of chemistry, yet, as I studied
it and natural philosophy in my youth under LEOPOLD GMELIN, L. PASSELT,
and Professor JOSEPH HENRY, I trust that I have been sufficiently
qualified to avoid errors in what I have written. In short, that I
have _not_ recklessly accumulated every recipe which I could find, and
that what I give are really trustworthy, will appear plainly to the
chemist or technologist, who will perceive that, proceeding from a
given table of generally recognised and long-tested bases of cements,
&c., I have then given deductions and combinations scientifically
agreeing with their laws and with experiment. My book is not a _pièce
de manufacture_, or of hack-work, but one which is the result of
many years of practical experience in the minor arts and industries,
on which subject alone I have published twenty-two works, without
including pamphlets, lectures, and at least one hundred letters or
articles in leading magazines and newspapers. There is, in short, very
little mending or making described in this book which I have not at one
time or other personally effected, having had all my life a passion for
mending and restoring all kinds of objects, and that scientifically and
As I have observed, there is in every household continual breakage
of many kinds--“or of the rending which cries for mending”--it is
a matter of some importance that some one in the family should pay
special attention to such matters. How often have I seen very valuable
objects stuck together--anyhow and clumsily--with putty, wafers,
sealing-wax, glue, flour-paste, or anything which will “hold” for a
time, when a perfect cure might have just as well been effected had the
proper recipe been taken to the first chemist. This is equally true as
regards taking ink or stains out of garments, or repairing the latter
perfectly, or mending shoes or indiarubber cloth, or felting worn hats
and many other articles, all of which are treated of in this work.
It is true that everybody is not naturally ingenious, or clever, or
gifted, but all may become _skilful menders_ if they will duly consider
the subject (which requires no hard study) and experiment on it a
little. And here I would seriously address a few words to all who are
interested in education. There is a certain faculty which may be called
constructiveness, which is nearly allied to invention, and which is
a marvellous developer in all children of quickness of perception,
thought, or intellect. It is the art of using the fingers to make or
manipulate, in any way; it exists in every human being, and it may
be brought out to an extraordinary degree in the young, as has been
fully tested and proved. Now, if we take two children of the same age,
sex, and capacity, both going to the same school and pursuing the same
studies, and if one of the two devotes from two to four hours a week
to an industrial art class (_i.e._, studying simple original _design_,
easy wood-carving, repoussé, embroidery, &c.), it will be found--as it
has been by very extensive experiment--that the latter child will at
the end of the year excel the former in _all_ branches of learning;
that is to say, in arithmetic or geography, so greatly does ingenuity
proceed from the fingers to the brain. Now, mending is so nearly allied
to all the minor or mechanical arts, it enters into them so closely,
that it in a manner belongs to and is an introduction to them all.
Like them, it stimulates invention or ingenuity, and is perhaps of far
greater practical utility or direct use. Boys and girls learn very
willingly how to mend, and, from a long experience in teaching them,
I should say that a class with experiments and practical instruction
in what is given in this book should take precedence of all carpentry,
metal-work, joining, leather-work, or any other branches whatever. For
it is _easier_ than any of them, and it is of far more general utility,
as the following pages clearly show. Such teaching would cost next to
nothing for outfit, and would be the best introduction to technical
education of all kinds.
There is an immense amount of breakage in this world, yet, as a French
writer on the subject observes, there are more great artists than good
_menders_; the latter being so extremely rare that proofs of it are
seen in bungling restorations in every museum in Europe, and in the
almost impossibility of finding (out of Italy) men who can perfectly
mend first-class ceramic ware. We see this ignorance in reproductions
of delicate ivory ware coarsely cast in gypsum, and in a vast rejection
and destruction of antiquities in wood, stone, or ceramic ware, simply
because they are most ignorantly supposed to be beyond repair when they
might, with _proper knowledge_, be very easily and cheaply restored,
to great profit. And if the reader will visit the “dead rooms” of
any museum in Europe and then study this book, he will find ample
confirmation of what I say.
And here I would mention that every collector or owner of any kind of
works of art, of _bric-à-brac_, or curiosities, who will master the art
of mending, can find an illimitable field for picking up bargains in
almost every shop of antiquities in Europe, especially in the smaller
or humbler kind. For it is very far from being true that these dealers
know “how to mend everything;” on the contrary, I have often found
them very ignorant indeed of mending, and have frequently instructed
them in it. Thus I now have before me a “Holy Family” of the early
sixteenth century, bas-relief in stamped leather, twelve inches by
eight, for which I paid two francs, but which I might have had for
one, it being utterly dilapidated, and apparently of no value. In two
or three hours I restored it perfectly, and it would now sell for
perhaps a hundred francs. By it hangs a “Madonna and Child,” painted
on a panel, gold ground, fourteenth century, which, including a very
broad and remarkable old frame, I purchased both for twelve francs.
The panel was warped like a sabre, [Illustration], the colour and
_gesso_ ground badly scaled away in many places. It was split in two
pieces; in short, it appeared to be nearly worthless. Now it is in very
good condition, and would be an ornament to any gallery. As regards
repairing ceramic ware or china, glass, and porcelain, art has of late
years made remarkable advances, this kind of mending being the most in
requisition. As for old carved wood, no matter how badly broken it may
be, eaten away by worms, or rotten, or even wanting large pieces, so
long as its original form is evident, it can be _very easily_ repaired
or restored to all its original beauty and integrity, as I shall
fully explain. In this alone there is a vast field for investment or
money-making, because there are annually destroyed almost everywhere
quantities of old wood-carvings; for, being badly worm-eaten, they are
ignorantly supposed to be irreparable. The same may be said of ancient
carved ivories, which are ready to drop at a touch into dust, as were
those from Nineveh in the British Museum, yet which are now firm and
clear. It is also true of the bindings of old books, many of marvellous
beauty, whether of stamped leather, parchment, or carved. Even more
interesting and curious is the repairing or restoring worm-eaten
manuscripts or papers of any kind, or parchment, the easy process of
filling the holes not being known to many bibliophiles. This art is
becoming known in Germany, where it is not unusual to buy an old book
for a mark, rebind it in hard old parchment, repair it generally for
two or three, and then sell it, according to the subject, for several
hundred or thousand per cent. profit.
It is greatly to be regretted that it is so little known, especially
in England, that to repair a few holes or restore a little broken,
crumbling carving it is not absolutely necessary to tear down an entire
Gothic church and build a new one, as is so very generally the case.
There is no stone-work, however dilapidated it may be, which cannot be
mended very perfectly, and that in almost all cases with a material
which sets even harder than the original, as was perfectly shown at the
Paris Exhibition of 1889. Dilapidated stone carved work, of all ages
and kinds, which could be perfectly restored to a degree which even
very few artists suspect, abounds in Italy, where it can be purchased
for a song. The song, it is true, is generally sung to a small silver
accompaniment, but the purchaser may make it golden for himself. For
very few know how to restore a knocked-off nose so that the line of
juncture be not visible; yet even this is possible, as I shall show.
And I may here remark that in all the first galleries and museums of
Europe, without one exception, there is abundant evidence to prove
that, of all the arts, the one of repairing and restoring is the one
least understood and most strangely neglected.
There is hardly a village so small that one man or woman could not make
in it or eke out a living by repairing different objects. In towns and
cities the demand for such work is much greater, for there ladies break
expensive fans and jewellery, and children their dolls and toys, for
mending of which the “rehabilitators” require “much moneys,” especially
in the United States, where prices for anything out of the way are
I would therefore beg all people who are gifted with some small
allowance of “ingenuity,” tact, art, or common-sense to consider that
Mending or Restoring is a calling very easily learned by a little
practice, and one by which a living can be made, even in its humblest
branches, as is shown by the umbrella-menders and chair-caners in the
streets. But common-sense teaches that any one who shall have mastered
all that is explicitly set forth in this book ought certainly to be
able to gain money, even largely; for, as I said, the opportunities
of purchasing dilapidated works of art, mending and selling them,
are innumerable, and Restoration is as yet everywhere in its mere
rudiments and very little practised. That which might be a very great
general industry of vast utility, employing many thousands now idle,
only exists in a hap-hazard, casual way, as dependent on other kinds
of work. But to me it appears as a great art by itself, dependent on
certain principles of general application. And when we consider what
is generally wasted for want of proper knowledge of this great art, it
seems to me to be but rational that if we had in London a school for
teaching mending and restoring in all its branches as a trade, with a
museum to show the public, probably to its great astonishment, what
marvels can be wrought by renewing what is old, it would be of great
service to the country at large. A very little reflection will convince
the least visionary or most practical reader that what is wasted or
annually destroyed of valuable old works, which cannot be replaced,
because they are no longer manufactured, if restored, would form the
basis of a great national industry. It has not as yet, however, entered
into the head of any one to conceive this, simply because no one has
ever been educated as a general restorer, but only in a secondary,
supplementary, small way as a specialist, generally as a botcher. And
I maintain, from no inconsiderable knowledge of the subject, that
the best menders and restorers by far are those who understand the
most branches of their calling. The reason for this is plain; it is
because a repairer, when he comes to some unforeseen difficulty--for
example, in mending china--and finds the cements used are not exactly
applicable, he will, if sensible, think of some other adhesive used in
other kinds of work, or other combinations or appliances.
I go so far as to say that an exhibition of specimens showing all that
can be done in mending and restoration in ceramic art, leather, carved
stone, books, carved and wrought wood, castings, metal, furniture,
fans, and toys, would probably serve as sufficient beginning to
establish classes and a school. The objects should, when possible, be
accompanied by a duplicate or photograph showing the condition they
were in before restoration, on the principle of the picture-cleaners,
who amaze the public with such startling contrasts of dirt and
How this can all be done will be found in this book, which I venture
to suggest will often be found useful in every family, or wherever
“things” are broken and worn. For the collector of curiosities who
would willingly pick up bargains, I seriously and earnestly commend it
as a _vade mecum_ by means of which he may literally make money in any
shop. For, as I have already said, strange as it may seem, the small
dealers in _bric-à-brac_ are generally very ignorant of all the curious
secrets of restoration, or else they have no time or means to attend to
such work. Again, if the collector has learned what I here teach, he
will often detect restoration allied to forgery in expensive antiques,
guaranteed to be perfect. It has been well observed by M. RIS-PAQUOT,
in his valuable work, _L’Art de restaurer soi-même les Faïences et
Porcelaines_, that it often happens, most unfortunately, that precious
relics whose value is immense, such as the Italian _faïences_ and those
of Palissy or Henri II., come to collections in such a condition, so
pitifully injured, that _de visu_ we cannot buy them because we know
of nobody who can actually restore them, and because this delicate
work requires so much special knowledge. Add to this, that their
great value and rarity disincline us to trust to the first-comer, or
general workman, treasures which he might utterly ruin by clumsiness or
I may add that I seldom walk out in Florence without seeing old worn
_faïences_ for sale for a mere trifle which with a little retouching,
gilding, and firing could be made quite valuable. In such instances
there need be no complaint of destroying the venerable effect and value
of antiquity. In them antique material may be legitimately employed as
a basis for newer work, especially when it is broken away, worn down
to the core, or full of holes. Now, with what this book teaches in his
mind, the artist or tourist will very soon realise, if he be at all
ingenious, or can avail himself of the aid of some friend who has even
a very slight knowledge of art, that he can at a slight outlay purchase
objects which will become very valuable when afterwards restored at
As I can imagine no head of a family, and no dealer in miscellaneous
works of art or any small wares, no provider of furniture or furnisher,
to whom this work will not be a most acceptable gift, so I am very
confident that every traveller who has trunks to mend or broken straps
to join, and every emigrant roughing it in the forests or the bush
of Australia or Canada, may learn from it many useful devices, and
the fact that with nothing more than a small tin of liquid glue and
another of indiarubber he can effect more than could be imagined by
any one who has not studied the subject. On this I speak not without
experience, having found that, both as a soldier and a traveller in the
Wild West of America, my knowledge of mending was of great use to my
friends as well as myself. A perusal of the Index of what is here given
will satisfy the reader that this manual is in fact a _vade mecum_ for
almost all sorts and conditions of men and women, and that there are
none who would not be thankful for it.
A friend adds to these remarks the suggestion that this work may
properly be included among the presents to a bride as an aid to
housekeeping; and it will probably be admitted that it would prove
quite as useful as many of the gifts which are usually bestowed on such
I have truly said that, while breaking and decay are universal, there
are literally nowhere any generally accomplished repairers--that is to
say, experts who know and can practise even what is set forth in this
book. Certain menders of broken china there are, of whom the great
authority on fictile restoration, RIS-PASQUOT, declares that none
can be trusted with anything valuable. There are so few needle-women
who can sew up a rent perfectly that a lady “to the manor born” paid
in Rome _two pounds_, or _fifty lire_, for being taught the stitch,
described in this book, by which it can be done. That it was a great
secret to an expert and accomplished needle-woman proves that it
cannot be generally known. A house-furnisher in London doing a large
business once explained to me with manifest pride how he had, by dint
of persuasion and treating, obtained from another what is really one
of the simplest recipes for restoring a brown stain. All of this being
true, it is apparent enough that any accomplished mender and restorer,
lady or gentleman, can hardly fail to make a living by the art; and I
sincerely believe that it is the simple truth that it is set forth in
the following pages so fully and clearly that any one who will make the
experiment can learn from it how to make a living. This is effectively,
in all its fulness, a new art and a new calling, and it is time that it
It is a great mistake to suppose that manufacturers are necessarily
good menders of what they make. I have found, as have my readers,
that it is not the great watchmaker who oversees the production of
thousands of watches to whom a watch can be most safely trusted for
rehabilitation. For, in nine cases out of ten, it is some extremely
humble brother of the craft, who does nothing but mend in a small
shop, who restores your chronometer most admirably. The same is true
as regards trunks anywhere out of England, since in Germany and France
anything of the kind is invariably botched with incredible want of
skill. This runs through most trades; for which reason I believe that
a really well-accomplished general _mender_, earnestly devoted to the
calling in every detail and resolved to be perfect in it, could ere
long repair better than most manufacturers, since the latter, in these
days, all work by machinery or by vast subdivision of labour, and not,
so to speak, by hand. But all repairing _must_ be by hand. We can make
every detail of a watch or of a gun by machinery, but the machine
cannot mend it when broken, much less a clock or a pistol!
The value of this book will appear to any one who knows how little
really good repairing there is in Europe. Since writing the foregoing
pages I have gone through the galleries of the Vatican and many other
museums, and been amazed at the coarse, ignorant, and bungling manner
in which the _great majority_ of antique statues and other objects of
immense value have been mended up. There is in most cases no pretence
whatever to conceal the lines of repair, and when this has been
attempted it has failed through ignorance of recipes and instructions
which may be found in this work.
A MANUAL OF
MENDING AND REPAIRING
MATERIALS USED IN MENDING
“_There are full many admirable and practical recipes_
(Hausmitteln), _which are often known only in certain
families_.”--Die Natürliche Magie. By JOHANN C. WIEGLEB, 1782.
The art of mending or of repairing may be broadly stated as being
effected, firstly, by mechanical processes, such as those employed by
carpenters in nailing and joining, in embroidery with the needle, and
in metal-work with clumps, or soldering; and, secondly, by chemical
means. The latter consist of _cements_ and _adhesives_, which are,
however, effectively the same thing. This glue, or gum, is an adhesive
or _sticker_; that is, a simple substance which causes two objects to
adhere. The same, when combined with powder of chalk or glass, would
be a CEMENT. This latter term is again applied somewhat generally and
loosely by many, not only to all adhesives, but also more correctly to
all soft substances which harden, such as Portland cement, mortar, and
putty, and which are often used by themselves to form objects, such
as “bricks” and castings; but these latter, having also the quality of
acting as adhesives or stickers, are naturally regarded as being the
As will be speedily observed in the great number of recipes for
mending which will be given in this book, there are many which occur
frequently in different combinations; therefore it will be advisable
and indispensable for those who wish to master mending as an art to
indicate these as a basis.
As SIGMUND LEHNER has observed in his valuable work on _Die Kitte- und
Klebemittel_, there have been such vast numbers of recipes published
of late years for adhesives in various technological works, that the
combination of the usual materials depends almost on the judgment of
the experimenter, and every practical operator will soon learn to make
inventions of his own. These materials, according to STOHMANN, may be
classified as follows:--
I. Those in which OIL is the basis.
II. Resin or pitch.
III. Caoutchouc (indiarubber) or gutta-percha.
IV. Gum or starch.
V. Lime and chalk.
LEHNER extends the list as follows into adhesives, or cements:--
I. For glass and porcelain in every form.
II. For metals not exposed to changes of temperature.
III. For stoves and furnaces, or objects exposed to
IV. For chemical apparatus and objects exposed to
V. Luting or cements, to protect glass or porcelain
vessels from the action of fire.
VI. Cements for microscopic preparations, for filling
teeth and similar work.
VII. Those for special objects, such as are made of
tortoise-shell, meerschaum (ivory), &c.
OILS are divided into those (such as olive) which never become hard,
and the linseed, which in time dries into a substance like gum. The
latter combined with a great variety of mineral substances, such as
plumbago, calcined lime, magnesia, chalk, red oxide of iron, soapstone,
or with varnishes, forms insoluble “soaps,” which, as cements, resist
water. They require a long time to _set_ or become hard.
RESINS and GUMS include a great number of substances, such as resin or
hard pitch, which is distilled from pine-trees; shellac, mastic, elemi,
copal, kauri gum, amber, gum arabic, dextrine made from flour, the gum
of the peach and cherry, and of many other trees. To these may be added
frankincense and tragacanth, which is less an adhesive than a stiffener
and dresser. Gums are generally rather brittle; this is remedied by
combination with oily substances, volatile oils, or caoutchouc. With
these gums LEHNER includes asphaltum. The defect of such adhesives is,
as he also remarks, that they will not resist _high_ temperatures.
This, however, will apply to most objects.
VARNISH.--This belongs properly to the gums, but is technically
regarded as a separate material. It is gum in solution in turpentine or
spirits. For details vide _Die Fabrikation der Copal- Terpentinöl und
Spiritus-Lacke_, by L. E. Andés; Leipzig, price 5 m. 40 pf.
CAOUTCHOUC and GUTTA-PERCHA are gums which when hard are still elastic,
and resist the action of water. I have read that a perfect imitation or
substitute for them has been made of turpentine, but have not seen it,
though I have met with glue made with oil and turpentine, which very
much resembled them in elasticity or flexibility. Reduced to a liquid
form with ether, benzine, &c., these gums can be kept in a liquid state
for a long time, and then hardened in any form by exposure to the air.
They enter into a very great variety of cements, such as are meant to
be tough or waterproof. Indiarubber is, on the whole, the best, and
gutta-percha the cheapest, for cements.
GLUE.--This is made, by boiling, from horns and bones; it is
essentially the same as gelatine. It is the most generally known of all
adhesives, and may be modified by certain admixtures to suit almost
any substance. It has the peculiarity that it must always be boiled in
a _balneum mariæ_, or in a kettle in hot water in another kettle. Its
strength is vastly increased by admixture with nitric acid or _strong_
vinegar. On the subject of glue in all its relations, the reader may
consult _Die Leim- und Gelatine-Fabrikation_, or “The Manufacture of
Glue and Gelatine,” by F. Dawidowsky; Vienna, price 3s.
FLOUR-PASTE AND STARCH-PASTE.--These mixtures, though generally
used for weak work, such as to make papers adhere, can be very much
strengthened by admixture with glue and gums. Combined with certain
substances, such as paper, mineral powders, and _alum_, they, when
submitted to pressure, become intensely hard, and resist not only water
but heat, when not excessive. Also combined with varnishes they are
decided resistants. LEHNER speaks of them as if they were perishable in
STURGEON’S BLADDER.--With this the bladders of several kinds of fish
are classed. Cut in small pieces and dissolved in spirits it makes a
very strong adhesive, which is mixed with many others.
LIME is the most extensively used cement in the world. Combined
with water it forms mortar. It is united with many substances, such
as caseine or cheese, the white of eggs, and silicate of soda, to
make powerful minor cements. On the subject of lime the practical
technologist should consult _Kalk und Luftmortel_, by Dr. Herrmann
Zwick; Vienna, A. Hartleben, price 3s., in which all details of the
subject are given in full.
EGGS.--The yolk, and more particularly the white, of eggs is sometimes
used as an adhesive, and it enters into many very excellent cements.
For details as to the chemistry and technology of this material consult
_Die Fabrikationen von Albumin- und Eierkonserven_ (A Full Account of
the Characteristics of all Egg Substances, the Fabrication of Egg, and
Blood Albumen, &c.), by Karl Ruprecht; Vienna, A. Hartleben, price 2s.
NEUTRAL SUBSTANCES, OR BINDING MATERIALS.--Almost any substance not
easily soluble in water, and many which are, from common dust or earth,
or clay, sand, chalk, powdered egg-shells, sawdust, shell-powder, &c.,
when combined with certain adhesives, form cements. This is sometimes
due to chemical combination, but more frequently to mechanical union.
In the latter case the adhesive clinging to every separate grain has
the more points of adhesion, just as a man by clinging with both hands
to two posts is harder to remove than if he held by one.
CASEINE OR CHEESE.--This in several forms, but chiefly of curd in
combination with several substances, but mostly with lime or borax,
forms a very valuable cement. It is also combined with strong _lye_ and
silicate of soda. It must not, however, be too much depended on as a
resistant to water or heat.
BLOOD, generally of oxen or cows, combined with lime, alum, and coal
ashes, forms a solid and durable cement.
GLYCERINE forms the basis, with plumbago, &c., of several cements.
Like oil, it renders glue flexible and partly waterproof. For chemical
details on this subject, vide _Das Glycerin_, by J. W. Koppe, Leipzig.
GYPSUM is combined with many substances to form cements, some of them
of great and peculiar value.
IRON pulverised is the basis of a great number of very durable and
strongly resistant cements.
ALUM may be included among the bases, as it is very important in
several compositions, forming a powerful chemical aid. It is excellent
as aiding resistance to both moisture and heat. For an exhaustive
work on alum consult _Die Fabrikation des Alauns_, &c., by Frederic
Junemann, which should be carefully studied by all who work in cements.
There is a very great number of “indifferent” or minor aids to these,
such as sugar, milk, honey, spirits of wine, water, ochre, galbanum,
tannin, ammonia, feldspar, plumbago, sulphur, vinegar, salt, zinc
(white), umber, bismuth, tin, cadmium, clay, ashes, &c., which are
essential in certain combinations.
DEXTRINE, the gum of flour or starch, or _Leiokom_, much resembles
gum-arabic, but is more brittle. Its adhesiveness depends somewhat on
the manner in which it is dissolved. “It is,” says LEHNER, “prepared
by heating starch which has been moistened with nitric acid; also by
warming paste with very much diluted sulphuric acid.”
WAX, including that of bees as well as paraffine, is used in repairs,
and forms a part of several cements. On this subject consult _Das
Wachs_, or “Wax and its Technical Applications,” by Ludwig Sedna;
Leipzig, 2s. 6d.
SILICATE OF SODA, OR LIQUID GLASS.--This is generally sold in the form
of a very dense liquid. It is prepared by mixing quartz or flint sand
with soda, or more rarely with potash. “It is,” says LEHNER, “a glass
which is distinguished from other glasses by being easily soluble
in water. It is believed to be a very modern invention; but I have
seen Venetian glasses of the fifteenth century which appeared to be
painted with it, or something very similar; and I have found decided
indications of a knowledge of it in two writers of the sixteenth
century, WOLFGANG HILDEBRAND and VAN HELMONT. According to Wagner,
there are three kinds of liquid glass. By itself liquid glass can only
be used for mending glass; but when combined with other substances,
such as cement, calcined lime, or clay, or glass, in powder, it forms
a body as hard as stone, or a double silicate, which is strongly
resistant to chemical influences.” It occupies the first position as
an adhesive for glass, nor is it surpassed as a cement in solid form.
On this subject vide _Wasserglas und Infusorienerde_, &c., by Hermann
Krätzer; Vienna, 3s.
NATURAL CEMENT, OR HYDRAULIC LIME.--This is familiarly known to all
readers as Portland cement, but it is found of different qualities
in many countries, and is also made artificially. Certain mineral
substances have the quality when powdered and combined with water of
setting hard as stone; hence the name _hydraulic_. I have seen at
Budapest articles of Portland cement made in Hungary which equalled in
appearance fine black slate or marble, and, while much less brittle,
were indeed in every respect more durable and resistant to exposure.
These artificial cements can be largely incorporated with indifferent
substances, such as sand; they, however, require intense baking, and
may in consequence be regarded as a kind of fictile ware.
Portland cement is very thoroughly treated in _Hydraulischer Kalk und
Portland Cement_ (in all their relations), by Dr. H. Zwick.
TRAGACANTH, though called a gum, is properly nothing of the kind, not
being a true adhesive. It is the product of the _Astragalus verus_, a
tree found in Asia. It swells out in water, and softens, but without
dissolving. It is more of a glaze than a paste; hence it is used
extensively by confectioners, bookbinders, or to stiffen laces. It
enters, however, into the composition of several cements.
BREAD may be classed as a material by itself, as it derives certain
peculiar virtues from the yeast which causes its fermentation. With
certain combinations it becomes wax-like, or hard, and may be used to
advantage in many repairs as well as for modelling. It has the great
advantage of being easily worked and always at hand.
CELLULOID is treated of in this work under the head of Artificial
Ivory. It is made from gun-cotton and camphor. For full information on
this subject consult _Das Celluloid_, or “Celluloid, its Raw Materials,
Manufacture, Peculiarities, and Technical Applications, &c.,” by Dr.
Fr. Böckmann, Vienna and Leipzig.
POTATOES, peeled and mashed, and kept for thirty-six hours in a mixture
of eight parts of sulphuric acid to a hundred of water, and then dried
and pressed, form a white, hard substance very much like ivory, or,
as one may say, like white boxwood. LEHNER expresses his doubt as to
whether artificial meerschaum pipes were ever made of this substance,
but I have seen them, and can testify that they looked like meerschaum,
and certainly were much harder than _bruyere_, or briar-wood. Whether
they will “colour” I cannot say.
The principle by which potatoes, paper, and many other substances can
be hardened like parchment or horn is curious. Potatoes consist of
about seventy per cent. water and twenty-five per cent. of starch, the
remainder being salts and _cellulose_, which forms cells surrounded by
the grains of starch. “When such a substance is for some time brought
into contact with diluted sulphuric acid, that which results is simply
a contraction of the cells” (_i.e._, a hardening), “or a kind of
parchmenting.” Thus soft paper is converted into parchment.
It is evident that chemistry is as yet in its infancy as regards the
conversion of cellulose by acid into hard substances. Since cotton,
paper, and potatoes all produce by this process different substances,
it is probable that hundreds of organic, or at least vegetable,
substances will all yield new forms.
There is a marked difference between paste made of _starch_ or
_flour_, each having its peculiar merits. The former is principally
prepared from potatoes. To prepare the cement we mix it with a very
little water, stirring it very thoroughly till it assumes a bluish
appearance. A little more hot water is then added, and the mass left
till an opal-like tinge indicates that it has formed. To this then add
hot water _ad libitum_. As it is almost colourless in very thin coats,
it is largely used to glaze and give body or weight to, and often
to simply falsify, woven fabrics, which by its aid seem heavier. To
increase this weight white lead and other substances are used.
To make the best flour-paste, flour should be kneaded in a bag under
water till all the starch is washed away. What remains is a substance
closely allied to caseine, or the white of egg. Combined with lime it
forms a hard cement. A very slight admixture of carbolic acid (also
oil of cloves) will keep paste from souring or decay. This acid has
the property of destroying the growth of the minute vegetation which
constitutes fermentation, just as other strong scents or perfumes are
supposed to disinfect rooms, &c.
A very great number of other ingredients, such as the oxides of lead
or zinc, manganese, baryta, sulphur, sal ammoniac, flint-sand, clay,
salt, ochre, varnish, galbanum, or frankincense, enter into certain
recipes, but those already given may be regarded as constituting by far
the principal portion of all cements in ordinary use.
MENDING BROKEN CHINA, PORCELAIN, CROCKERY, MAJOLICA, TERRA-COTTA, BRICK
AND TILE WORK.
Fictile or Ceramic ware embraces, roughly speaking, all that is made of
clay, or mineral bases or materials, and which is subsequently baked
to give it hardness. The better the material and the more intense the
heat, or the greater the number of bakings to which most kinds are
subjected, the harder and more lasting will they be. The old china ware
which preceded porcelain, a great many specimens of old Roman vessels,
and, for a more modern example, old Italian majolica and Hungarian
wine-pitchers, made all within a century, are as hard as stone. They
chip a great deal before they break, just as agate might do.
TERRA-COTTA is simply earth or clay “baked.” In most of the examples
known as terra-cotta, earth predominates. Pure fine clay well fired is
superior to what is generally called terra-cotta. Neither can we really
class with it articles made of superior Portland cement, of which, as I
have said, I have seen many made at Budapest which were like the finest
Many writers confuse majolica with faïence; others regard the latter
as what we should call crockery, or such ware as ranges between glazed
terra-cotta and porcelain.
MAJOLICA consists generally of terra-cotta covered with a glaze.
A glaze is a fusible substance, we may say a kind of glass, mixed
with colouring matter, which is at the same time a protection and an
ornament. Enamel is glass in fine powder melted, used generally on
metal or by itself. The base of the paint is a substance fusible by
heat which is mixed with colours also fusible. Therefore when the
painting is submitted to heat it melts, adheres, and is permanent.
Glazing, enamelling, and china painting are essentially the same.
Terra-cotta is not difficult to mend. I can best illustrate this by an
example. A friend once gave me a terra-cotta vase from the Pyramid of
Cholula, in Mexico. These are supposed to be of very great antiquity.
This contained a fragment of pottery, probably a sacred relic of ruder
style, and I suppose of far earlier times. The vase, however, had
been broken to fragments, and the owner was about to throw it away as
worthless. I begged it of him. Firstly, I put the principal pieces
together, using, to make them adhere, glue with nitric acid. For finer
work I should have used Turkish cement or the best gum-mastic dissolved
in spirit or fish glue. Piece by piece with care I reconstructed the
There was wanting, however, one piece about three inches square. I
pasted with great care a piece of paper inside the vase for a _back_,
and then poured on it plaster of Paris liquefied with water. To make
this _set_ hard, the plaster or _gesso_ should be made with burnt
alum-water and dissolved gum-arabic. This exactly supplied the missing
When it was finished, I filled in all the broken edges and other
cavities with the plaster-paste, which set even harder than the
terra-cotta. The outer colour of the vase was of reddish rusty black.
I painted the whole over with a corresponding colour; that is to say,
I rubbed it in by thumb, which is very different from mere painting.
By cementing and rubbing I so restored the whole that the repair was
hardly perceptible. This process is carried to great perfection in
Italy with broken Etruscan ware.
I may here remark as regards _rubbing in_ oil or water colours, that it
is little known or practised, but it is of great value in restoration
when we wish to produce certain curious antique-looking effects. I
once knew in Rome an artist who had bought for a trifle an old carved
_baule_ or chest. By rubbing in with care on it Naples yellow and brown
shades, and subsequent friction, he had made it look strangely like
old ivory. Mere painting, however skilfully performed, would not have
given it its antique ivory look. The same artist had purchased one or
two common, large, yellowish terra-cotta wine-jars. He drew on them
classical figures, cut out the outlines a little with chisel and file,
and smoothing the figures with sandpaper, also ivoried the whole by
_rubbing in_ colour. This was but a few hours’ work, yet the effect was
startling. What had cost but a few francs would have sold for hundreds.
I should add that with the aid of fine retouching flexible varnish this
process could be very much facilitated. Any one who can draw or paint
at all can try this experiment on any old piece of wood-carving, or
on a common yellow coarse earthenware. Smooth the latter first with
sandpaper, then rub in the colours. The same is applicable to old
carving in marble.
All of these devices are of use to the restorer. As regards restoration
of terra-cotta, the field is wide and profitable. Not only in Italy,
but even in London, we may find for sale broken Etruscan vases or
similar objects for a trifle, which are extremely easy to restore.
These are generally of red or light yellow clay baked. If you have, let
us say, a vase fractured, obtain clay of the same colour--if you cannot
readily get it, take pipeclay--and colour it with a strong infusion of
red or yellow, though this is not necessary if the exterior is black.
Mix the clay well with glue or gum-arabic and alum-water, supply the
missing portions, and let them harden. With a little care and practice,
remarkable restorations may thus be made. I may here add that with
this composition, bottles, decanters, and cups can be coated, which,
when painted or rubbed in, exactly resemble Etruscan or other ancient
pottery. To prevent cracking, they should first be painted with thick,
coarse oil paint mixed with sand or umber, which forms a ground. Let it
dry--the longer the better--and then rub in, thinly, the gum and clay.
There is another composition of _blanc d’Espagne_, or whiting, and
silicate of soda, which sets even harder, but which is a little more
difficult at first to work, which may be used for such restoration.
This can be directly painted on glass for a ground.
_Majolica_ or _Faïence_ can generally be sufficiently well mended with
acidulated glue, but as the latter often communicates a dark stain,
it is better to use for fine ware, or any which is to be used, the
so-called Turkish cement. The best quality of this is made of the
finest quality of gum-mastic dissolved in spirit. It is so tenacious
that in the East gems are frequently directly attached by means of it
to metal, and they will often break sooner than separate from it. Most
chemists have for sale, or will prepare for you, some form of it. The
silicate of potash and whiting can also be supplied by chemists; they
should be mixed with great care, so as to form a medium paste, and then
used rapidly and with skill, because this cement hardens very quickly.
It is, however, a very powerful binder, and sets as hard as glass.
Having put together and cemented the broken pieces of a cup or vase,
they must be kept in place till the cement dries. This is effected by
means of many contrivances, regarding which the operator must employ
_some_ original inventiveness. Firstly, the pieces can often be simply
tied, or attached by pieces of tape, or parchment, or paper glued on.
In other cases india-rubber bands are useful. Again, bits of wood, or
sticks and wires, are the things useful. A bed of wax is generally a
sure guard. It is best to do this with great care, and not impatiently
rely on holding the pieces together with the fingers till they stick.
This is often the most difficult part of the whole operation; therefore
it should be done well and deliberately. And here it may be remarked
that, as in surgery, the most complicated cases of fracture may be
studied out and adjusted; for which reason I dare say that skilful
surgeons would be good menders of crockery, just as good astronomers
are always good riflemen.
When the broken pieces are adjusted and all is dry, there remain
the chips, hollows, ragged edges, and “hairs,” as the French call
them, or lines of juncture, to be filled and smoothed. This is done
with the cement which you employ, according to the quality of the
material, either plaster and gum-arabic, silicate and whiting, or
powdered chalk. Some experts succeed with white of an egg and finely
powdered quicklime, which holds firmly, but which requires practice to
amalgamate. Fill the cavities carefully, pressing the cement well in,
as the Romans did, with a stick or point. When all is smooth, paint
over the blank spaces and varnish with Sohnée, No. 3, or with a slight
coating of silicate. Fine copal varnish is rather tougher or less
The most thorough process of all is to unite the fragments with a
vitreous or metallic _flux_, such as the silicate--there are several of
these--and then have the work baked or fired. It can then be painted
with porcelain colours under glaze, and fired again. As this is very
delicate, difficult, and expensive, few amateurs will care to try
it. It is, however, perfect, and by means of it the most complete
reparation can be effected. The Japanese do this simply with the
blow-pipe, by means of which they fix enamel powders even on wood. This
use of the pipe is also difficult, but the ancient Romans are said to
have employed the process with most minor work. As a thread of glass
will melt in a candle, and as fine-glass powder is equally fusible, it
can be understood that under the flame of a blow-pipe the latter can
often be melted so as to avail in restoration.
CROCKERY, OR FAÏENCE, AND PORCELAIN.--“Crockery,” by which we commonly
understand such ware as that of the blue willow plates, is far
superior to terra-cotta, since its _core_ or basis is thin, and very
hard, and its gloss of a different description, and more incorporated
with the body; or it is of a single superior body.
PORCELAIN differs entirely from the other two kinds of fictile ware,
being an elaborate mineralogical compound, its base being _kaolin_,
a friable, white, earthy substance, requiring great care in its
preparation, and _petunse_, or feldspar, which is united with the
_kaolin_. The result is a very delicate and beautiful diaphanous
ware, or one through which light passes to a limited degree. Both
crockery and porcelain are far more difficult to mend, owing to the
impossibility--particularly with the latter--of making fractures
The first and most simple process of mending both kinds of ware is
to make small holes with a drill along the edges of the fracture,
and then, adjusting the fragments, bind them together with wire. M.
RIS-PAQUOT claims that “the honour of this discovery belongs properly
to a humble and modest workman named DELILLE, of the little village of
Montjoye, in Normandy.” But the archæologist will say of this claim,
as the English judge did of a similar one, that the plaintiff might as
well apply for a patent for having discovered the art of mixing brandy
with water, since there was probably never yet a savage who had wire,
or even string, who did not know enough to mend broken calabashes,
jars, and pipes by this solid method of sewing. From the time when
large earthen punch-bowls were first used in Europe, we find them
mended with silver wire. It is needless to devote whole pages with
illustrations, as M. RIS-PAQUOT has done, to show how to effect such
mending. The holes are made with either a bore or hand drill, such as
can be bought in every tool shop. If the reader will obtain one and
experiment with it on any penny plate or broken fragment, he will soon
master all the mystery. The wire is made fast by a turn with a pair of
nippers or pincers. Before fastening, wash the edges of the ware with
white of egg in which a very little whiting, or finely powdered lime or
plaster of Paris, has been mixed.
I may here observe that the wire for china-drilling should be half
round, or flat on one side. To prepare this, take brass wire, say a
length of about two feet, and, holding an old knife, draw the wire
firmly and steadily against it.
There are endless cements for sale by chemists, all warranted perfect,
to mend glass and china, and most of them do indeed answer the purpose
very well, for nature has given us not a few materials wherewith to
repair accidents. Thus, even boiling in milk will often suffice to
reunite broken edges. But I believe that of all, the Turkish cement
already described, which is made of gum MASTIC (a term improperly
applied in France to putty, by Americans to lime-plaster on houses, and
by Levantines to spirit with resin in it), is the most adhesive and
resistant to heat, cold, or moisture.
The art of mending does not consist so much of knowing what to use for
an ADHESIVE (since, as I have said, every chemist’s shop abounds in
these) as in skill and tact with which fragments are brought and kept
together, missing portions supplied, and in knowing the substance with
which to fill a blank. There are cases in which, when a hole has been
knocked in a china or glass plate, it can be drilled out round, and a
disc of the same substance or colour, or even of another, inserted.
This is almost an art by itself, and by means of it very singular and
puzzling effects may be introduced; as, for instance, when a number of
holes are drilled in a white china plate and then filled with discs
of coloured china, agate, coral, &c. In the East, turquoise and coral
beads are often thus set into porcelain, as well as wood. The mastic or
acidulated glue is used to make the objects inserted hold firmly.
As the smoker, when he breaks his pipe across the stem, has it repaired
with a short silver slide or tube, so when a china jar is broken across
the neck, the reparation can be concealed by a silver collar, which is
sometimes a great improvement; as, for instance, when the head of a
china dog, or even of a china man, is taken off. But in a great many
cases, or in all where this kind of concealment is advisable, it may
be made, like Cæsar’s wife, beyond suspicion, by making the collar or
concealing ornament, or leaf or flower, of silicate and whiting so as
to resemble the ware itself, which can be done very nicely.
SILICATE OF SODA is sometimes sold in the form of a dry solid, which is
placed in a little vinegar, and warmed. When dissolved it can be used
_ad libitum_. It is often used as a glaze for stone.
There is a curious old story about mending broken crockery by means of
magic--or rather by deceit--which, though not of a practical nature, is
at least amusing. It is partially told in a book published about 1670,
entitled _Joco-Seriorum Naturæ et Artis Magiæ Naturales Centuriæ Tres_.
It happened once in Mergentheim that there was a great fair, when the
whole courtyard of the palace was full of earthenware vessels for sale
_ab assidentibus muliebibus_ (by attendant women). Seeing this, the
Prince of Mergentheim went about among these women, and so arranged it
that they divided all their stock into two parts, or exact duplicates,
half of which they hid away, while the other half was exposed for sale.
While at dinner the Prince spoke much of magic, and professed to be
able to produce such a delirium in people’s minds that they would act
like lunatics. “Thus, for instance,” he said, pointing casually out of
the window, “you see all those women. I can drive them mad at once.”
Whereupon one who was present wagered a handsome carriage and four
horses that the Prince could not do it. The latter smiled, waved his
hand, and uttered a spell, when lo! all at once the market-women began,
_bacchantium more_--like raging Bacchantæ--to attack their crockery
with sticks and stools, and hurl it about, and dash it to pieces.
The one who had betted the chariot protested that it was a trick
arranged beforehand. The Prince replied, “Well, the pots are all
broken. If I can mend them again by a spell, wilt thou then believe?”
The other said, “Most certainly.” Then the Prince waved his wand and
said, “It is done. Let us go down into the courtyard and see.” And when
there, sure enough they found the pots all whole again--at least they
discovered others exactly like them in their places.
The legend continued that the Prince, though he kept the carriage and
horses as a trophy, liberally paid for them. The author of the _Tres
Centuriæ_, who does not record the secret of the little arrangement,
declares that he does not know whether it was all done by a fraud
or by magic. If it was the latter, I regret that the incantation by
which broken crockery is mended is now lost. The most powerful spell
known to me is _Recipe Gummæ Mastichæ duæ unciæ cum Spirito Vini
fiat mixtio_--that is, mastic cement. It is generally combined with
sturgeon’s bladder glue.
This cement answers very well for glass. One of the old recipes,
which was very good indeed, is thus given by JOHANNES WALLBURGER
(1760):--“Take finely cut and a little powdered sturgeon’s bladder”
(still sold by all chemists), “soften it all night in spirits, add to
this a little clean and powdered mastic, boil it a little in a brass
pan. Should it become too thick, add a little spirits.” This may be
also used for many other purposes.
A strong but coarser adhesive, especially for crockery and stone, can
be made as follows:--Take old and hard goat’s milk cheese, and warm it
in hot water till it forms, by pounding, a mass like turpentine. Add to
this, while grinding, finely pulverised quicklime and the well-shaken
white of eggs.
I do not hesitate to give a variety of such recipes, because in every
one the artist will find valuable suggestions for other purposes than
simply glueing broken articles together. This latter is a valuable
“filler” for many purposes. Glue was formerly made into a strong
cement by boiling it for a time in water, but before it had become
incorporated with the water, the latter was poured off and strong
spirits substituted and stirred well in.
A very popular old cement for crockery, of which there were several
variations, was made by mixing glue, turpentine, ox-gall, the juice
of garlic, and sturgeon-bladder, tragacanth, and mastic. All of this
singularly smelling mixture was put into a pan and boiled in strong
spirits, such as whisky, then kneaded on a board under a roller, again
boiled with more spirits, yet again rolled, and this was repeated a
third time, and then cooled till it could be cut into cakes. When these
were to be used they were again steeped in spirits. But with this
cement, glass or metal could be most firmly attached to wood. I confess
that I have never tried it, but it was evidently a very strong cement.
Another of these somewhat complicated recipes for crockery, glass,
and porcelain, which I find in the _Tausandkünstler_, 1782, is
as follows:--Half an ounce of finely cut sturgeon’s bladder, two
teaspoonfuls of alabaster powder or gypsum, quarter of an ounce of
tragacanth, one teaspoonful of silberglatt, two of powdered mastic,
two of frankincense, two of gum-arabic, one of Marienglas, one
tablespoonful of spirits of wine, one of beer-vinegar. Boil it and
stir, and apply. Any drops sticking to the mended article may be
removed with vinegar. When it is to be used again revive it by heating,
adding spirits of wine and beer-vinegar. The gum-frankincense is here
A common cement for mending broken glass or china is prepared as
follows:--To two parts of gum-shellac add one of turpentine; boil them
over a slow fire, and form the mass into small cakes before it dries.
To use it, warm with a lamp. To mend ivory or wood, take a cake and let
it dissolve in spirits of wine.
A very strong cement is made as follows:--Take one ounce of finely
powdered mastic dissolved in six of spirits of wine and two ounces of
shredded sturgeon’s bladder dissolved in two ounces common spirits; add
one half ounce of _gum-ammoniac_ as it hardens; warm it when it is to
be used. This is as strong a cement as can be made.
Defects, cracks, and repairs in porcelain, &c., may often be concealed
as follows:--Paint the spot with silicate of soda, not too much
thinned, and dust it over before it dries with bronze powder. This will
set so hard that it may be polished with an agate burnisher.
It is also possible that many of my readers have heard of _gesso
painting_, an art perfected by Mr. WALTER CRANE. This consists of
painting with plaster of Paris in solution, with the point of a brush,
depositing the soft paste in relief. The same principle is applicable
to painting in silicate and whiting on glass surfaces. By means of it
decoration can be given to any glass bottle or other object.
LIME enters into the composition of many cements, the simplest being
the mortar formed by its admixture with water. But the quality of
this is very much determined by that of the lime. The _chunam_ of
India, which resembles white marble or a fine white stone, is made of
sea-shells burned to lime. A wonderfully hard, fine, white cement used
by the Romans for their best mosaic-work, and which set with great
rapidity, was made of shell-lime with the white of eggs. I have found
the same composition worthless when made with inferior stone-lime.
A good cheap cement for porcelain and glass is combined as follows:--
Starch or wheat flour 8
Purified chalk 12
Spirits of wine 24
Pour a part of the spirits and water mixed on the flour and chalk,
add the glue, boil it down till the latter dissolves, and stir the
turpentine into the whole. This can be used to make artificial wood
with shavings or sawdust.
A very good cement for porcelain, and one which is colourless, is made
by cutting the finest clear gelatine into bits, and dissolving it in
vinegar of 50°, stirring it in a porcelain vessel until well mixed.
When cold it will harden, but softens under the influence of heat,
when it may be applied to the broken edges of the porcelain, which are
to be pressed together. It will be perfectly hard within twenty-four
hours. It is to be observed that the art of keeping such joined pieces
together is the most difficult problem in mending. This cement is
widely applicable to many objects, and also admits of considerable
modification and additions, like all cements. As it is colourless, it
may be combined with ivory dust, or white powders of baryta, magnesia,
whiting, &c., to form artificial ivory with glycerine. With sturgeon’s
bladder it makes a still stronger cement.
LEHNER observes that glue has the property, when combined with acid
chrome salt (_sauren chromsalzen_), of losing its solubility when
exposed to the light, so that it can be used as a cement for broken
porcelain and glass. If the juncture is to be invisible, take the
purest white gelatine; otherwise the cheaper gilder’s glue will answer.
To prepare the chrome glue, dissolve the gelatine or the glue in
boiling water, then add the solution of double chromic acid alkali, or
the red chrome alkali of commerce, stir it well up, and put it into tin
The formula is:--
Gelatine or gilders’ glue 5-10
Red chrome alkali 1-2
Dissolved in water 10
To use, warm the cement, apply it to the broken glass, which must then
be exposed for several hours to the sunshine.
Cracked bottles are mended by a very ingenious process, described by
LEHNER. The bottle is corked, but not tightly, and then exposed to
heat about 100° centigrade. Then the cork is driven in tightly, which
causes an expansion of the cracks, which are at once filled by means
of a finely pointed brush with the silicate. Removed to a cooler place
the glass contracts on the as yet fluid silicate, and the fractures are
* * * * *
A VERY STRONG, CLEAN CEMENT FOR PORCELAIN OR GLASS is made as follows:--
Well-cleaned glass powder 10
” fluor spar powder 20
Silicate of soda solution 60
This must be very quickly stirred and applied. This is one of the
_hardest_ and best cements, and it resists heat and other influences
so well that when very carefully amalgamated it may be applied to the
manufacture of many useful articles. The same may be made with the
substitution of white pipeclay for fluor spar, or with the addition of
the same in somewhat larger proportion. Pipeclay or any good clay can
also be combined with glycerine to prevent its drying. With gelatine
and a _little_ glycerine it will harden and not crack.
This requires careful amalgamation and rapid work.
To prepare very fine glass-powder for this cement, heat any glass till
red-hot, then drop it into cold water. It may then be reduced in a
mortar to an impalpable powder.
Earthenware tubes or pipes which are to be exposed to intense heat may
be luted or joined with the following cement:--
Peroxide of manganese 80
White oxide of zinc 100
Silicate of soda 20
“This does _not melt_, save at a very high temperature; and when
melted it forms a glassy substance, which holds with extreme tenacity”
To prepare _caseine_ cement for crockery or marble, it may be observed
that we should always take _fresh_ white cheese and macerate or knead
it thoroughly till only pure CASEINE remains. By adding to this
one-third of powdered quicklime and blending the two ingredients
very thoroughly we get a very strong glue. An admixture of 10 parts
silicate of soda also forms a powerful cement.
The following for tile-work and common brick-crockery, or terra-cotta
or porcelain, is very highly commended by LEHNER, who says that
anything mended with it will sooner break in another place than where
it is cemented:--
Slacked lime 10
The cement is mixed with water, and the tile or crockery, &c., heated
just before being mended.
I cannot insist too strongly on this--that no one is to expect that by
simply taking recipes, as written, compounding and applying them, there
will be a successful result at the first trial. We must always have the
best material, often fresh, and generally attempt the application more
than once. _Perseverando vinces_--“By perseverance you will conquer.”
Not only must the _quality_ of the ingredients used be of the best, but
the composition be made exactly in the order in which they are given.
The same substances often give very different results, simply because
the order of combination in the two was different.
TO REPAIR PAVEMENTS:--
Calcined lime 10
Purified chalk 100
Silicate of soda 25
This hardens slowly. It can, when mixed with small sharp-edged
fragments of broken stone, be used to form pavements, or as a bed for
mosaics. For the same purposes, or for cementing marble slabs, a cement
known as that of BÖTTGER may be used. It is made thus:--
Purified chalk 100
Thick solution silicate of soda 25
This becomes (LEHNER) in a few hours so hard that it can be polished.
It is the principal, and almost the only, cement used by M.
RIS-PACQUOT, or commended in his work on mending crockery. It admits
of a great variety of modifications. It is very superior as a bed for
mosaics of all kinds. It forms, like the preceding, also a good bed for
scagliola and ceresa. I would here say of the latter, that I could
wish to see it more generally used for mural or wall ornament, since
any one who can paint a face or decoration boldly and largely in oil
or water colours will find it very easy. It admits of rapid execution,
and is striking from its brilliancy. Everything in it depends on
having a good bed to which it can easily adhere. I may here observe
that beds like these which set hard and _fine_ are also adapted to
fresco-painting, in which the difficulty is to select colours which,
when absorbed and dried, do not fade. Most paints made from mineral
substances combine with silicate of soda.
I may here remark that a curious and easy art, very little known,
consists of carving or cutting low reliefs on tiles or terra-cotta or
brick-like ware, which, when outlined or in relief, can be glazed in
colour with silicate of soda; also with many other cements.
A common and good CEMENT FOR PORCELAIN OR GLASS is made as follows:--
Calcined gypsum or plaster of Paris 50
Calcined lime 10
White of egg 20
This must be quickly mingled and rapidly used, as it sets very rapidly
and becomes extremely hard. It makes an admirable bed for mosaics or
When plaster of Paris is simply combined with burnt alum in water, the
objects mended with it require several weeks to set or adhere. Gypsum
combined with gum alone holds firmly, but does not resist water (vide
CEMENTS FOR LUTING or closing chemical apparatus:--
Dried clay 10
This endures heat to boiling-point of quicksilver.
A more resistant fireproof is as follows:--
Grey oxide of zinc 20
Linseed-oil varnish 7
Of the oil only so much is needed as to combine the mass to a paste.
A LUTING for very high temperatures:--
Glass powder 2
Boracic acid 3
LEHNER has in his work on Cements many valuable suggestions as to
mending porcelain. _Firstly_, that in such mending, the adhesive be
applied with care, in as even and as thin a coat as possible; to
which I would add, that the unskilful amateur is apt to daub it on
irregularly and carelessly, with the impression that the more cement
there is the better it will stick, which is just so far wrong that
every superfluous grain is just so much of an impediment to good
drying or adhesion. Again, the inexpert daubs it on with a stick or
“anything,” when a fine-pointed brush or hair-pencil should be used.
BROKEN CHINA WHICH IS TO BE MENDED should be carefully covered away
so as to protect it from dust, which is hard to clean off. Beware of
fitting the pieces together again and again, as is often done.
If the broken china was used to contain milk or soup, &c., it should
be laid in lye to dissolve all the fatty substance, and then be washed
with clear water. Painted porcelain cannot, however, be laid in lye,
which would ruin all the colours; in this case wipe them clean with
The great difficulty in mending is to bring the pieces together and
keep them so till the adhesive dries. LEHNER recommends that when
objects are small and costly, a mould of gypsum be constructed round
them. In most cases putty or wax is far more manageable. As before
remarked, indiarubber bands are chiefly to be relied on; even if not
capable of holding permanently, they aid greatly in tying with cord.
In the Manual of F. GOUPIL, rewritten by FREDERICK DILLAYE, the
following method of restoring broken vases, &c., is commended:--
“Form a solid mass of clay in the form of the original object. Then
place on it, one by one, the fragments in their place, keeping the clay
moist. When this is done, paste over the exterior strips of paper, in
sufficient quantity to hold the whole firmly together. Then remove
the moist clay, and paste strong slips of paper” (or thin parchment)
“over the interior so as to hold the whole. Then” (when dry) “carefully
moisten and remove the outer coating.”
The author mentions that this is only applicable to vases the mouth of
which is wide enough to permit the hand to be introduced. I would here,
however, add, that even when it is too small for this purpose, the
restoration can be equally well effected as follows:--Make the core of
wet clay, or, better, of beeswax, then paste over it thin tough paper.
Cover this with gum-arabic solution, and set the pieces on it. When
dry, melt out the wax or clay.
Fish-gum, _colle de poisson_--that is to say, what is generally called
_sturgeon’s bladder_, which includes the bladder of several kinds of
fishes dissolved--is best for glass, marble, porcelain, and all kinds
of mending where the cement should not show. This, when combined with
oil, is _said_, if mixed with cloth-dust and fibre of wool or silk or
cotton, to spin up into thread.
WITH SEVERAL ALLIED PROCESSES
APPROVED CEMENTS--SILICATE OF SODA
“_Glück und Glas
Wie bald bricht dass._”
“_Good luck, like glass,
Soon breaks, alas!
Yet skill can bring it so to pass
As to mend a fortune or a glass._”
--Old German Proverb.
Putty is naturally the first cement which suggests itself in connection
with the mending of glass, since this latter material is most familiar
to the world in the form of windows, although in many places--as, for
instance, Florence, where it is called _mastico_ and _pasta_--it is
little used or known. The word is from the French _potée_, which also
means a potful. It is very useful, not only for setting glass-panes,
but for filling holes in wood, and forms a part of certain mixtures as
a cement for moulding ornaments. It may be weak and brittle, or else
strong and very hard, according to the manner in which it is prepared.
It is commonly made by combining chalk in paste, with water, with
linseed-oil; other powders are also used. In America it is made with
pulverised soap-stone and oil. Its excellence depends on the quality
of the oil and the care with which it is kneaded. It should be kept in
a damp cellar, in wet cloth or under water. Should it dry and become
brittle, fresh oil must be added.
“_To take hard old putty from glass window-panes_, cover it with a
mixture of one part of calcined lime, two of soda, and two of water”
(LEHNER). Oxide of lead combined with oil makes an excellent but yellow
putty. It sets very hard.
The white or grey oxide of zinc combined with linseed-oil or
linseed-oil varnish makes a cement which is used for making glass
adhere to wood or metal.
_Thick lacquers_, such as copal or amber, may be used instead of common
varnish with better effect, and the composition is better when calcined
lime or oxide of lead are added. The excellence of the cement depends
on the degree to which the ingredients are amalgamated or rubbed in
together; and this rule holds good for all similar mixtures.
_Varnish_, or heavy or “flat” lacquer of copal or amber, forms of
itself a strong adhesive, with the only drawback that it takes a long
time to dry.
A VERY GOOD CEMENT FOR GLASS (LEHNER) is as follows:
Black pitch (asphalt) 100
Oil of turpentine 15
This is a glue of general application, and specially good for leather
and mending shoes.
The reader who would thoroughly study the subject of glass may consult
_Die Glas-Fabrikation_, a very admirable work by Raimund Gerner, glass
manufacturer; A. Hartleben, Vienna and Leipzig, price 4s. 6d.
Small triangles of sheet tin or iron are often used to fasten panes.
The mending of broken glass is in most cases much the same as that
of broken crockery or porcelain. The cement made from mastic, or
mastic combined with sturgeon’s bladder, or generally of silicate with
whiting, is the proper adhesive. As silicate of soda is simply liquid
glass, it can be employed to fill spaces or to make glass; but, owing
to its sticky nature, it is hard to manage. This may be often effected
by first preparing a layer of soft paper, on which successive coats of
silicate are laid. When dry the paper can be washed away.
SILICATE OF SODA has become of such importance that a French work on
mending fictile ware is almost entirely limited to its use as a binder,
when combined with whiting. _Water-glass_ was long supposed to be a
modern invention, till some one found it described in Van Helmont’s
works, A.D. 1610. But I have found it also in the _Joco-seriorum
Naturæ_, 1545; in the _Magia Naturalis_ of Wolfgang Hildebrand,
which is of the same time; and, finally, by _Paracelsus_ (_Liber de
Præparationibus_), where he describes it as _Destillatio Crystalli_.
And the author of the _Joco-seriorum_ speaks of soft glass as a thing
which had been treated by several writers.
According to WAGNER there are three kinds of soluble glass--(i.)
the soluble potash glass, 45 silex, 3 charcoal, 34 carb. potass.;
(ii.) soluble soda glass, 100 pts. quartz, 60 cal. sulp. soda, 15 of
charcoal; (iii.) double soluble glass, 100 quartz, 22 cal. soda,
28 carb. potass., 6 wood-coal. Water-glass combines well with any
“indifferent” powder, such as powdered glass, to make a strong cement.
To powder glass, heat it red-hot, drop it into cold water and pulverise
it. It will become as fine as flour, and in this state combines with
gum-arabic, or glue, or gums to make a powerful glass-mender. Mixed
with powdered glass, oxide of zinc, or whiting, powdered marble,
calcined bone, plaster of Paris, wood-ashes, &c., it can be worked like
putty. Mixed with colours it is used for stereochrome painting, a kind
Missing pieces of glass, such as leaves from a chandelier, can be
easily replaced with water-glass, and all cracks or defects glazed over
This mending is allied, however, to certain processes in art which are
so interesting that I venture on a description of them.
A great deal of mending and restoring in glass can be effected by
means of the blow-pipe and spirit-lamp or gas-flame. Difficult as
this may sound, it is not only an easy, but also a very curious and
entertaining, occupation. In any city an expert or workman may be found
who would give a few lessons. I have very often been impressed with
the fact that so little artistic invention or originality is found in
glass-work. Even the far-famed Venetian work is extremely limited, and
“mannered” or conventional, compared to what it might be.
The following is an old recipe for repairing glass:--Take finest
powdered glass, best mastic, with equal parts of white resin and
distilled turpentine. Melt all well together. To use, gradually warm
it and then apply.
Quicklime and white of egg, intimately rubbed into one another on a
flat surface, make a good cement for ordinary glass or pottery.
The cement of _gum-arabic_ is much stronger when made as follows:--Take
gum-arabic and dissolve it in acetic acid (vinegar) instead of water.
It must be melted in a hottish place, as it will in that case be much
better. The finest quality of sheet-gelatine makes a transparent glue,
invaluable where colour is to be avoided.
TO MEND A CRACKED GLASS BOTTLE OR DECANTER.--Heat the bottle, pressing
in the cork, till the hot air within expands the cracks, which must
be at once filled with the liquid glass. Then, as the water-glass is
driven in by the pressure of the outer air, as the bottle cools the
cracks are closed.
You cannot well mend a broken looking-glass, but something can be
done with the large pieces. Varnish or paste a piece of paper and lay
it on the quicksilver. Then with an American glass-cutter, price one
shilling, or a diamond-cutter, divide them into squares for small
mirrors. Two of these of equal size can easily be converted into a
folding kaleidoscope (not described by BREWSTER in his work on the
Kaleidoscope). Lay the two pieces face to face, and paste over the
whole, on the quicksilvered side, a piece of thin leather or muslin.
When dry, with a penknife, cut a slit down between the two on three
sides. It will then open and shut like a portfolio. This may serve
as a travelling, looking or shaving glass, but it is very useful to
designers of patterns. Place the glass upright on a table at a right
angle, or more or less, and lay between the mirrors any object or a
pattern, and you will see it multiplied from three to twelve times,
according to the angle. Beautiful variations of designs can thus be
made, _ad infinitum_. They may be used as reflectors, when placed
behind a light.
Take such a piece of looking-glass and lay a piece of paper on the
back, and then with an agate or ivory point write or draw on it, but
not as hard as to break the silvering. Then turn it to the sun or a
strong light, and let the reflection fall on a white surface. Though
nothing be perceptible on the face of the mirror, the writing will
appear in the reflection.
Glass is engraved as metal is etched; with this exception, that,
instead of sulphuric or nitric acids, fluoric acid is used. Both glass
and _china_ can also be directly etched with a steel point, aided by
emery powder; which latter art I have never seen described, but which
I have successfully practised. It is fully set forth in my forthcoming
work on “One Hundred Arts.”
Malleable glass, or at least that which does not break easily when let
fall, is prepared by dipping the objects made from it, while quite hot,
into oil. I conjecture that panes of window-glass thus prepared would
not be broken by hail, as I have observed that plate-glass is not.
It sometimes happens that goblets of thin glass--especially those which
have had a peculiar kind of annealing or tempering--ring beautifully
when blown on so as to vibrate them. The effect is almost magical on
one who hears it for the first time. I mention it that the reader
may, when he finds old Venetian or any other thin glass goblets for
sale, see if there be not among them a finely ringing one. An organ
could be thus made to play by wind. With regard to music on glass,
take any ordinary bottle, and by rubbing on it a cork a little wetted
you can, with a little practice, produce a startling imitation of
the chirping, and even warbling, of birds. I knew one who could thus
imitate to perfection nightingales and call forth responsive songs. The
effect depends in a degree on the quality of the cork, and also that
of the glass. With a violin-bow very musical sounds may be drawn from
the edge of a pane of glass. It seems as if these methods might also
be developed into musical instruments. It is well known that tubes of
glass suspended when a candle is placed beneath them give forth musical
sounds, often of great richness and strength. There are also the
musical glasses, which may be played in two ways, either by rubbing the
edges with a wetted finger or by filling the glasses more or less with
water till an octave is formed, and then tapping them with a stick of
wood. All of which has, indeed, nothing to do with mending glass, yet
which may not be without interest to those who wish to learn all its
Among GLASS CEMENTS in common use which can be recommended are the
well-known Polytechnic, also the Imperial Liquid Glue (no heating
required), Hayden & Co., Warwick Square, London. There is also a very
good glass cement made and sold by Keye, filter-maker, Hill Street,
The Venetians made ordinary glass goblets very beautiful by painting
on them in relief with a substance which I suspect was in some cases
a form of silicate, or else with a kind of paint which was not enamel,
yet which seems to have been partly vitreous. It rather resembles oil
paint with glass powder, but I doubt if it was this.
Working in glass implies the mending and restoration of stained-glass
windows; that is, of painting on glass and a study of designs. Of all
this there is almost a literature. Among other works I can commend _A
Book of Ornamental Glazing Quarries_, by A. W. Franks, £1, 1s.; _Divers
Works of Early Masters in Ecclesiastical Decoration_, by Owen Jones,
£3, 10s.; _Westlake’s History of Stained Glass_, vol. i., _Fourteenth
Century_, 13s. 6d.; vol. iii., _Fifteenth Century_, 18s., published by
Batsford, 52 High Holborn. At Rimmel’s, in Oxford Street, the reader
can generally obtain these, and all works on similar subjects at prices
much below the original cost.
A MENDING CEMENT FOR GLASS is made as follows:--
Common cheese 100
Slacked lime 20
This is found in many books of recipes. It must be observed that the
cheese is to be for sometime carefully pounded with the water till
quite soft, and the lime then very quickly stirred in. This is not only
useful to mend glass, but can be applied to many other purposes. The
cheese is best when fresh.
CASEINE (or pure cheese) can be combined with ease with liquid silicate
of soda (LEHNER), and thus forms a very strong cement for porcelain or
glass, or any other material. Fill a flask with one-fourth of fresh
caseine to three-fourths of silicate, and shake it thoroughly and
Another formula is as follows:--
Silicate of soda 60
This must be used very promptly, and the article mended dried in the
A CEMENT which may be used in several combinations is made by
dissolving fresh acidulated caseine (made by adding vinegar to milk,
and carefully washing the deposit) in a very little caustic lye. It
must be kept corked in bottles.
These _caseine_ or cheese or curd cements hold well, but do not well
resist water, except in powerful combination.
The excellence of cements depends to a great degree on the quality of
the materials and the scrupulous observance of care in making. Thus for
the following, for glass:--
Calcined lime 50
in which we have one of the commonest and oldest formulas, the value
depends on “the make-up” that is, the glue must be left in cold water
for two days, then boiled in a _balneum mariæ_, or a double kettle, in
lukewarm water; that is, it must not boil, or the glue will be weakened.
The so-called DIAMOND or TURKISH CEMENT, for glass or any other fine
work, has been known since early times as incredibly strong. Its
formula, according to Lehner, is as follows:--
I. Sturgeon’s bladder 20
Spirits of wine 60
II. Gum-mastic 10
III. Gum-ammoniac 6
These are three separate portions, No. I. being prepared by warming
and filtering. The gum-ammoniac is reserved from the others, and added
_after_ they are mingled.
A STRONG BASE FOR A CEMENT FOR GLASS, as well as wood or stone, is made
by gradually stirring finely sifted wood-ashes into silicate of soda,
or strong acid glue, till a syrup-like substance results. In America
the best ashes for this purpose are those of the hickory. Perhaps beech
wood yields them equally good.
There is a DIAMOND CEMENT which is of special value to attach gems to
rings or metal, to make coral or pearl or ivory adhere together, and,
in short, for all fine work where a very strong adhesive is required.
It is as follows:--
Sturgeon’s bladder 8
Spirits of wine 4
The sturgeon’s bladder is cut into small pieces and steeped in the
spirits, and the rest, in solution, then added. It must be warmed again
As this cement will bear long exposure to moisture before being at
all injured by it, it can be used as a medium for painting on glass,
and thereby producing effects very little inferior, either as regards
beauty or durability, to glass itself. The experiment can be easily
tried, as any chemist can make up the recipe. When finished, the
painting can be coated with liquid silicate of soda, which will give it
all the property of glass.
A LIME CEMENT FOR GLASS is made as follows:--
Calcined lime 30
Linseed-oil varnish 5
JEWELLERS’ CEMENT. Extremely strong:--
Fish-glue solution 100
Mastic varnish (pure) 50
The fish-glue must first be dissolved in spirits of wine.
TO JOIN GLASS AND METAL, &c.--Stir slacked and powdered lime in hot
glue. This sets as a very hard substance. It can be extensively
modified and varied for many substances, and used for painting.
CEMENT FOR GLASS:--
Oil of turpentine 10
The gum, sugar, and water are first carefully combined, and then the
turpentine well stirred with the mixture.
SALLE’S CEMENT FOR GLASS:--
Muriate of lime 2
Not commended by LEHNER, as being too soluble. TO CLOSE BOTTLES:--
Powdered resin 6
Caustic soda 2
To be thoroughly mixed and left for several hours. Before using, stir
well into it eight to nine parts of calcined plaster of Paris. This
will in half-an-hour take firm hold or “set,” and is waterproof. A good
filler for cracks.
The reader who desires to be perfectly informed as to glass in all its
relations can obtain, by application to J. BAER, Rossmarkt, Frankfort
on the Main, Germany, a catalogue which is perhaps the most extensive
on the subject ever published.
Coloured or stained glass windows may be repaired or made by the
following process, which has the advantage of being quite as durable
as any in which the colours are burned in:--Take two panes of glass,
and paint on one your pattern with fine varnish and transparent colour
mixed. When dry, go over the whole, with a broad, soft brush, with a
liquid mastic cement, which must be quite transparent and thin. Any
transparent strong cement will serve, but it is advisable to use the
mastic in all cases as a narrow border and at the edges. If you have an
engraving, especially one on very soft spongy paper, take a pane of
glass, cover it with a coat of varnish, and just before it dries press
the engraving face down, on it. When quite dry, with a sponge slightly
damped and the end of the finger, peel away all the soft paper, leaving
the lines of the engraving. These may now be coloured over, with even
very little skill and care. A very good effect may be produced, so
that a very indifferent artist can in this way produce very tolerable
pictures. Then, to better preserve this, double it with the other pane.
By painting and shading also on this _second_ pane, as I have
discovered, very beautiful and striking effects of light and shade can
be developed, so that this forms, as it were, a new art by itself. This
will remind the reader of the porcelain lamp-shades, which so much
resemble pictures in Indian ink; but the effects of the double panes
are more singular and far more varied. There may be even a third pane
employed. As the materials for this art are far from expensive, and
as it is extremely easy, I have no doubt that it will be extensively
practised. Protecting one glass picture by another is not a new art;
but I am not aware that the obtaining a series of lights by thus
reduplicating the panes has been practised.
A modification of it is as follows:--Cut out several panes,
corresponding to the size of the two glass covers, of quite transparent
paper or parchment, prepared by rubbing with oil or vaseline, lard, or
the like. Paint on these the required modifications of the picture.
The advantage of this is, that a great many shades can thus be given
in a thinner space, creating an astonishing effect. As this is not at
all a mere imitation of stained glass, and as it produces effects not
to be found in the latter, it may rank as an art by itself. The chief
of these effects is _relief_, especially shown in the human figure.
But the most extraordinary are the variations of chiaroscuro which
it affords, by availing himself of which the artist may create or
obtain striking suggestions for oil or _aquarelle_ pictures; for these
transparencies can be so infinitely and ingeniously varied that no one
can fail to derive from them many ideas.
This may be tested by simply preparing any picture, say of a statue,
a castle on a rock, or a face. Cut out from sheets of the same size
in very transparent paper a series of shadows adapted to it, and
adjust them. They may be all in monochrome or one colour, or in many
hues. They may range, with proper care, from almost imperceptible
shadow to opaque black. By beginning with only two stencils or shaded
pictures--for as regards these the artist must be guided by his own
skill--and gradually increasing the number, the proper adjustment
will soon be found. I advise the beginner in copying to proceed
from monochrome to two colours before attempting many. Teachers in
_aquarelle_ will find that such copies are--after a certain degree of
proficiency shall have been obtained--much superior to those commonly
used, as they come nearer to nature.
The most perfect form of this curious art is an improvement which,
I believe, is my own invention. This consists of introducing leaves
of painted _mica_ between the two glasses. In this way four grades
or tones of colour and light and shade can be made in a picture.
Mica-leaves can be made into one by using mastic cement. Rub the edges
with emery-paper to roughen them.
As I have already intimated, the materials for this work are so cheap
and the process so easy, that all which I here assert may be at once
verified by the outlay of a few shillings, with a few hours of time. It
is, in another form, the same thing as arranging lights around a statue
in a dark room, but adapted to all kinds of pictures.
As a Latin poet has declared, “It is an easy thing to add to arts,”
when a beginning has once been made (“_Inventis facile semper aliquid
addere_”), so I will add to this a curious discovery in glass made by
me in Venice a few years ago. I was being taken by Sir AUSTIN LAYARD
over his celebrated glass-factory. It was he who, with the aid of
Sir WILLIAM DRAKE, _first_ revived the almost forgotten manufacture
of glass in Murano. While standing with him by a furnace watching a
workman skilfully forming ornaments in glass, it suddenly occurred to
me that the Chinese were said to have possessed in remote times an
art, now lost, of making vases or bottles which appeared externally
to be quite plain, but on the surface of which, when red wine was
poured in, patterns or inscriptions appeared of the same colour. It at
once occurred to me that this could be perfectly effected by making a
bottle, on the interior of which the ground should be of considerable
thickness, say half-an-inch, while the inscription or pattern would be
no thicker than ordinary window-glass. Then if the whole exterior were
to be lightly ground on a wheel or sandpapered, the difference between
ground and pattern would not be perceptible until red wine or some
highly coloured fluid were poured in, when the pattern would at once
Sir AUSTIN LAYARD was so much struck by the suggestion that he sent at
once for his foreman, Signore Castellani, who said that he had heard
of such bottles, but always supposed it was a fable. He, however, at
once admitted that they could be made as I proposed, but added that
the expense would be so great as to render the invention practically
It has, however, since occurred to me that such bottles could be made,
and cheaply, as follows:--Take a Florence flask, and divide it into two
parts with a diamond, using a saw for the bottom. Then on the sides
within place the ground. It could be made of silicate of soda and
powdered glass or flint, or even of white wax, hardened with powdered
glass. Close the bottle with silicate, and grind the whole.
When any glass has been broken and mended, the fracture still
discernible may be thus concealed by grinding the surface, and in many
cases by surrounding it with a ring or tube of metal, also by one of
silicate, or with an ornament formed with it.
A glass stopper when too large can be easily filed down to fit. Should
the neck of the bottle be too narrow, it can also be enlarged by the
same process. When the rim of a goblet is fractured, it can be ground
down on a grindstone. I have done it with a file.
A pane of glass can be somewhat rudely cut into shape with a pair of
strong scissors, under water. In this, as in other things, practice
leads to perfection.
An old method of effectually closing bottles of wine was as
follows:--The edge of the opening on the top was ground down on a
stone, and a small disc of glass was exactly fitted to it. Heat was
then applied till both were in partial fusion and the cover was welded
to the bottle. A little powdered glass would aid the fusion, or it
could be effected with silicate without heating. The process is the
same as using glass stoppers, rather sunk in, and sealing up with
A broken champagne bottle is not easily mended, but I have seen one
curiously utilised. The bottom only had been broken, and it was cut off
round and evenly with a file. Within it there hung from the cork by a
cord a very large nail or small bolt of iron. Thus prepared, it made a
capital and appropriate dinner-bell. Here in Italy I have often seen
bells made of crockery or terra-cotta; their tone is better than would
IN MENDING AND MAKING MANY OBJECTS
“_In human industry, there is on an average a loss of fifty per
cent. in labour or material._”--Observations on Art, by CHARLES G.
There is no country in the world in which the art of mending is so
much required as in the United States of North America. The reason for
this is the extraordinary and sudden changes in temperature, causing
the expansion and contraction of cells and fibre, especially in wood,
which results in cracks. Thus seasoned furniture and carvings, which
have remained unchanged for centuries, it may be for a thousand years,
in any part of Europe, shrink and split very often within a month after
being placed in a drawing or dining room in Boston or Philadelphia, as
I know by sad experience. Thus I have known a very beautiful Italian
mandoline, three hundred years old, richly inlaid with ivory, to so
shrink and warp in America that a professional mender declared that
nothing could be done with it. The sounding-board had curled up like a
scroll and split, and the mosaic or inlaying had fallen out in bits.
In such a case, carefully detach the warped piece or pieces, and dampen
the concave side carefully with a sponge till it resumes its flatness
or usual form. When this is attained, take very thin shavings of a
firm wood, as thin as they can be shaved, and glue them transversely,
or _grain across grain_, to the under or plain side of the board. This
will probably prevent all warping in future, especially if the best
mastic and fish-glue is employed. It may here be noted that where the
shavings cannot be obtained, thin parchment or even note-paper may be
used, and that good, strong varnish, or not too thin, may be used for a
binder. There are many cases in which parchment or paper are preferable
to wood in repairing, as being less liable to warp or crack.
[Illustration: _Patterns cut from Wood-Shavings._]
WOOD-SHAVINGS, which are as yet but little utilised in art, have,
however, before them “a great future.” Combined with glue, or other
binders, they can be made, even under the hand-roller, into boards,
which have the advantage that they can be moulded, curved, or turned
to suit many emergencies which would require a great deal of saw or
It is not unusual to employ veneers, or very thin sheets of wood, as
a guard across the grain where shrinking is to be apprehended, as in
tablets for painting on or panels, and it is a great pity that this
very cheap precaution is so little used. But there are very few cases
in which shavings are not as applicable, and they have the great
advantage of being obtainable wherever there is a plane and wood.
Holes or defects in wood--for example, in American shingle roofs or the
clap-boarded sides of houses--can often be more cheaply and readily
repaired with shavings and glue (into which oil is infused) than by any
other means. And it may be observed that such a coating of shavings
and glue, laid on to a new roof, is the cheapest and most effective
protector against rain or sun or frost.
In certain work wood-shavings can be advantageously combined with paper
to give a solid, smooth surface and firm body. Here the paper-paste,
with or without sawdust, is first forced into the cavities, and the
Shavings and glue are excellent for the temporary repair of boats,
and if the mending be _properly executed_, it will be as durable as
the original wood. It would be an easy matter indeed to make a canoe
entirely of shavings and glue. If the hand-roller be well used and
thoroughly applied, the result will be a very firm fabric.
[Illustration: _Pattern to be cut out of Shavings and applied with Glue
to a Panel._]
It may be worth knowing in the wilderness, that where a backwoodsman
has a _plane_ (and he can always make one if he has a chisel, which,
again, can be made out of a knife-blade) he can make shavings, and
with these and some kind of _binder_--even clay--he can lay a dry, hard
floor, when perhaps boards are not to be obtained. The substratum may
be of beaten clay or stone. If of sufficient thickness and well rolled,
such a floor as this would be impervious to damp.
Any surface can be very well _veneered_ with shavings and glue.
Smooth the surface by pressure or rolling, and when dry glass-paper
it. Veneers are often not to be had; shavings may be got in every
Not only very strong and elastic canes, but even _bows_ of a superior
quality, can be made of shavings. The Indians in Pacific America make
the latter by pasting and pressing one shaving on another with great
care. It may be understood that where the grain, as in a piece of wood,
runs _altogether_ in one way, it will split with the grain. But where
it is not uniform or connected, and is very powerfully incorporated
by pressure with a good binder, we may easily have a very elastic and
tough fabric, not so likely to split as wood. Thus we can make from
hickory shavings a wood less liable to warp or split than the original
Wood-shavings and glue are admirably adapted to repair broken boxes
or any other articles of wood, especially for smoothing over roughly
mended surfaces and covering knot-holes or other defects. In all cases
when possible use the roller, and when pasting one piece on the other
cross the grains.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, such as guitars, violins, and mandolins, are
very easily repaired with shavings and glue; and this is, indeed, in
many cases, the very best means of reparation, since, while a piece
of wood may or may not injure the tone, the shavings always give a
good vibration. And where it is quite beyond the power of any ordinary
amateur, say a lady, to set in a piece of wood or apply one, or to
get it of a proper thickness, anybody with care can paste on thin
shavings--the thinner the better--till the defect is repaired. In
many cases parchment or paper will answer just as well, and I have
myself thus perfectly mended violins which were apparently beyond
all bettering, and got to the stage of _lasciate ogni speranza_, or
There are, however, many cases of badly fractured objects in which the
owner gives up hope, because it seems _impossible to make a beginning_.
Now, “whatever can be made can be mended” is true of everything except
morals, and even in these there is more to be done than men wot of. And
in a great number of these cases parchment strips, thin linen tape, or
especially wood-shavings, can be used with success. Bring the broken
edges together if they warp apart, and attach them with the strip and
strongest cement; that is, with small pieces of the “fastener.” Do not
attempt to do everything at once. When the edges are united and the
_binder_ dried, fill in all crevices or holes with a suitable paste
or “filler”--not too much at once, in certain cases. Then, as will
generally be required, cover the surface with thin shavings and binder;
as it dries, file or glass-paper it smooth. The shavings will make,
with mastic and fish-glue, in many cases, a far better repair than
could be effected with a piece of wood or parchment, because they will
never _split_, like the former, if they are applied lying transversely
or crossways, nor stretch like the latter.
It may depend, in many cases, on what _wood_ the shavings consist of.
As I have observed, even in the bush a plane can be made with a chisel
or a piece of a table-knife blade, set in a wooden block; but elsewhere
any carpenter will easily supply what is wanted, _ad libitum_.
The paste or filler of wood-powder or paper-pulp will be found
described in other chapters.
ORNAMENTAL WORK OF SHAVINGS--MARQUETRY
_A curious kind of ornament_ can be made by cutting out decorative
patterns, human figures, animals, flowers, &c., from shavings with
scissors or pen-knives, then glueing them on a smooth soft board.
Apply as much pressure as possible, so as to make them sink into the
wood, and when dry coat the whole with varnish, till an even surface
is established. Rub over the dried surface with finest glass or
emery-paper, and then smooth patiently with the palm of the hand. If
this be well executed the result will be a perfect imitation of inlaid
wood, although it is really an art by itself, which, I believe, is my
own invention. Thin veneers may also be used instead of shavings. Ebony
or walnut thus _appliqué_ on _larch_ or _holly_ make exquisite work.
This kind of ornament has great advantage over inlaid wood or
marquetry, for the pieces of which it consist are far less liable to
be detached or peel off, while it looks quite as beautiful. And be it
observed that, laid with a transverse grain, it prevents warping and
strengthens the ground, while inlaying weakens it; for to make the bed
for inlaying or mosaic we must excavate the bed till it is extremely
thin and liable to warp, whereas in shaving-work we make a light but
very strengthening addition.
A single experiment will suffice to convince the reader of the merits
of this very useful, elegant, and novel art. It is specially applicable
to ornamenting albums and book-covers, where it may be used even on
REPAIRING PANEL PICTURES WITH SHAVINGS
It is often a very difficult matter to obtain a thin panel or
strips and do all the work properly when we wish to put into shape
a warped panel, let us say of an old picture, which is on the point
of splitting. The inserting screws is very dangerous. I myself have
inadvertently thus made a fearful blemish in a Madonna’s face. But if
we use _shavings_ there is no such danger. Wet the back till the panel
is flat, and then _gradually_ glue on the shavings across the grain.
This is as well done with small bits as large. With a picture it would
be well to continue the coating to the thickness of one-third of an
inch or more, but a very thin coating will go far to prevent warping or
bending. The thinnest panels or veneers may be thus “backed up” into
solid boards. In all cases where practicable, use heavy pressure on the
“_Among the thousand mad schemes which were proposed by projectors
was one for making sawdust into boards._”--History of the South Sea
Very few people, even among workmen and artists, are aware of what
remarkable and curious restoration the most decayed pieces of wood are
capable. We will, however, begin with the simplest repairing, or that
When articles of furniture have been strongly and properly made of oak
or other hard wood, and as properly used, they will last for centuries;
and should some unforeseen accident take away legs or arms, they can be
perfectly replaced, especially in the admirable old-fashioned German
objects of the kind, which were all put together with wooden pins or
by means of mortise and tenon, so that, when need required, they could
be packed as boards;--nor were they the less elegant for this. But if
furniture be simply sawed from soft, cheap deal or poplar, and merely
glued together (as most cheap furniture made in England is), it will
soon warp and break up, and all the mending in the world will not make
it better than it was when new. Glue is, therefore, the great material
for most woodwork, and, as I shall show, in two very different forms.
Having a broken chair-leg, which can, however, be fitted together,
first prepare your glue in a proper kettle--that is, a _balneum mariæ_,
or one kettle in another. In the outer is only boiling water; in the
inner the glue, mixed with water. The reason for this is, that glue,
when softened with water, dries up very rapidly under the action of air
or fire, while the softer heat of water keeps it, so to speak, “alive.”
But if, while the glue is soft, we pour, say, a teaspoonful of nitric
acid into half-a-pint of glue, it will remain soft a much longer
time--which is a valuable secret to many, especially where large, broad
surfaces of veneers are to be glued on, and where, the process being
slow, it is desirable for the adhesive to remain soft for many minutes.
And here I would mention that the acid-glue will remain in a liquid
state for one year if tightly corked up in a bottle. Its only defect is
a disagreeable, pungent smell.
This glue can be improved by being made as follows:--Take of best glue
three parts, place them in eight parts of water, and allow the mixture
to soak some hours. Take half a part of hydrochloric or muriatic
acid and three-quarters of a part of sulphate of zinc; add to these
the glue, and keep the whole at a moderately high temperature till
fluid--that is to say, boil the glue as usual in a _balneum mariæ_
or in hot water, after soaking it all night in water. Then stir in
the hydrochloric (or muriatic) acid and sulphate of zinc. This is a
first-class glue. Keep it in a bottle with an oiled cork; any other
stopper would adhere. But for all ordinary work the glue, with nitric
acid, will suffice, as it holds with great tenacity to anything.
This glue, which keeps liquid for a long time, and which holds without
scaling off, as common glue often does, may also be made with _very
strong_ vinegar. The latter, in fact, amounts to the same thing in
most European countries, but especially in the United States, where,
according to the New York _Tribune_, there is literally no vinegar
sold or made, save from sulphuric acid and water. Perhaps when mankind
shall have reached a higher stage of civilisation, all dealers will
be compelled by law to place on every article of food sold the list
of ingredients of which it is composed. We should then know how much
oleomargarine passes for butter, and what proportion of “delicious
conserves” are manufactured from apples alone or turnips.
Observe that in glueing ordinary wood together the two pieces to be
attached should be gradually but very well _heated_ first. This renders
them more inclined to “take” the glue. This is applicable to other
Also note that when two surfaces have been made to adhere with ordinary
water-glue, should they come apart when cold, it is very difficult to
make them unite again. But this is not the case with acid-glue. And if
you have such surfaces which will not unite, wash them with nitric acid
or very strong vinegar, and the glue then applied will “take.” Also
observe that the acid-glue is far stronger than the common kind.
Having the broken leg fitted, first with a narrow gimlet or brad-awl
make a hole crossing the fracture, then glue the pieces together, and
before the glue dries put a screw or two through the hole; _i.e._,
_screw_ the pieces together. This will hold perfectly, if you will sink
the head of the screw in the wood, smooth it with a file, then putty it
over and paint it.
It seems strange that anything can be so mended as to be stronger
than before; yet this is literally true as regards the broken leg of
a chair, a cane, a beam, the mast or spar of a vessel, or any similar
long piece of wood. This is effected as follows:--Cut the two separated
pieces into two exactly fitting “steps” or mortises, as shown in this
Fasten these with glue and screws; or, better still, by adding to both
two sliding, tightly fitting ring-tubes, or one long one. This will
actually make the stick stronger than it was at first. The rings should
be covered with paper, glued, and then painted and varnished.
The processes of glueing and screwing are applicable to most fractures
of furniture. Where a piece of wood is broken away, it, or a similar
piece, must be inserted. When wood is warped it may be straightened
by applying wet towels. Observe that if a flat panel is warped thus--
[Illustration] you must wet the upper or concave side, put it under
heavy weight, and as soon as it becomes straight, screw it down with
transverse strips. Drawers which are made from badly seasoned wood
are a grief to the heart. They warp and stick. When you find that
such is the case you can save yourself much annoyance by examining
them, planing away the obstructions, and nailing transverse strips of
wood across; that is to say, pieces in which _the grain_ of the strip
crosses that of the wood. Very good and well-seasoned English furniture
often warps badly in India; therefore it should be thus protected.
This can in most cases be better done with strips of metal. In large
wardrobes, presses, or chests, where there are broad and often thin
panels, this precaution should always be taken. As I write I have just
seen two exquisitely painted and valuable pictures on panel, one of
which had curved and split in two, while the other was badly warped for
want of such a precaution, which would have cost only a penny’s worth
of strip and screws and half-an-hour’s work to save them.
It will very often happen in mending furniture that neither nail, glue,
nor screw can be relied on. In such case bore with a suitable gimlet
and pass wire through the hole. Flexible wire twisted in two strands,
with the ends properly secured, say to the head of a screw, all being
sunk beneath the level, will hold almost anything.
Frames for looking-glasses or pictures often “spring” at the joints.
In such cases a screw with acidulated glue will make them permanently
Always put handles to drawers. The vile invention or device of using
the key for a handle is by far too common. Metallic handles of brass
are preferable to wooden knobs. Keys are often lost, or else break.
The bottom of a drawer should always be secured by screws.
When the bottom of a drawer, as frequently happens, shrinks and becomes
too short, so that there is a long opening, the latter should be filled
with a strip of wood. The chief cause why modern furniture is apt to
become loose or separate is chiefly due to its being made either of
unseasoned or soft wood, such as weak deal or poplar, which absorbs
moisture from the air and then dries and shrinks, or because it is made
of too many pieces only glued together, and that with cheap, bad glue.
RESTORING DECAYED WOOD.--The worst cases of decay or of worm-eaten
wood can be perfectly restored in this manner:--Take fine sawdust of
the same kind of wood as the original. Let it be as fine as possible,
either cut with a refined saw or powdered in a mortar. Sift it. Then
with acidulated glue, or else plain, clear, white Salisbury glue for
light wood, make a paste, well mixed. With this you can fill up holes
(using a spatula or flexible knife or ivory paper-knife). But, what
is more, you can thus make a very strong _artificial wood_ which can
be moulded into any form, and when dry polished by cutting over the
surface with a chisel or flat gouge, and using a file or glass-paper to
finish. In fact, you can mould or model figures with this wood-paste by
itself. Putty is generally used for such repairs, but the wood-paste is
like wood, and quite as durable.
If you have a mould of plaster of Paris, boil it in oil, clean it, and
then oil it. With the wood-paste you can make ornaments which can be
applied to plain wood surfaces.
Splints, fractures, cracks, holes, corners broken away, are all easily
restored with wood-paste. In moulding it the fingers should be oiled to
prevent its sticking.
Any kind of dry sawdust can thus be converted into a paste, which, when
dry, becomes wood. It may be very much hardened under a hydraulic-press
or by a wooden hand-roller. Housekeepers should use this composition
for filling up rat-holes, or any kind of crevices in furniture, or
panels, or doors and walls, especially where such cracks harbour
It would be perfectly possible to construct an entire house of such
wood-cement, and one which would be perfectly durable, or even more so
than wood, since beams and planks thus made never crack, split, nor
warp. With it the boldest vaulting and arch work can be more easily
made than in stone or with wood, as the latter is usually worked.
As builders in Turkey form domes by making circles of clay or mud,
and gradually add to the first a smaller one, so by using wood-paste
the largest space could be covered or domed over without building
a scaffolding. There are many places in the world where (as in the
prairies of America, Russia, and Hungary) large timber is wanting,
but where small wood for sawdust is more available, and yet where, as
cattle abound, glue would be very cheap. This material deserves more
serious attention than it has ever received.
More than twenty years after I had invented, or at least projected and
put in practice, this method of making artificial wood, I found the
following in the _Manuel Général du Modelage_, par F. Goupil; Paris, Le
“To make vases, take fine dry sawdust and pass it through a sieve. It
may be made into a paste with a compound of turpentine, resin, and wax.
Or mix the adhesive with five parts of best strong white glue (_colle
de Flandre_) to one part of fish-glue. Melt them separately, ... pour
them together, boil to a proper consistency, and mix with the sawdust.
By this process figures can be cast which, when finished by hand,
exactly resemble carved wood.”
Another recipe is to take 750 grammes of strong glue to 1½ kilogramme
of gall nuts. To be mixed cold. Mix in hot water with sawdust.
Since writing the foregoing I have found the following recipe in a MS.
of 1780, a family heirloom kindly lent me by Miss Roma Lister:--
* * * * *
“_To cast Wood in Moulds as fine as Ivory, of a fragrant Smell, and
indifferent Colours._--Dry Lime Tree wood sawdust in a pan by a gentle
fire, and beat it to a fine powder in a stone mortar. Sift it through
Cambric, and keep it in a dry place free from dust. Then add to an
equal quantity of Gum Tragacanth and Gum Arabic 4 times the quantity
of Parchment Glue. Boil them in Pump Water, and filter through Linen.
Stir into it the Wood powder till it becomes of the substance of a
thick pastry; stir it all together, and set it in a glazed pan in hot
sand, for the moisture to evaporate till it be fit for casting. Mix
your colours with the Paste, and to give it a Scent put Oil of Cloves
or Roses or the like, which, if you please, you may mix with powdered
Amber. Anoint the mould with Oil of Almonds, and put your paste into
it. Let it dry for 4 or 5 days, then take off your mould, and the
Images will be as hard as Ivory. You may cut, turn, carve, and plane
this wood, and it will have a fine scent. The mould may be Plaster of
Paris, but it were better made of metal.”
I would add to this, that where heavy pressure or hand-rolling can be
applied this becomes really hard. Also note that any light, dry wood
of fine texture can be dried and powdered for this purpose. The paste,
even with common fine glue, can be used for very fine repairing. By
sifting and pulverising, the dust may be made as fine as flour. A
little calcined and powdered glass adds to its strength.
To make _panels_ for furniture, walls, or boxes, take firstly a thin
panel of seasoned wood, fasten two strips of sheet-tin across the back
to prevent warping, and make or apply the cast to this. Very beautiful
work can thus be produced very cheaply.
It may be here observed that this principle of mixing a powdered
substance with glue or gum or an adhesive runs through all the arts of
mending. The powder of cocoa-nut shells, slate, of paper, plaster of
Paris, of leather, clay, lime, fine sand, and many other substances,
can all be combined with adhesives, acids, or chemical solvents in
such a manner as to form what may be called generically _cements_, or
substances, or _pastes_, which become hard. Any glue or gum, or liquid
which will make two surfaces adhere, can be mixed with most organic or
inorganic hard substances in powder so as to form a paste which, when
dry, forms a solid, hard substance, because the grains of the powder
are thereby cemented together. Most of these yield to the action of
water, but there are a few which resist both water and fire, all of
which will be described in this work.
Broken ebony can be filled in cracks with a very neat and dainty
paste or cement made as follows:--Take dried rose-leaves, or any
others as soft, steep them in just enough water to soften them, add
of gum-tragacanth and gum-arabic just enough to make a paste, and
sufficient ivory black to give it an ebony colour. Macerate the whole
in a mortar. In the East a few drops of otto of roses or of geranium
are added. From this heads are made, also medallions, or any other
small objects. The composition sets very hard, and much resembles
ebony. I have made many small objects of it myself, and can testify
to its excellence. It is in this manner that the black rosaries from
Constantinople are made.
A very good cement for filling cracks in furniture or other woodwork
is made as follows:--One part of finely powdered resin and two parts
of yellow wax are melted together, and to this is added two parts of
finely pulverised ochre, or other suitable colouring earthy substance.
This is an excellent cement in all respects, except that it yields
to great heat. For all such repairing sawdust and glue is much to be
In repairing furniture, remember the screws hold much more firmly if
they are just dipped in boiling beeswax or turpentine. If you are not
accustomed to screwing or nailing, just make a hole with a brad-awl,
else you will find the screw or nail going out of the side of the box,
or in some other undesired direction.
Clamps, or pieces of wood connected by screws, ties, or elastic bands,
are indispensable in much glueing pieces together. They are, however,
easily made. A good clamp can be made by bending over the two ends of a
strong piece of wire. Hammer the ends into the wood.
Glue is more elastic when mixed with a little glycerine. This should
be borne in mind when mixing glue with sawdust to form artificial
wood, and, in fact, in many manufactures and combinations where it is
specially desirous to have a certain degree of toughness or flexibility
in the object made.
To utilise waste matter is allied to mending, which is only preventing
waste. For this purpose common wood-shavings may be used for a pretty
art. Take good shavings of any wood, and after moistening them with
glue or gum tragacanth and arabic, press them flat. Trim them with
scissors into leaves, or make them into flowers, and attach them
together. Then pour over them liquid plaster of Paris, in which there
is gum-arabic and alum dissolved. Take a bush, or plant without leaves,
and gum the leaves to it or to its twigs. Cover bare places with the
gypsum. When dry varnish the whole. A Professor HEIGELIN, in Stuttgart,
once had an exhibition of such work. Frames can be decorated in this
manner. Paint, gilding, and enamel, or bronze powders, can, of course,
be applied. Shavings combined with weak glue submitted to pressure form
artificial wood or boards, which can be improved by further combination
with waste-paper. Made with a solution of alum it is fireproof. Its
strength will be in proportion to the pressure applied. It can often
be employed in repairing when suitable wood is wanting, and has the
advantage that it can be turned to any shape.
The reader can easily satisfy himself by experiment that these
artificial woods made from sawdust or shavings, combined with
adhesives, are very easy to manufacture, very cheap, and, when properly
made, extremely strong. When strong pressure or rolling can be
applied, the quantity of adhesive may be diminished. Linen or muslin
rags, cotton-wool, or any textile fabric can be added to the shavings,
as well as waste-paper of all kinds. Anything fibrous or stringy will
aid in the binding.
This subject may be studied in detail in a work entitled _Die
Verwerthung der Holtzabfälle_--The rendering valuable of Refuse-Wood,
such as Shavings, Refuse Dye-Wood, &c., showing how they may be
converted to Artificial Wood, Fuel, Chemicals, Explosives, &c.--by
ERNST HUBBARD; Vienna, price 3 marks.
Wood of all kinds is in America sawed into such thin veneers that they
are used to serve as wall-paper, being attached with paste. When damp
they bend like paper. Such veneer is very useful for repairing wooden
Common putty is not always to be trusted in for repairing wood. It
sometimes shrinks, and is never very hard. The glue with glycerine and
sawdust or cocoa-nut dust is preferable.
“Scratches and chance cuts may be remedied by merely melting or washing
and rubbing in with cold water. But for most small defects a _filler_
is used. This is a kind of paint or liquid cement, the object of which
is to fill up the pores of certain coarse woods and make the surface
fine. Soft wax, flour, and varnish are used for this purpose.”
Any dealer in paints and varnishes will supply a filler for any special
Staining or colouring wood is an important part of repairing. “Oiling
alone is a kind of colouring, for all oiled wood becomes much darker
in a short time.”
Soda dissolved in water gives to oak wood a much darker tone. Dark tea
and alum is also useful, and still better very strong coffee. Also
porter or beer mixed with umber. Also a decoction of walnut-leaves
boiled down. In using these or any other colours the following rules
must be strictly observed:--(1.) Use a sponge or brush, and do not
apply the dye freely or pour it on, as you will run great risk of
warping the wood or making it split. (2.) Exercise the greatest care in
drying it near a fire. (3.) Do not expect to colour all at once by a
profuse application. However light the colour may seem, always when it
is dry rub off the colour with a rag or chamois-skin, and then make a
second wash. This process will make the dye strike in deeper and last
STEVENS’ Stains, also those of MANDER, are very good and strong. They
generally require dilution.
Ammonia is much used to give wood a dark rich colour. Wood thus
treated, if afterwards exposed to the smoke of a wood fire, assumes
a very ancient appearance. Bichromate of potash with water is a good
dark dye, but it must be carefully handled, as it is very poisonous
and injurious to clothing. It is used to give a waterproof quality to
Good writing-ink is a very good black dye. When it is quite dry, oil,
rub, and polish it, and the ink will resist a great deal of wetting.
It should be remembered that with ink, as with dyes, there should
always be at least two applications, and that the first should be
very thoroughly dried, if possible, in a strong light, though not in
sunshine, before the second is laid on. Three coats of blackest ink
well dried in, then rubbed in well, and finally oiled, form an almost
When panels of marquetry or of inlaid wood of different colours are
broken away or require to be replaced, it can be done in the following
manner:--Take a panel of very firm fine white wood--holly is the best;
next to it Swiss or German larch--draw on it your pattern, and then
with a penknife go over all the pattern, cutting into the panel about
a quarter of an inch, or rather less--in no case far enough to cut
through. Then carefully fill all these lines with a firm cement, and
let it dry well. Then with a dye--not with paint--color each piece
appropriately. The cement and lines will prevent the dye from spreading
from piece to piece. This is known as Venetian marquetry. When
finished, apply _Soehnée_ varnish, and rub down very carefully by hand.
It is a very beautiful and easy work, not to be distinguished when well
done from real inlaying. Very cheap and plain old furniture can be
easily made very elegant by having panels, &c., of this work applied.
The reader may begin with a small box or three-legged stool, working
directly on the wood, and will then probably be encouraged to proceed.
Dark brown patterns on light yellow wood look well.
This work is very easy and elegant, very little made, and may be
therefore profitable. Any kind of light or white wood, such as deal or
pine, may be used for common decoration. Cheap violins and guitars are
sometimes made into handsome ornaments for rooms by this process. For
designs for this purpose consult the Manuals of Design, Wood-Carving,
and Leather-Work, by the Author (Whittaker & Co., No. 2 White Hart
Street, London, E.C.).
Marquetry may also be mended by making and colouring wood-paste, in
which case prepare the ground with great care, by roughening, to hold
the glue; also by using coloured cements, such as bread, well worked
with powder and glycerine-glue.
It does not seem to occur to many people--even to those living in the
country--that there is a great deal of strong, plain, useful furniture
which can be easily made at home at no very great expense, boards of
good quality being cheap enough. With a few lessons from an expert, or
even with the study of a good elementary manual of cabinetmaking, any
amateur can succeed. Whoever can make a good box can make an antique
chair, and this can, however plain, be carved, stained, or marquetried
into beauty; but let him beware of sawed curves.
Where there are worms in furniture or other wood, they should always
be very promptly exterminated, else they will destroy it in time.
To remove them, dissolve 2 drachms of corrosive sublimate in 2 oz.
of methylated spirit and 2 oz. of water, to be applied freely with
a feather or brush. This is an unfailing remedy; but the mixture is
poisonous, and therefore should be kept labelled out of harm’s way
(_Work_, Sept. 1892).
In restoring or repairing woodwork we must have some knowledge not only
of paints, varnishes, putties, and filling, but also of agents which
prevent organic change or are applicable to peculiar accidents. One
of the principal of these is known as _knotting_. Its properties and
general nature are freely explained in the following article from _The
Decorator_, Sept. 1892:--
* * * * *
“‘Knotting,’ or, as it is usually written, _Patent Knotting_, is
a quick-drying, semi-transparent fluid. It is made from naphtha
and shellac; hence its quick-drying nature. The knots of woodwork,
especially pine, contain much resin, which gradually exudes from the
surface. This resin will speedily darken, and ultimately destroy, the
covering film of oil paint with which woodwork is usually coated. The
object of coating knots in woodwork with ‘patent knotting composition’
is to seal up, so to term it, the resin. In the earlier history of
house-painting processes a mixture of red lead and strong glue-size,
applied warm, was often used. The chief point in view is to stop the
‘cause,’ but without objectionable ‘effect;’ therefore the thinnest
perceptible covering--so long as it is effectual--is the best. The
_patent knotting_ of commerce is the article now generally purchased
and used. The knots are given one or two _bare_ coatings--according to
the nature of the knot, and the conscience of the workman. The best
knotting is the colour of dark oak varnish; the worst is the blackest
and dirtiest-looking. It always pays to have the best knotting, since
‘black knotting’ requires an extra coat of paint to cover the dark
patches which ‘grin through’ any light tints. For the best work it is
usually advisable--especially when the woodwork has to be finished, and
perhaps hand-polished, in ‘ivory-white’ enamel--to have the knots cut
out with a chisel or gouge, then fill up with lead ‘filling-up’ in
distemper. I recently had to have the door of an elaborately decorated
drawing-room so treated, since, despite being fresh knotted, the resin
began to discolour the work, which had received some six coats of paint
and enamel, ere the room was furnished--a very annoying and costly
matter. Very occasionally knots are gilded over with best gold-leaf;
this is generally conceded to be an effectual plan to adopt, when
gouging is not resorted to, for finest work. Knotting woodwork is,
therefore, not an insignificant detail of house-painting, especially
when we are dealing with a door-side; that alone, when finished in
hand-polished enamel, may cost a ten-pound note to produce. ‘Tin-paint’
will do for common priming; good linseed oil is the chief element
required. All new woodwork requires three coats of good lead and oil
paint before standing any time--viz., priming and two after-coats. This
is known as ‘builders’ finish.’ When permanently decorated it usually
requires ‘getting up’ to a proper surface, and two or three more coats.”
* * * * *
It is sometimes an advantage to “gouge”--_i.e._, to cut--out a bad knot
and fill the cavity with wood, wood-paste, or _carton-pierre_.
A very beautiful stain can be given to wood by rubbing it with nitric
or sulphuric acid, and exposing it to the heat of a fire. In this way
American hickory can be made to look like rosewood. Pine becomes red,
which grows darker with increased heat.
MENDING FURNITURE.--There is but one rule for repairing creaky chairs
and tables with loose legs. They must be _carefully_ taken apart,
which can be done with chisels, a knife, and hammer, and then glued
and screwed or put together again as they were originally made. The
old-fashioned rounds or rungs of chairs, now so seldom seen, were a
great aid to strength and durability.
I have already remarked that when a drawer in a bureau table is
troublesome by continually sticking or catching, take it out, find
where it rubs, and plane away the obtrusive portion. If it is made of
badly seasoned, green, warping wood, nail across it strips of tin. To
which I add that doors of closets, cabinets, &c., which are shrunk must
have strips of wood glued to their edges. In some cases strips of paper
will do as a temporary substitute.
It is no exaggeration whatever to declare that two or three centuries
ago the slight and trashily made article of furniture was a great
exception, while at the present day it is the well-made, durable
article which forms the rarity--to the great shame, be it said,
firstly, of all furniture-makers, and, secondly, to fashionable
“taste,” which prefers slightness to strength.
This trashy and flimsy lightness is vastly to the profit of the
cabinetmaker, since he can thus utilise the cheapest and smallest
pieces of worthless wood by turning them into supports for light
_étagères_ or shelves, cross-backs and legs of spider-like little
chairs, and all parts of small curved sofas, which are to be duly
puttied, French polished, or completely hidden in velveteen or rep.
It is not unusual to see what is considered a handsomely furnished
room in which there is not one absolutely well-made or strong article
which would bear careful examination or turning up. It is a pitiful
sight indeed to see a load of such furniture on its way from the
cabinetmakers, or the mill where it is sawed out by steam, to the
place where it is to be veneered or painted, glazed, and clothed into
elegance. The pieces of refuse pine wood and American greenish-yellow
poplar stuck together with glue, and as few short nails as possible,
look so shammy and shabby! I have wondered, in beholding them, at
the marvellous boldness of their makers, who could deliberately
calculate the time that such stuff would endure before its _débacle_.
And as it is all destined to be broken and mended sometime or
other, it is the more necessary that the art of repairing should be
studied. Unfortunately, badly seasoned deal cannot be repaired into
well-seasoned oak. Yet he who will take the pains to ascertain the
price of the latter will be amazed to learn that so few people have it
made into good, solid, strong furniture. “It is not _there_ that the
expense comes in.” If the reader, having some sense or taste in art,
would make his own furniture, employing an assistant at six shillings
a day to do the rough sawing and planing, he would find that he could
have strong, substantial furniture; and if he would add to this so much
knowledge of panel-carving as he could acquire in a few lessons, he
might make it beautiful.
A CEMENT FOR WOOD is made as follows:--
This is carefully worked into a thickish milk-like mass. It may be
used as a glue for wood or as a paste for paper. It admits of many
modifications. To make a very good waterproof cement for wood, as
well as other purposes, take this cement when it shall have hardened,
or after it has been applied, and wash it over frequently with a very
strong extract of gall-apples. This forms, according to LEHNER, an
insoluble union with caseine.
A CEMENT MUCH EMPLOYED IN CHINA to combine and make woodwork,
basket-work, pasteboard, &c., waterproof is made as follows:--
Slacked lime 100
Stirred ox-blood 75
This is commended as being very strong and durable. It is probable that
a slight increase of the alum in solution, or an addition of strong
infusion of gall-apples, would improve it.
A WATER-PROOF CEMENT FOR WOODEN CASKS is made as follows:--
Strong solution of glue 10
Linseed-oil varnish 5
Oxide of lead 1
Boil together for ten minutes. T