There are at present five principal varieties of papier-mache known in the trade, viz.: 1. Sheets of paper pasted together upon models. 2. Thick sheets or boards produced by pressing ordinary paper pulp between dies. 3. Fibrous slab, which is made of the coarse varieties of fibre only, mixed with some earthy matter, and certain chemical agents introduced for the purpose of rendering the mass incombustible. A cementing size is added, and the whole well kneaded together with the aid of steam. The kneaded mass is passed repeatedly through iron rollers, which squeeze it out to a perfectly uniform thickness. It is then dried at a proper temperature. 4. Carton pierre, which is made of pulp or paper mixed with whiting and glue, pressed into plaster piece-moulds, backed with paper, and, when sufficiently set, hardened by drying in a hot room. 5. Martin's Ceramic Papiermache, a new composition, patented in 1858, which consists of paper pulp, resin, glue, drying oil, and sugar of lead, mixed in certain fixed proportions and kneaded together. This composition is extremely plastic, and may be worked, pressed, or moulded into any required form. It may be preserved in this plastic condition for several months by keeping the air away, and occasionally kneading the mass.
The first-mentioned variety of papier-mache alone engages our attention here. A special kind of paper, of a porous texture, is manufactured for this purpose. An iron mould, of somewhat smaller size than the object required, is greased with Russian tallow. A sheet of the paper is laid on to the greased surface of the mould, and covered over with a coat of paste made of the best biscuit flour and glue, which is spread evenly all over the sheet with the hands; another sheet is then laid on, and rubbed down evenly, so that the two sheets are closely pasted together at all points. After this the mould is taken to the drying chamber, where it is exposed to a temperature of about 120. When quite dry, which it takes several hours to accomplish, it is carried back to the pasting-room, and another sheet is laid on, with another coat of paste, after which it is returned to the drying chamber; and the same operation is repeated over and over again, until a sufficient thickness is attained, which, for superior articles such as are manufactured at these works, requires from 30 to 40 sheets of paper, and of course as many coats of paste between. The shell is then removed from the mould, and planed to shape with a carpenter's plane, after which it is dipped in linseed-oil and spirits of tar to harden it; this changes the color from gray to a dingy yellowish-brown tint. The article is then stoved, and 7 or 8 coats of varnish are laid on (with a stoving after each), which are cleared off each time, any equalities of surface being finally removed with pumice-stone. The number of drying processes the articles have to go through consume so much time that it takes 3 or 4 weeks to fit them for ornamentation, which is applied in bronze-powder, gold, or color, and, for many articles, also in mother-of-pearl. The ornamentation of these articles is sometimes effected in the highest style of the painter's art.
The gold-leaf is laid on with a solution of isinglass in water, the design then pencilled on with asphaltum, the superfluous gold removed with a dossil of cotton dipped in water, which leaves intact the parts touched with asphaltum, and the latter finally removed with essence of turpentine.
After the application of every coat of color or varnish, the object so colored or varnished is dried in an oven or chamber, called a stove, and heated by flues to as high a temperature as can safely be employed without injuring the articles, or causing the varnish to blister.
For black grounds, drop ivory-black mixed with darkcolored anime varnish is used; for colored grounds, the ordinary painters' colors, ground with linseed-oil or turpentine, and mixed with anime varnish.
The colors are protected against atmospheric influences, and made to shine with greater brilliance, by 2 or 3 coats of copal or anime varnish. Superior articles receive as many as 6 or 6 coats of varnish, and are finally polished.
The ornamentation of all such articles as come under the head of toilet wares is effected by the ordinary mode of painting with the camel's-hair pencil, or some fitting substitute; where imitation of woods or marble is intended, the ordinary grainers' tools are used. Many patterns are produced upon the various articles by "transfer printing." Designs in mother-of-pearl are laid on with black varnish; the article is then varnished all over, dried, then rubbed down over the design with pumice-stone; another coat of varnish is then laid on, dried, and the part covering the design again rubbed off with pumice stone; and thus several coats are laid on, until all the surface is level with that of the design. Ornamental lines writing, etc., are laid with color. The inlaying with mother-of-pearl is a laborious business, owing to the small size of the pieces at the artist's disposal, and the necessity of attending to a proper distribution and fitting of lights and shades.
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