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Title: The Decoration of Leather - From the French of Georges de Récy
Author: Récy, Georges de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Decoration of Leather - From the French of Georges de Récy" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Note: The original publication has been replicated
faithfully except as shown in the TRANSCRIBER’S AMENDMENTS near the end of
the text. To preserve the alignment of tables and headers, this etext
presumes a mono-spaced font on the user’s device, such as Courier New.
Words in italics are indicated like _this_.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: 1. BLIND-STAMPED LEATHER BINDING OF THE _WINCHESTER
DOMESDAY BOOK_. ENGLISH, 12TH CENTURY.]



                             THE DECORATION
                               OF LEATHER

                           FROM THE FRENCH OF
                            GEORGES DE RÉCY

                                   BY
                              MAUDE NATHAN

                   WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND EXAMPLES OF
                    LEATHER DECORATION FROM VARIOUS
                                SOURCES


                                 LONDON
                      ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO LTD
                                  1905


                            BUTLER & TANNER,
                      THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,
                           FROME, AND LONDON.



                           TRANSLATOR’S NOTE


In a preface which is omitted from this translation, the author claims for
his work a place between the books dealing solely with the history and
development of the art of working in leather and those of which the object
is to impart a knowledge of the technique of its various processes to
amateurs who may be unable or unwilling to undertake a regular course of
instruction. He points out that leather, in its adaptability to many
different kinds of treatment, is a material eminently suited to the
interpretation of the style of decoration known as “modern art.”

In the French edition there are numerous reproductions of examples of
leather decoration and of ornament intended for adaptation to
leather-work. In the following translation these illustrations and also a
short chapter referring to them are omitted, and some examples of
leather-work derived from various English sources are substituted. The
text of the work has been generally somewhat abridged. The fact that there
are many technical and other terms in French that have no exact equivalent
in our own language, has rendered a free translation desirable, but the
meaning of the original text has been carefully preserved.



                                CONTENTS


                                                         PAGE

  TRANSLATOR’S NOTE                                         5

  INTRODUCTION
  THE DECORATION OF LEATHER IN THE PAST                    13

  CHAPTER I
  TOOLS AND LEATHER                                        15

  CHAPTER II
  METHODS OF WORKING IN LEATHER                            19

  CHAPTER III
  LEATHER MOSAIC                                           42

  CHAPTER IV
  DYES, _PATINES_ AND GILDING                              64

  CHAPTER V
  THE CHOICE OF DESIGN AND COLOUR                          76

  APPENDIX
  LEATHER HANGINGS AND FURNITURE                           80

  NOTE
  SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON
  LEATHER FOR BOOKBINDING, APPOINTED BY THE COUNCIL
  OF THE SOCIETY OF ARTS, FEBRUARY, 1900                   90

  INDEX                                                    96



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                       ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT

  FIG.                                                          PAGE

  1.   Tracing-point                                              20

  2, 3. Incising knife used downwards like a pencil               21

  4, 5. Incising knife used upwards                               22

  6, 7. Incising knife held like a graver and pushed forward      23

  8. Executing a slanting cut when the edge of the leather
      is to be subsequently turned up                             24

  9. Opener                                                       25

  10. Enlarging the outline with the opener                       25

  11. Slanting cut                                                26

  11a. Showing the difficulty of raising the inner edge _A_       26

  12. Lowering the outer edge with a modeller                     29

  13. Ball-shaped steel tool with handle                          32

  14. Position of hands in embossing leather                      32

  15. Tool for working reed decoration                            34

  16. Using a hand punch                                          36

  17. Cutting-out knife                                           40

  18. Paring knife                                                43

  19. Paring knife                                                43

  20. Paring leather                                              44

  21. Cutting-out knife                                           46

  22. Cutting-out knife                                           46

  23. Cutting-out knife                                           46

  24. Cutting out inlay                                           48

  25. Using roller to secure adhesion of inlay                    51

  26. First position of outlining tool                            53

  27. Second position of outlining tool                           53

  28. Gouge outliner                                              56

  29. Outlining wheel                                             56

  30. Gouge outliner                                              56

  31. Straight outliner                                           56

  32. Polishing mosaic                                            57

  33, 34. Sticking inlay on morocco ground with tool (Fig. 33)
          instead of roller, to avoid crushing the grain          60


                        FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS

  PLATE                                                        _Page_

  1. Blind-stamped leather binding of the _Winchester
       Domesday Book_. English, 12th century.        (_Frontispiece_)

                          SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES, LONDON.

  2. Casket covered with stamped leather, _cuir bouilli_. German,
       14th century.                                               22

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  3. Coffret covered with leather, incised, coloured and gilt. French,
       14th century.                                               24

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  4. Casket covered with embossed leather, _cuir bouilli_. French,
       early 15th century.                                         28

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  5. Case of cut and embossed leather, _cuir bouilli_. Italian, 15th
       century.                                                    32

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  6. Blind-stamped morocco binding with gilt roundels and coloured
       cameo design. _Celsus._ _De Medicina._ _Venice_, 1477.
       Italian, 15th century.                                      37

                          BRITISH MUSEUM.

  7. Case of cut and punched leather. German, 15th century.        40

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  8. Brown leather binding, cut and engraved, with punched background.
       _German MS. Chronicle of Events._ German,
       15th century.                                               44

                          BODLEIAN LIBRARY, OXFORD.

  9. Cover of case for a cup in wood covered with leather, _cuir
       bouilli_, cut, embossed, painted and gilt. Italian, about
       1500.                                                       49

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  10. Cover of work-box of wood covered with embossed leather,
        _cuir bouilli_. German, 16th century.                      56

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  11. Powder-flask of wood covered with leather, _cuir bouilli_, cut
        and embossed. Italian, 16th century.                       56

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  12. Shield of cut and embossed leather, _cuir bouilli_. Italian,
        16th century.                                              60

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  13. Top of casket covered with brown calf, cut and slightly
        embossed. By Florence Hornblower. Modern English.          65

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  14. Embossed and punched brown calf binding. _Rubáiyát of
        Omar Khayyám._ Designed by Mary G. Houston. Modern
        English.                                                   66

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  15. Mirror case of punched black leather, _cuir bouilli_.
        Executed by Miss Casella. Modern English.                  71

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  16. Black morocco binding with applied panels of tooled, cut,
        painted and gilt calf. _Le Roman de Tristan et Iseut._
        Designed by Robert Engels. Modern French.                  74

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  17. Binding of stained calf, cut, embossed, tooled and
        _patinated_. By Henri Godin. Modern French.                78

                          SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

  18. Gold-tooled and inlaid morocco binding. _The Letters of
        Princess Lieven._ By S. T. Prideaux. Modern English.       82

  19. Back and seat of chair in cut, embossed and gilt cowhide
        with punched background. Executed by Rosalie Vigers from
        a design by Frederick Vigers. Modern English.              84

  20. Embossed calf binding. _Book of Common Prayer._ Executed
        by Rosalie Vigers from a design by Frederick Vigers.
        Modern English.                                            86



                              INTRODUCTION

                 THE DECORATION OF LEATHER IN THE PAST


The following remarks, without attempting a description in detail of the
different phases through which the art of decorating leather has passed
since its origin in primitive times, deal with the treatment of leather
solely from the decorative point of view, the present volume being limited
to the consideration of this aspect of the subject.

In all ages man has sought to develop to their fullest extent the
possibilities of splendour in the materials of his dress, and an important
place in the wardrobes of our early ancestors was filled by skins shorn of
hair, thus lending themselves easily to decoration in many different ways.

The nomadic races, described to us as at first riding their horses
barebacked to the conquest of the West, soon adopted ornamental trappings
more suited to their position as conquerors, as shown by the marvellous
mosaics of piqué leather which from an early date constituted the
foundation of the war-like equipment of the Tartars and Moguls.

In addition to magnificently woven materials and damascened arms, the
Crusaders brought back with them to Europe, leather ornamented with wool,
silk and precious metals. Europe set itself to imitate this art of working
in leather, and found a source of faultless taste and purest models in
Spain, then occupied by the Moors.

For several centuries the art of decorating leather remained the
speciality of Spain. The word “cordwainer,” derived from Cordova, is a
witness of this monopoly by the Peninsula of everything connected with
leather-work, apart from the modelled and stamped leathers, introduced
into Venice from the East.

Other countries, however, were doing better work than that of imitating
the celebrated manufactures of Cordova. In Germany especially, leather was
discovered to be an ideal material for rendering the mantles and plumed
helmets of heraldry, while the marvels of carved and embossed leather
preserved in the Dijon Museum are a proof of the interest taken in
leather-work by the great decorative school of the court of Burgundy.

In the Middle Ages precious stuffs adorned with enamels, ivory and gold
were discarded as covering for the beautiful manuscripts executed by the
monks, and in their place heraldic subjects in carved and modelled leather
were introduced and lent a new character to books which were no longer the
exclusive property of crowned heads. The invention of printing afforded
the Renaissance movement the means of attaining its full development, and
soon called for a less archaic binding for its incunabula. Leather either
decorated in mosaic or tooled in gold formed a perfect covering for these
marvels of typography, and from the end of the fifteenth century to the
present revival of decorated leather both styles have been much in use.

There are various standard works on this subject, which may be consulted
by those desirous of studying its development further.



                               CHAPTER I

                           TOOLS AND LEATHER


                                 TOOLS

The few tools essential in leather-work are illustrated in the text, where
their use is described. They comprise:

1. A Lithographic Stone or a Slab of Marble (preferably the former).

2. A Tracing-point and some 6H Graphite Pencils.

3. An Incising Knife.

4. Modellers of different sizes.

5. An Opener.

Special tools, Punches, Wheels etc., are treated of at greater length in
dealing with the different processes in which they are used.


                            CHOICE OF SKINS

The art of working in leather is now so general that it is not difficult
to obtain skins specially prepared for the purpose. It is an essential
qualification that nothing of a fatty nature be used in their preparation.
The tanning process of the best skins, whether with a glossy surface
artificially obtained by rolling or with a dull surface, should be a very
simple one. Oak and sumach tannins (used especially for morocco leather)
are those which best preserve the suppleness and capillarity of leather.
The susceptibility of its colour to alteration from exposure to light is
greatly influenced by the materials used in tanning. Oak wood and chestnut
are the tannins least influenced by light. Skins tanned with _cassaigre_
and mimosa, light at first, become darkened in a marked degree by
exposure.[1]

[1] See the observations on the importance of the tanning process in the
preservation of leather, in the Note at the end of this volume.

So many varieties of leather are on the market that some guide will be
found useful in selecting the most suitable for the different methods of
decoration. These methods may be classified as follows:

  Cut, or engraved leather.
  Carved leather.
  Punched or hammered leather.
  Modelled leather.
  Modelled leather with punched background.
  Leather decorated by pyrogravure and pointogravure.
  Stamped leather.
  Open-work leather.
  Leather mosaic.

The leathers which may be used in these various styles of decoration are

  Sheep-skin.
  Cow-hide.
  Calf.
  Ox-hide.
  Morocco.
  Russia.
  Pig-skin.
  Chamois.
  Vellum.

Sheepskin does not lend itself either to incising or to carving and is
only useful for cheap work; it is very malleable and models easily, but
for that reason lacks the firmness of calf when modelled. It is also not
possible to get such good colour results with sheep-skin as with calf,
cow-hide, or ox-hide. It can be used for large work, such as
wall-hangings, screens, etc., but is not recommended. Beginners, however,
will find it useful on account of its low price.

Cow and calf are the most suitable leathers for really artistic work.
Cow-hide may be obtained with either a glossy or a dull surface; the dull
skins are sold specially prepared for decorating and give good results,
the smoothness of their surface making them particularly suitable for
modelling and pyrogravure.

Calf varies greatly in thickness and colour. It should be noted that in
carved and modelled work the advantages of great malleability in the
material are more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages; durable
results cannot be obtained with very malleable leather which yields easily
to the tool, and since high relief can be worked without difficulty in
comparatively thick leather by damping it, its use is much to be
preferred.

Ox-hide is frequently as thick as strong cardboard and is the ideal
leather for carving, hammering and pyrogravure. In cut decoration a better
effect can be obtained with this leather than with thinner skins, and
being very firm, it is equally suitable for modelling.

Morocco leather, which is mostly of the kind called “Cape morocco,” is
goat-skin with a grained surface produced by pressing hard seeds upon the
skin while it is still damp from the tanning. For bookbinding and similar
purposes this grain is crushed by pressing hot plates heavily on the
surface. The only way of decorating leather so treated is by an inlay (or
literally _onlay_) of skins of other colours, and is known as Leather
Mosaic.[2]

[2] See the chapter on Leather Mosaic, p. 42.

The so-called Russia leather is generally very light and soft and well
adapted to modelling on wax. It should not be cut.

Pig-skin is very firm and was formerly much used for the fine stamped
bindings of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. It does
not lend itself well to carving, but is very suitable for pyrogravure
because of the contrast between its light tint and the dark brown mark
produced by the hot tool.

Chamois leather, which is not always prepared from the skins of deer or
chamois, is only suitable for flat ornament. It may be decorated by
pyrogravure or with stencilled ornament, or used in its natural colour as
background to an open-work pattern of leather of another colour.

Vellum, a very thin and stiff white skin, can be decorated with brush or
pen-work. It is principally used for bookbinding. Those who wish to paint
on vellum can draw their inspiration from the marvellous miniatures of the
Middle Ages: a description of this style of decoration, however, does not
come within the scope of the present work.



                               CHAPTER II

                     METHODS OF WORKING IN LEATHER


                   TRACING THE DESIGN ON THE LEATHER

In this chapter the different processes which may be used in the
decoration of leather will each be described in turn.

The preliminary operation of tracing the design on the leather is however
common to them all.

The design should in the first instance be drawn on fairly thick
tracing-paper or architect’s linen. This should then be fixed on the
leather in such a way that it does not move during the transfer of the
design, but so that it is possible to lift it to ascertain the progress of
the work. It will be found convenient to fold the edge of the
tracing-paper over the top edge of the leather and fix it with seccotine.

The leather must be wet in order to take the impression of the tracing. A
soft, slightly damp sponge is passed several times evenly over the whole
surface; if only a part of the leather were wetted an aureole would form
round that part and would leave a permanent mark. When the leather has
once been wetted all over there is no further fear of this, and it may
then be damped again in parts when necessary. Practice alone will make it
possible to judge accurately the degree of saturation that each skin
requires to bring it into a fit condition for working on; speaking
generally, the water should have penetrated the leather so that the
pressure of the tool will not bring it back to the surface. Neglect of
this rule might result in staining the leather.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.——TRACING-POINT]

The design is transferred to the leather by means of a metal tracing-point
(Fig. 1). An agate or ebony point, or an exceedingly hard 6H graphite
pencil, may also be used for the purpose. The pencil possesses the
additional advantage that it can be given a very fine point where an extra
thin and sharp outline is required. Doubling the outline by going over it
twice should be avoided. From time to time the tracing-paper or linen
should be raised to see that the design is being well marked on the
leather. The outline should be dark; when it comes light it is a proof
that the leather is too dry and requires damping again.


                          INCISING THE LEATHER

This being the first operation in working thick leather by carving,
engraving and modelling, it will be dealt with before passing to the
different processes peculiar to these methods of decoration. The incising
is done after the design has been traced. There are numerous incising
knives for the purpose which vary in shape and are manipulated in
different ways; no one of them can be specially recommended as notably
superior to the rest, and the artist should choose the one with which he
feels most likely to succeed. The knife illustrated in Fig. 2 is used with
a downward movement and is held——as shown in Fig. 3——very short, so as to
obtain a sufficient purchase over the blade which is guided by the middle
finger. The knife illustrated in Fig. 4 is used upwards. Fig. 5 shows the
manner in which it should be held to produce a vertical cut. It will be
found of great assistance in making a good firm cut to guide the right
hand with the left hand as in Fig. 5. When curved lines are to be cut,
the left hand must be used to turn the leather so as to present it in the
most favourable position for the operation of the blade. The third knife
(Fig. 6) is held like a graver with the handle supported against the palm
of the hand and is pushed forward (Fig. 7). It is useful in cutting curved
lines over a large surface. The depth of the incision should vary
according to the effect to be produced by the subsequent operation, but
it should never exceed a third of the thickness of the skin.

[Illustration: 2. CASKET COVERED WITH STAMPED LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_.
GERMAN, 14TH CENTURY.]

[Illustration: FIG. 2, FIG. 3.——INCISING KNIFE USED DOWNWARDS LIKE A
PENCIL]

Thin skins should rarely be cut, and, if they are cut, the incision should
barely penetrate the surface. On ox-hide the depth of the cut may be
considerable without danger of impairing the strength of the leather.

[Illustration: FIG. 4, FIG. 5.——INCISING KNIFE USED UPWARDS]

When the leather is to be modelled in high relief, the design should be
well separated from the background in the cutting process. The incision
should also be deep when the outline is to be accentuated afterwards with
a tool called an “opener” (Fig. 9) to produce an effect like the leading
in stained glass.

Should it be desired to raise and turn up the edge of the leather to
simulate a leaf, petal, or piece of ribbon detached from the background,
the knife must be held slanting, as in Fig. 8, so as to make an almost
horizontal cut.

[Illustration: FIG. 6, FIG. 7.——INCISING KNIFE HELD LIKE A GRAVER AND
PUSHED FORWARD]

However thick the leather may be, it is important that two lines should
never be cut quite up to the point of intersection. For example, in
cutting the outline of a leaf, the points of the indentations should be
left uncut to avoid the tendency of the part within the angle to project
and turn back. Sufficient impression can be obtained with the modelling
tool to give a finished effect to these points.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.——EXECUTING A SLANTING CUT WHEN THE EDGE OF THE
LEATHER IS TO BE SUBSEQUENTLY TURNED UP]

The incision must be clean and sharp, and absolutely vertical, except
where it is made slanting for the purpose described above.

[Illustration: 3. COFFRET COVERED WITH LEATHER, INCISED, COLOURED AND
GILT. FRENCH, 14TH CENTURY.]


                        CUT OR ENGRAVED LEATHER

[Illustration: FIG. 9.——OPENER FIG. 10.——ENLARGING THE OUTLINE WITH THE
OPENER]

Leather with flat decoration in outline of even thickness is called cut,
or engraved leather. The tool used to enlarge and accentuate the outline
is called an opener. It is like a straight modeller broadened in the
centre and with a blunt point (Fig. 9), or a small blade with the point
cut off square and the angles rounded. When the leather has been well
wetted and the water has thoroughly soaked in, the end of the opener is
inserted in the incision and pushed along it with a very slight and gentle
gliding movement. The broader part of the opener will act as a wedge and
widen the cut evenly. Openers can be had in various sizes to produce lines
of different width. When the design is to be modelled afterwards, an
opener should be used which broadens on the right side only; held slightly
slanting, it will press down the outside edge of the incision which is to
be sunk into the ground. Fig. 10 shows the manner of holding the tool; it
should be worked backwards and forwards to make sure that the edges are
evenly parted. The left hand may help to guide the point to prevent it
from slipping off the line.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.——SLANTING CUT]

[Illustration: FIG. 11a.——SHOWING THE DIFFICULTY OF RAISING THE INNER EDGE
(A)]

To be able to accomplish satisfactorily this operation of opening the
outline, it will be found that the incision must be absolutely vertical.
Supposing it to have been made slanting as in Fig. 11, it will be easy to
sink the outer edge (B) into the ground, but when it comes to raising the
inner edge (A) an excess of material will be encountered which will offer
stubborn resistance to being raised in a direction contrary to that of the
incision (Fig. 11a). The opener should not be moved at too great an angle
in the incision as the point, though blunt, may yet be sharp enough to cut
and spoil the modelling by raising the surface of the leather.

After it has been outlined, the leather may be further decorated by
variously tinting the parts within the lines, if the style of the design
will admit of such treatment; an effect similar to leather mosaic is thus
produced. (See Chapter III.)

Pyrogravure, or engraving with a hot tool (see p. 36), gives a very
similar effect to that of cut or engraved leather, the only difference in
the appearance of the work thus decorated being due to the slight burr of
the edges and the darkening of the line caused by the hot tool. This
effect of dark colour can, however, be added to cut leather by colouring
the lines with a dye applied with a fine brush. In order to prevent the
colour penetrating and spreading beyond the lines, the latter should be
lightly coated with paste before the dye is applied.


                             CARVED LEATHER

Great expertness is required in carving leather, that is to say, in
producing lines so deep that the design stands out sufficiently from the
background to allow of its being ornamented by independent lines less
deeply worked.

Some leather cases from the Dijon Museum, which were exhibited at the
Petit Palais in Paris in the year 1900, are good examples of carving, and
the manner in which they are finished with touches of gold is very
characteristic. The style and method of production of these examples may
well be imitated. Decoration on ogee-shaped lines is to be avoided, as,
however artistically treated, it is apt to bring to mind the stamped
leather of the so-called “Cathedral Style,” specimens of which filled the
libraries of the romantic period of about 1830.

Besides the tools enumerated above, some artists use the gravers and
gouges employed in chasing metal and wood-carving, but a great deal of
practice is necessary for their proper handling, and they cannot be
recommended to the inexperienced worker.

Pyrogravure is an alternative method of producing strongly accentuated
lines, and by the judicious use of punches an infinite variety of
interesting background effects can be obtained.

Before leaving the subject of carved leather, mention must be made of
_cuir bouilli_, which was used in conjunction with it during the Middle
Ages, chiefly for sheaths and cases, and is now unfortunately a lost
art.[3] Mons. de Saint André de Lignereux, in _Le Cuir d’Art français_,
tells us that the leather was boiled with gums and resins obtained from
the East, and moulded and cut while still soft from this treatment.[4]

[3] An example of modern English work in leather treated in a somewhat
similar manner is given in Plate 15.

[4] _Le Cuir d’Art français_, par Saint André de Lignereux, Etampes, 1900.


                                PUNCHES

Punches are steel or brass tools, having at the point a design cut in
relief or in intàglio, which are impressed on the leather either by the
hand alone or with a hammer The design is thus reproduced on the leather
with the impression contrary to that on the tool. For hand pressure only,
they should be fixed in wooden handles to afford greater grip and power.
They may be used hot; the design will then appear darkened on the leather.

Punches are also employed in tooling with gold leaf, or in burnishing the
impression of their surface on groundwork gilded with shell gold.


                            HAMMERED LEATHER

Leather decorated entirely by means of punches is called hammered leather.
It is used in the style of decoration described later under the name of
modelled leather with punched background, and can also be employed with
great advantage in conjunction with carved leather.

[Illustration: 4. CASKET COVERED WITH EMBOSSED LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_.
FRENCH, EARLY 15TH CENTURY.]


                            MODELLED LEATHER

Leather may be modelled in two ways; with a cut outline or with the
traced outline merely accentuated with the tracing-point or opener. In the
former case the leather must be fairly thick, in the latter it may be thin
calf or Russia, which is very soft and delicate.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.——LOWERING THE OUTER EDGE WITH A MODELLER]

Leather modelled after being cut should, when finished, have the
appearance, with regard to the relief, of a metal or modelled wax plaque.
The leather takes the desired shape easily, and should therefore be
delicately handled.

The great charm of modelled leather lies in the softness of its forms, and
care must be taken to avoid irregularly cut outlines which disagreeably
arrest the eye by failing to merge into the ground.

Faulty incisions, or those too deeply cut, are liable to leave a light
line between the modelled subject and the background, due to the cut
having exposed not only the surface, but the inner substance of the
leather. This light line will also have a tendency to appear if the
modelling is not done directly after the opening of the lines, or if they
are too widely opened, or if the opener is too sharp and unduly deepens
the cut. The fault can be remedied by staining the line to match the
surface of the leather.


                            MODELLING TOOLS

The tools used for modelling are not numerous; two or three modellers,
more or less fine and of different curves, (Fig. 12) are sufficient. A
special tool, called _Pied de Biche_ (hind’s foot) in allusion to its
shape, is also useful in depressing the ground at right angles to the
modelling. Modellers may be either of nickelled steel or of brass,
provided that the convex side with which the leather is modelled be
perfectly smooth. It is better not to use ordinary steel which, when the
leather is wet, might cause it to become stained through the rusting of
the tool occasioned by the materials used in tanning. It may also be
mentioned here that when using acids for _patine_,[5] steel tools should
be kept away from the work. Hydrochloric acid in particular will rust them
so badly in a single night as to make them unusable unless they are
repolished.

[5] See note to page 64.


                           EMBOSSING LEATHER

When the leather is thick it must be thoroughly wetted on both sides; it
is then taken in the left hand, the portion to be embossed being between
the forefinger and thumb, which are laid flat on the surface of the
leather, while the other three fingers form the under part of this species
of clamp, and ensure the leather remaining steady (Fig. 14). Steel clamps
are made for fixing the end of the leather to the table, but the system of
holding it in the hand is preferable, except for very large work, as it
can be more readily moved about.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.——BALL-SHAPED STEEL TOOL WITH HANDLE FIG.
14.——POSITION OF HANDS IN EMBOSSING LEATHER]

A modeller or a tool consisting of a small steel ball with a handle (Fig.
13) is then worked backwards and forwards with more or less pressure on
the back of the leather until the desired degree of relief is obtained. It
is possible to work very high relief by this method.

Another way of embossing in high relief, which we believe to be here
described for the first time, is as follows: The outline of the design
must first be traced on the flesh side of the leather. This is done by
placing blue transfer paper under the leather, with the blue side
uppermost, while the design is being transferred to the surface of the
leather with the tracing-point in the manner described on p. 20. A chamois
leather bag, about 16 × 12 inches in size, is filled with very fine,
carefully sifted sand, and then sewn up as tightly as possible, so that
the surface is quite taut. The bag is placed on the table, and the leather
face downwards upon it. The steel ball is then rubbed to and fro, on the
flesh side of the leather, at the point to be embossed, and the relief is
produced as the sand yields under the pressure of the tool. The sand gives
enough support to the leather, however, to prevent it stretching too much,
as it would be liable to do if merely extended over a frame.

The next process is to open the incisions. This is not done till after the
leather has been embossed in order not to further impair the strength of
the leather at the outline, already diminished to some extent by cutting.
The object of opening the incision is to facilitate the flattening of the
outer edge so that it merges into the ground and the graduated modelling
of the inner edge to form the softened outline of the ornament in relief.

[Illustration: 5. CASE OF CUT AND EMBOSSED LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_.
ITALIAN, 15TH CENTURY.]

To obtain this soft effect, the modeller is gently passed from left to
right over the angle formed by the inner edge of the incision and the
surface of the modelling. The tool may be lifted and the leather turned
about to place it in the right position for this movement. The leather is
frequently wetted (but not to such a degree, however, that the water oozes
out of the surface when the modeller is used), and assumes the substance
of wax. Should it show a tendency to rise after it has been depressed, it
must be gone over again with the tool; if the leather is of good quality,
it will keep the modelling permanently when it is once dry.

Care must be taken to avoid making a false impression; the least contact
of the tool with the leather will leave a mark on the damp surface, which
it is not always possible to efface from beneath.

Having dealt with cut and modelled leather, we now turn to modelling
without cutting, the outline of the design being first simply marked out
with the tracing-point, or with the opener held very slanting to avoid
wrinkling the surface of the skin. This process should be adopted in
preference to the preceding one, for comparatively thin skins which would
not bear cutting. The relief may be obtained in the manner described above
by working it up from the back of the leather, or the leather may be laid
surface upwards on a cake of wax and the design brought out in low relief
by depressing the background with the tool. Better results are obtained
with the latter method. The wax is applied under the parts to be modelled,
which must be accurately marked out for this purpose on the under side of
the leather, and thin paper is pasted underneath it to keep it in place
and prevent it sticking to the table; or a very smooth, thin tablet of wax
is placed on stout cardboard under the entire piece of leather; when in
position, the edges of the leather should be turned over and firmly fixed
underneath the cardboard in such a manner as to prevent the wax forcing
itself out under the pressure of the tool. The wax must be prepared with
spirit to expel the grease or contact with it would stain the leather.

After thoroughly wetting the leather, the outline should be well
accentuated with the opener and the design brought out by lowering the
ground all round it with a fine modeller. The modelling is then done by
working the tool with varying pressure and is held in place by the wax.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.——TOOL FOR WORKING REED DECORATION]

Beginners are advised to start by copying a plaster cast, in order to get
a full understanding of the values of relief.

The subject of wax supports brings us to that of padding the relief to
preserve its form, which may be done in many different materials. The
padding may be made of a special wax treated like cement, or of absorbent
cotton-wool soaked in a paste made of flour and water, or of cuttings of
glove skins shredded very fine[6] and mixed dry with talc, flour,
dextrine, etc., forming a liquid paste when water is added which can
easily be run into the hollows of the relief. This paste solidifies
rapidly, and is not affected by damp. Cardboard or cork scraped very fine
and mixed with paste or flour and water will also form a durable padding.
A special padding made with a round cotton cord dipped in flour mixed with
cold water is employed for flower stems and the so-called reed
decoration——a decoration consisting of a round line in relief of uniform
width, which lends itself to many combinations, and is worked with the
tool illustrated in Fig. 15. It may also be used in modelling the relief
by pasting it first on the back of the leather and, when dry, moulding the
leather with a modeller over the projection on the surface caused by its
thickness.

[6] _Dollage de gants._


                MODELLED LEATHER WITH PUNCHED BACKGROUND

When the leather has been cut before being modelled, the punch completes
the work of the modeller in sinking the outer edge of the incision into
the background. To do this perfectly, the edge of the punch must be placed
very exactly against the outline of the raised design; the handle should
be held slanting slightly to the left in working; extra pressure will thus
fall towards the right on that part which, in spite of having been sunk by
the modeller, will always show a tendency to rise if the punch be used too
flat upon the surface.

A hammer, though useful in working certain punches which depend upon being
deeply impressed to produce a good effect, requires great sureness of hand
when used as described above, to prevent overstepping the limits of the
outline, and punches in wooden handles are much to be preferred for this
work. Too deep an impression is avoided by their use, and, by guiding the
end of the punch with the left hand, it can be placed more surely in the
right position and worked by the steady pressure of the wrist. (Fig. 16.)

The most useful punches are those producing a powdered or a very small
check pattern. With these there is no need for the impressions to be
arranged in any regular order; it is indeed better that they should
slightly overlap so that no part of the ground is left out. The effect of
some punches is dependent on their arrangement in combination; others can
be arranged independently to form a _semis_——a pattern made up by the
repetition of some given figure at intervals.

Wheels, either plain or having a more or less broad surface engraved with
any kind of pattern (such as a check diaper, pearling or arabesques), are
used for outlining or for continuous patterns, or for producing imitations
of shagreened leather.

An excellent effect can be obtained by varnishing the parts depressed by
the punch to make the colour adhere, and then painting them with _gouache_
or bronzes. By rubbing the leather afterwards with a woollen cloth, the
colour or bronze is easily removed from the unvarnished modelling.


                              PYROGRAVURE

[Illustration: FIG. 16.——USING A HAND PUNCH]

The tools employed in pyrogravure are based on the same principle as the
instrument for thermo-cautery in surgery. The apparatus in most general
use consists of a platinum point mounted in a hollow metal handle
connected by a rubber tube with a pear-shaped rubber blower. This blower
serves to inject through a tube the carburetted air from a small benzine
reservoir attached to it. The incandescence of the point is maintained by
this constant injection, and the lines are burnt more or less deeply
according to the degree of incandescence, and the pressure applied. The
great difficulty is to keep the line of even thickness throughout. The
points are to be had of different shapes according to the effect desired.
Some are pierced at the end, so that the carburetted air escaping leaves a
mark on the leather similar to that which would be produced by a hot iron
grazing its surface. In this way a brown tint is obtained varying in
darkness in proportion to the proximity of the point to the leather.

[Illustration: 6. BLIND-STAMPED MOROCCO BINDING WITH GILT ROUNDELS AND
COLOURED CAMEO DESIGN. _CELSUS._ _DE MEDICINA._ _VENICE_, 1477. ITALIAN,
15TH CENTURY.]

There are also rather large blowers which are worked automatically by
compressed air, while others have a pedal action like a sewing machine.

It would be difficult to explain the many ways of handling the point so as
to obtain different effects; it should, however, always be held slightly
inclined to the right. It is shaped like an eagle’s beak, so that by using
the point alone, fine lines of more or less depth are obtained, and by
inclining it more to the right the rounded part will burn a larger surface
of the leather. Very deep hollows can be made with the point highly
heated. Pyrogravure is also an efficient way of depressing the ground work
of thick leather when the point is worked with repeated touches over the
surface. With a light hand and an accurate knowledge of the degree of heat
required to produce fine lines, a skilful artist is able to draw with the
point as if it were a pen.

The left hand plays a very important part in the process by controlling
the injection of carburetted air through the blower, and thereby
regulating the heat of the point. When the incandescence is automatically
produced, equal facility in varying the degree of heat according to the
requirements of the work is not possible.


                             POINTOGRAVURE

The following description is borrowed from Mons. E. Aumaître, the inventor
of another process for the decoration of leather to which he has given the
name of pointogravure.

The implements required are two graving-points, one large and one small, a
modeller and a spirit-lamp.

The design having been traced on the leather, the whole of it is wetted
with a sponge as described on page 19. The point is then heated in the
spirit-lamp and passed lightly over the line. It should be held like a
pencil and heated sufficiently to produce a light brown mark on the
leather, and it should run smoothly without sticking. The fine lines are
drawn lightly and the point pressed more heavily for the deeper ones. Deep
hollows can be made by sloping the tool, and using its widest side. The
point being very small, it requires frequent heating to keep it in a
condition to produce satisfactory results. It is not hot enough unless it
runs smoothly on the leather and darkens the impression. On the other
hand, overheating is to be avoided to prevent burning the surface of the
leather. This process skilfully carried out will produce shading,
hatching, and lines of great delicacy, also much softer effects than
pyrogravure. It lends itself equally well to the broad treatment of a
design.


                            STAMPED LEATHER

It is beyond the scope of this work to describe the process of stamping
leather with a steel die and a balance-press;[7] we will therefore explain
a method in which the steel die is replaced by thick cardboard or leather
cut out in open-work, and the balance-press by a small one worked by hand.
The cardboard or leather stencil, laid on damp leather and placed in the
press, will sink in, causing those parts of the leather which are against
the open parts of the stencil to stand out in relief.

[7] _Balancier._

There is another method which has been found particularly satisfactory in
working a deep design on the board of a book-binding. The design is drawn
sharply in outline with a pen upon very white paper. By a photographic
process a metal block is produced from the drawing, on which the outline
appears in relief. This block, mounted on pasteboard or wood, will form a
die with which the design can be hollowed out of the leather by pressure
in a copying-press, and the result subsequently perfected by cutting or
modelling.

Another interesting process consists in etching a design deeply upon a
copper-plate; the lines are then filled in with printing ink, the surplus
removed with the palm of the hand, and the plate wiped over with a soft
rag, preferably of flannel. A piece of leather is then wetted and placed
under the plate and the whole heavily pressed. Since a copying-press is
not sufficiently heavy to produce the relief, a bookbinder’s press should
be used and tightly screwed up. When the leather has taken the impression
sufficiently, the whole is removed from the press, and the copper-plate
carefully raised, avoiding tearing the leather if it should have stuck to
the plate. The design will then stand out in relief, coloured black or red
according to the ink used. The ink must be thick enough not to spread over
the leather under pressure.

There is also a method of stamping leather by means of two plaster casts
prepared with stearine, both bearing the same design, one in relief and
the other hollowed. A thoroughly wetted piece of thin leather is placed
between these two casts and well pressed, the amalgam enabling the plaster
to bear the pressure. The leather should be allowed to dry between the
casts, or, if preferred, the hollow one may be removed.

The same principle can be applied without the hollow cast, by modelling
the leather with the modelling tool, so that it takes the form of the cast
in relief beneath it. In some cases the plaster is left permanently under
the leather to form the padding.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.——CUTTING-OUT KNIFE]


                           OPEN-WORK LEATHER

The leather should be neatly and sharply cut out for open-work decoration,
and placed over a groundwork of leather, stuff or metal: the last material
is well adapted by its contrast of colour to show up the ornament laid
over it. Open-work leather is a good material for hangings, and when
destined for this purpose the design is sewn on the groundwork of leather
or stuff with a sewing-machine, or stuck with gutta-percha. In the latter
case the back of the leather is made quite smooth, and a layer of
gutta-percha is placed on it and made to stick by means of steam produced
by heating a wet pad. Well pressed down with this pad the gutta-percha
will stick to the leather, and also cause it to keep in place on the
groundwork, to which it is made to adhere permanently by passing a hot
iron over the surface. A sheet of white blotting-paper is laid over the
leather to protect it. When the leather is worked in relief, this
proceeding must be reversed, that is to say, the leather is placed face
downwards on a sheet of wadding with the material forming the groundwork
uppermost, and the hot iron is passed over the back of the material. The
relief can easily be worked on the leather before it is cut out.

The cutting out is done on a piece of strong cardboard with the knife
illustrated in Fig. 17.

[Illustration: 7. CASE OF CUT AND PUNCHED LEATHER. GERMAN, 15TH CENTURY.]

The borders of open-work leather can be ornamented by a sort of plaiting
formed by lacing thin strips of soft leather through holes made with a
punch.

A very effective decoration for furniture can be made with open-work
leather over a panel of wood, or a metal background.



                              CHAPTER III

                             LEATHER MOSAIC


Until recently it seemed as if this pleasing art would have to remain the
monopoly of a limited number of professional craftsmen working with
numerous tools, and reckoning a ten years’ apprenticeship necessary to the
attainment of proficiency in their craft. But although there is small
likelihood of amateurs entering the domain of the followers and emulators
of artists such as John Reynes, Florimond Badier, Monnier, Padeloup and
Jubert, Mons. Eugène Aumaître has invented a simpler process of leather
mosaic, for which fewer tools are required and which is within the reach
of artist and amateur alike. The following pages contain the result of the
study of his method, with the addition of some observations based on the
practical experience of the author.


                         LEATHER FOR GROUNDWORK

Any skin may be used for the groundwork of leather mosaic, but morocco,
and especially the kind called Cape morocco, is generally preferred,
because of the grained surface which shows up the inlaid decoration to the
best advantage.

Other skins, however, with either dull or glossy surfaces make good
backgrounds for mosaic decoration, and as they are generally fawn
coloured, they may first be stained to produce shaded groundwork very
attractive in effect.

The old masters of leather mosaic made great use of fawn-coloured calf,
occasionally adding a touch of coloured lacquer to bring out the light
parts of the design.


             PREPARATION OF THE LEATHER FOR THE GROUNDWORK

The first necessity in working leather mosaic is to have a flat and rigid
surface to work upon; it is indispensable therefore, when the leather is
not in itself sufficiently thick and firm, to stretch it on cardboard.
This rather troublesome preparatory process is best confided to an expert;
we will, however, describe it for the benefit of those preferring to
execute it themselves. A strong, smooth piece of cardboard called
millboard is taken, and the edges rubbed down with glass paper. A thin
coat of paste is applied on one side of the board and allowed to dry.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.——PARING KNIFE]

[Illustration: FIG. 19.——PARING KNIFE]

The edges of the leather must now be thinned so that they will more
readily stick when turned over and pasted under the board, and also to
avoid the unevenness which the normal thickness of the leather would
produce underneath. A paring-knife with a broad, flat, very sharp blade
(Figs. 18 and 19) is used for this purpose; its manipulation is difficult
and requires long practice. The handle is held against the palm of the
hand, and the fingers extending over the blade cause it to penetrate the
leather superficially by a more or less strong pressure, the object being
to take off shavings from the back of the skin, increasing towards the
edge until the edge itself is reduced to the thickness of a cigarette
paper.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.——PARING LEATHER]

The leather is placed surface downwards on a lithographic stone or a slab
of marble. It is held stretched with the left hand, the fingers being
extended over it on the face of the stone, and the thumb pressed against
the side leaving the part just in front of the fingers free to be pared
(Fig. 20). It is of the first importance for the success of this operation
that the leather should be kept well stretched. The knife is held almost
horizontally to avoid cutting into the leather at too sharp an angle, and
is worked from left to right towards the edge.

The leather is then fastened to the cardboard by pasting either the whole
of it or only the edges, which are turned underneath. In any case ordinary
paste should be used; seccotine or glue would sink into and harden the
leather, making the subsequent outlining process difficult.

When the piece of leather is so large that it would cause the board to
warp when it dries, some paper should be pasted on the other side of the
board, which will keep it flat by drawing it in the opposite direction.

[Illustration: 8. BROWN LEATHER BINDING, CUT AND ENGRAVED, WITH PUNCHED
BACKGROUND. _GERMAN MS. CHRONICLE OF EVENTS._ GERMAN, 15TH CENTURY.]

The work is then put into the press or under heavy boards. It is important
that this should always be done after paste has been used. When it is too
large to put into a copying-press, it should be laid upon a flat table and
a sheet of nickelled or very smooth zinc placed against the part to be
decorated. The cardboard known as _Carton Jacquart_ may be substituted for
the zinc, but there is a risk that the moisture of the paste penetrating
the leather may cause it to swell, notwithstanding its glaze. The zinc
plate or the board should not be smaller than the leather, for in that
case the pressure would produce a ridge round its edge.

The groundwork is ready to receive the ornament as soon as it is dry. The
different methods of working mosaic will now be explained in turn.


                       MONOCHROME MOSAIC ON CALF

In this style of decoration the leather used for the inlaid design is
white or very light in tone, and may be dyed subsequently to present the
appearance of a mosaic made of variously coloured leathers.


                          LEATHER FOR INLAYING

The skins sold for this purpose are split sheepskins. Their extreme
thinness renders them liable to stretch a great deal, and therefore they
are most difficult to cut out in any desired shape. To obviate this
difficulty, the back of the leather is pasted over, and it is then
stretched on a board and fastened with drawing-pins to prevent it from
shrinking as it dries. But there is another and a better method——that of
mounting the leather on paper.


                     MOUNTING THE LEATHER ON PAPER

Some paste is made of very light and smooth flour, diluted with half the
quantity of water and beaten to a cream. The water is added in small
quantities while the mixture is being stirred. Canson paper, or some other
strong drawing paper, is pasted over the whole surface of the leather, so
that it adheres lightly, and can be removed afterwards without difficulty;
it is then placed under boards and allowed to dry thoroughly.


                    TRACING THE DESIGN ON THE PAPER

The design is traced by means of carbon paper on the paper lining of the
inlay leather. A hard pencil should be used in order to produce very sharp
lines.


                         CUTTING OUT THE DESIGN

Cutting-out knives should possess a keen edge and a small blade, and
should be so shaped that they can be turned freely in any direction. The
knife illustrated in Fig. 21 combines all these qualities. It consists of
a very fine double-edged blade, set loosely into a slit in a hard wood
handle and secured with a few turns of thread; a piece of leather over the
whole (A) keeps the blade in its place. The handle being loose, it is
possible to give any minute movement to the blade, which can also be taken
out for sharpening when necessary. It must be kept as sharp as a razor.
The extreme fineness of this blade facilitates cutting out the delicate
parts of a design, but if handled too vigorously it is apt to get out of
shape. The second tool (Fig. 22) is a stencil-cutter’s knife, and is very
similar to the one described above except in size. It is usually sold
mounted in an ebony slide bound round with copper wire, but can with
advantage be mounted as in Fig. 21, in a split hard-wood handle.

One little known tool deserves mention for its flexibility and lightness.
This is a small scraper shaped like an unslit pen, the blade widening from
the point in two very fine edges like the head of a pike. It is used by
photographers and miniature painters, and is sold by the dozen in small
boxes. When in use it is firmly fixed in a small pen-holder so that it
does not turn when pressed upon (Fig. 23).

[Illustration: CUTTING-OUT KNIVES: (A), FIG. 21, FIG. 22, FIG. 23]

The special knife illustrated in Fig. 17 is sometimes recommended, but it
is better adapted to cutting out thick skins for open-work decoration, as
the point of the blade is not sufficiently fine for use on thin leather.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.——CUTTING OUT INLAY]

The leather to be cut out is placed on a sheet of the cardboard used in
mounting drawings, which is firm, but at the same time easily penetrated
by the point of the tool. The nature of the board on which the leather is
laid is important, for to ensure a clean cut, the tool, as it pierces the
leather, must not encounter a veined surface such as that of wood, which
might deflect the point. The three middle fingers of the left hand hold
the leather mounted on the paper upon the board, the thumb and little
finger supporting the whole underneath (Fig. 24). The part which is to be
cut is turned towards the knife by the left hand, the right hand being
held in a fixed position with the knife, slightly inclined to the right,
cutting the leather as it is presented by the other hand. The lines must
be cleanly cut in order that the subsequent operation of outlining may be
successfully accomplished. With every care in cutting out, it may
sometimes be found in detaching the cut portion that a small thread of the
leather remains unsevered. In this case it should be neatly cut through,
and on no account may it be pulled to make it give way, which would result
in spoiling the design by either tearing or stretching the leather. When
cutting out a design on a large scale it is not possible to hold the work
in the manner just described; a part of the design to be cut out is
therefore placed flat on a large sheet of cardboard on a smooth table and
can then be turned about as required under the point of the knife.

[Illustration: 9. COVER OF CASE FOR A CUP IN WOOD COVERED WITH LEATHER,
_CUIR BOUILLI_, EMBOSSED, PAINTED AND GILT. ITALIAN, ABOUT 1500.]

When the inlay is of white or very light leather, it is extremely
difficult to conceal any joins occurring in the middle of lines; care must
therefore be taken that there are as few joins as possible, and that they
are arranged at points where they will easily disappear in lines of the
design going in an opposite direction.

The centre of the design should be cut out first, and then the outer
lines, reserving the more delicate parts, such as flower stems, for the
last.


                  PASTING THE INLAY ON THE GROUNDWORK

When the inlay is of a nature that does not require placing in any very
exact position, as for instance a spray of flowers, it will be sufficient
to lay it on the groundwork and mark the principal points. When it is to
occupy a definite position, forming the framework of a design, for
instance, it is laid upon the groundwork exactly in the right place and
then given a sharp turn in a copying-press, great care being taken that
it does not get displaced during the operation. Owing to the thickness of
the supporting paper, this will be sufficient to mark the outline of the
design on the groundwork. Some very smooth starch paste is then applied
with a flat brush on the exposed side of the cut out leather, care being
taken that every part, however small, is thoroughly pasted. To facilitate
this and to prevent the leather curling up when pasted, it should first be
fixed to a board with drawing-pins.

The portion of the ground which is to receive the inlay is damped with a
soft sponge; the inlay is then placed in position and pressed down with
the palm of the hand, a modeller being used for the finer parts. If it
should become displaced, the greatest care must be used in correcting it.
With the small pincers used by artificial flower-makers, the minutest
pieces of leather can be taken up and replaced after being repasted, if
necessary.


                          SETTING IN THE INLAY

The next process is that of setting the inlay into the groundwork, so that
no relief remains. This is done with the help of a roller with a long
wooden handle held in both hands and pressed against the shoulder, as
illustrated in Fig. 25. The paper on which the inlay is pasted plays an
important part in this operation; the greater its thickness, the greater
will be the pressure attainable, and the deeper the penetration of the
inlay into the damp background.

At first the roller is worked lightly with one hand only to ensure the
uniform adherence of the inlay, the movements being short, and repeated
several times over the same spot. When afterwards pressing heavily over
the whole surface, a piece of thin, tough paper between the roller and the
work will prevent the inlay from curling up, and the paper may be lifted
from time to time to see that nothing is out of place.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.——USING ROLLER TO SECURE ADHESION OF INLAY]

When the work is not too large, it is easier and more effectual to use a
copying-press instead of a roller for this operation, which is then
carried out in the following manner: A piece of felt is laid in the press,
and over it a sheet of very smooth or nickelled zinc, or, failing this, of
_Carton Jacquart_. The work is then laid on it and covered with a second
sheet of nickelled zinc and some pasteboards. The press is screwed up as
tightly as possible.

The work must not remain in the press, as if allowed to dry completely,
the subsequent removal of the paper pasted to the inlay would become
extremely difficult. To effect this removal, the paper is dabbed with a
damp sponge until it is ready to come off. A point of the pincers is
inserted underneath the paper which, if sufficiently soaked, should easily
come away when the tool is slid gently along. The paper, as it becomes
freed, should frequently be cut off with scissors to facilitate the
handling of the tool. The leather, being damp, may possibly become unstuck
and stretched during this process. It must then immediately be repasted
and replaced, and the stretched part reduced to its original size by
gently pushing it together with the modeller. Should it be found
impossible to reduce it thus, the part that is out of shape must be cut
off and joined on again. When the paper has been removed, the whole
surface is carefully washed over, wetting it as little as possible, so as
not to cause the mosaic to become unstuck. The work is then placed in the
press, or under boards, until it is perfectly dry.


                          OUTLINING THE MOSAIC

Outlining is the most delicate process in leather mosaic. When well
carried out it should be impossible to distinguish the line where the
inlay joins the groundwork. The extreme edge of the inlaid leather is
pressed into the groundwork by means of a tool invented by Mons. Aumaître,
producing a fine line the breadth of the edge of the tool selected. This
tool, called an outliner (Fig. 27), has two blunt ends, one rounded and
the other square, and is flat on one side and rounded on the other. The
rounded side of the tool affords extra pressure, and should therefore be
placed on the inner side of the line so that it serves to increase the
depression of the edge of the inlay. It is best to work the outline with
the cold tool first, and then to go over it again with the tool heated.
The inlay is lightly damped round the edges, and the round end of the
tool is placed half on the inlay and half on the groundwork. The tool is
held first inclined backwards (as in Fig. 26) and then brought with
pressure to a perpendicular position (Fig. 27). This will make a groove
into which the edge of the inlay will disappear. The square end of the
tool is used for straight lines. Great care must be taken in placing the
tool correctly; no portion of the inlay may protrude beyond the flat side
of the tool, as any particle of the edge, however minute, which is not
sunk in the groove would have to be cut off. If the edge of the inlay does
not extend up to the tool, the error is still more troublesome to correct,
more particularly when the leather is of a delicate colour, on account of
the difficulty of matching the exact shade for joining it.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.——FIRST POSITION OF OUTLINING TOOL]

[Illustration: FIG. 27.——SECOND POSITION OF OUTLINING TOOL]

After this operation the edge of the outlining tool (Fig. 28) is inserted
in the groove thus formed, and worked with a short up and down movement. A
ruler will serve as a guide in working straight lines. The round side of
the tool is held slightly inclined towards the edge of the inlay. The
wheel illustrated in Fig. 29 may also be used, but requires great sureness
of hand for its successful manipulation. Gouge-shaped outlining tools with
curves of different degrees (Fig. 30) are useful for little curved lines
which are otherwise difficult to work; also the tool represented in Fig.
31, for the lettering on bookbindings, etc., where the lines require to
be sharply finished. It must, however, rest with the artist to select the
tools he considers most suitable for his work.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.——GOUGE OUTLINER.

FIG. 29.——OUTLINING WHEEL.

FIG. 30.——GOUGE OUTLINER.

FIG. 31.——STRAIGHT OUTLINER.]

When the outline has been worked with the cold tool, a hot one is used to
go over it again to ensure perfect adhesion, and to give an attractive
brown tint to the lines. The end of the outliner is heated over a
spirit-lamp to a degree at which it can still be comfortably held in the
hand, and used as before. If the tool does not run smoothly, owing to the
elasticity of the edge of the inlaid leather, the latter may be lightly
damped with a brush. It will at first be found difficult to keep the tool
at the right heat. As a groundwork, calf with a smooth surface is more
sensitive to damage from an over-heated tool than split sheepskin. It is
useful to paste some of the inlay leather upon a spare piece of the
leather of the groundwork, with which to test the heat of the tool. If the
tool be too hot, it will burn and penetrate the leather without pressure.
It can be cooled to the desired temperature on a wet sponge.

The next process in leather mosaic is that of colouring, which is dealt
with in Chapter IV. It then only remains to give the finishing touch to
the work by passing a polishing iron (Fig. 32) over the surface, to polish
it and make it perfectly even. The tool is heated by holding the part
which does not come in contact with the leather over the flame of a
spirit-lamp. The polished side should frequently be well rubbed on
flannel, and should any portion of its surface become dull, the polish can
be restored with fine emery paper. The polishing iron, when heated, is
held in the right hand and worked with little stroking movements, bringing
first the end and then, by lowering the handle, the back of its polished
surface in contact with the leather. The various positions of the tool
during this operation closely resemble those of a vessel when it is
pitching.

[Illustration: 10. COVER OF WORK-BOX OF WOOD COVERED WITH EMBOSSED
LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_. GERMAN, 16TH CENTURY.]

[Illustration: 11. POWDER-FLASK OF WOOD COVERED WITH LEATHER, _CUIR
BOUILLI_, CUT AND EMBOSSED. ITALIAN, 16TH CENTURY.]


                           POLYCHROME MOSAIC

[Illustration: FIG. 32.——POLISHING MOSAIC]

This style of decoration consists of different coloured leathers arranged
upon a ground, and is the only one that can properly be called leather
mosaic. The work of marking it out is a lengthy one and demands scrupulous
exactitude. A finished design is first painted in water-colours and marked
with letters which are repeated on the pieces of coloured leather, so
that the exact place is indicated which they are to occupy in the design.
It is important in this style of mosaic to obtain a very correct tracing
of the design on the groundwork. On a smooth and light ground the
tracing-point lightly worked will be sufficient; when the ground is dark
or has a grained surface, red or white transfer paper should be used. The
most satisfactory method of marking the design is by impressing a stencil
of thick paper, but it cannot be employed with morocco leather for fear of
crushing the grain too much. A thick stencil, however, carefully used
without exerting great pressure, may give a sufficient result without
spoiling the grain.

For polychrome mosaic on a smooth ground with an inlay of split sheepskin
pasted on Canson paper, the method already described for working mosaic of
one colour is the best, but at the same time the directions which are
given below for placing the differently coloured skins side by side in
position should be followed.


               POLYCHROME MOSAIC ON A MOROCCO GROUNDWORK

Morocco leather for inlaying is thinned with the paring-knife, but it
cannot be reduced to the excessive thinness of split sheepskin. It
possesses, however, the advantage that the extreme edges may be made
thinner in proportion for laying one over the other at the point where
they meet.

After it is pared, the back of the leather is pasted over and it is pinned
out on a board to dry. The different parts of the design to be inlaid are
then traced on the various coloured leathers, and cut out in the manner
already explained. The difficulty of placing the pieces exactly edge to
edge is so great that it is better to allow them to overlap very slightly,
but in order that this should not produce undue thickness at the point
where they join, the substance of the extreme edges must be further
reduced with the paring-knife. A small margin is left for this purpose in
cutting out. Paring the edges to their thinnest possible substance will
give a slightly jagged outline, and the extra piece will thus more easily
merge into the join than if sharply cut. Outlining with the hot tool will
perfect the join.


               PASTING THE INLAY ON A MOROCCO GROUNDWORK

To avoid crushing the grain of rough morocco, the tool illustrated in Fig.
33 is used instead of the roller to secure the adhesion of the inlay to
the groundwork, in order that the pressure may be applied only upon the
inlay. Damping the groundwork, except where the ornament is placed, should
be avoided. The tool is held pressed down with both hands as in Fig. 34,
and rubbed backwards and forwards. The work is then placed under boards.


                       MOSAIC ON MODELLED LEATHER

The remarks on paring leather for polychrome mosaic apply also to paring
the leather for covering a design in relief. An extra margin is left round
the edges, which are “slashed” with the tool, so that they may better
embrace the form of the modelling, the finer details of which are not
worked until afterwards. The leather is first placed dry in position over
the modelling, and smoothed over with a modeller, so that it takes the
form of the relief. It will then be seen how much should be cut from the
edges, so that it may exactly fit into the outline when it is pasted on.


                            INSERTED MOSAIC

This method of mosaic invented by Mons. Aumaître possesses the advantage
of being very durable, owing to the edges of the inlay being secured
between the two edges of the incision made in the groundwork. The outline
is deeply cut in the groundwork, the incision well opened with the opener
and then filled with paste. The inlay is also pasted and the edges
inserted in the incision. A wheel or a large modeller is used to press
down the edges, and the outline is then gone over with a hot tool.

[Illustration: FIG. 33, FIG. 34.——STICKING INLAY ON MOROCCO GROUND WITH
TOOL (FIG. 33) INSTEAD OF ROLLER, TO AVOID CRUSHING THE GRAIN]

[Illustration: 12. SHIELD OF CUT AND EMBOSSED LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_.
ITALIAN, 16TH CENTURY.]


                            MOSAIC IN RELIEF

The term mosaic is perhaps not very correctly applied to this style of
decoration, in which the shape of the design is indented, by pressure, on
the damp surface of the groundwork, and filled in with an inlay of
leathers thick enough to stand out in relief, and be subsequently carved.
A thin kind of cowhide[8] specially prepared for embossed work is used.
The design is traced upon it in the manner described for carved leather,
and a preliminary modelling is executed indicating the outlines and
veinings as strongly as possible. The high reliefs may be embossed and
lightly stuffed. This done, it is placed upon Bristol board, not less than
half the thickness of the leather itself, with a piece of red transfer
paper face downwards in between. The whole is firmly fixed upon a drawing
board so that nothing can get displaced, and the design is cut out with a
stencil-cutter’s knife (Fig. 22). If possible, both leather and Bristol
board should be cut through at the same time, but should the knife not
penetrate the latter sufficiently to cut it through, the outline will have
been marked on it by the transfer paper and it may be cut out separately.
The leather and the board must, however, be absolutely identical in shape
and very sharply cut. With the die thus formed by the Bristol board, the
morocco groundwork is depressed to receive the inlay. It is thoroughly
wetted and the water allowed to sink in. The board is then placed in the
exact position which the leather inlay is to occupy, and covered with a
very thick sheet of blotting-paper to protect the grain of the groundwork
from being crushed too much. The whole is well pressed in the
copying-press until the die has sufficiently entered into the leather. The
leather inlay should then be tried in the hollow thus produced, and
trimmed where necessary if it be too large. After pasting it thoroughly,
taking care not to omit any small points, it is placed in position on the
groundwork and worked into the hollow with a modeller. The work is then
placed under boards to dry; a press would flatten the relief too much.

[8] Kip-skins.

When the paste is quite dry and the leather well stuck, the carving may be
proceeded with as described in Chapter II.

Very characteristic effects are obtained by colouring leather worked in
this manner.


                            INCRUSTED MOSAIC

The following description of a style of decoration, called by Mons.
Belleville “incrusted mosaic,”[9] is derived from the valuable work of
that author, entitled _Le Cuir dans la Décoration Moderne_.

[9] _Mosaïque par Incrustation._

In incrusted mosaic the design is not cut out and applied on the
background, but the different pieces of coloured leather forming the
design and the leather of the background are placed side by side on the
same plane. When the ornament is simple and the background plain, the
design is traced on the groundwork, carefully cut out, and used as a
pattern for cutting out the piece destined to replace it; when the
ornament is to embrace the whole surface, the following method is
recommended: The design, drawn on paper and coloured, is fixed on a
drawing-board and over it is placed a sheet of transparent paper, or some
thin muslin carefully sized and stretched. An exact tracing of the design
is made on rather stiff paper, which is coloured or numbered to correspond
with the pieces of the different leathers which are to compose the mosaic.
The tracing is then cut out, separated, and the pieces pasted on the
corresponding leather, either with the face on the flesh side of the
leather, or the back on its surface. In the latter case it is very lightly
done, but if pasted on the flesh side it should be done securely, as it
will remain permanently. When all these pieces are cut out of the leather
they are pasted in their respective places on the design, and the whole
put in the press for about ten hours. If the work has been well executed,
the lines where the pieces of leather come together will be hardly
visible; the next step is to accentuate them and make them regular. This
may be done either with a heated wheel giving a smooth even line, which
may, if desired, be subsequently gilded, or by pyrogravure. Vigour and
character can be imparted to the outline by the use of the latter process,
and the darkened colour of the burnt line is made more brilliant by
polishing it with an agate burnisher. In either case the tool must be
worked accurately with its edge half on each side of the line. The main
advantage of the process of incrusted mosaic is that the grain of the
leather employed is better displayed than in inlaid mosaic. It is only
suitable for work on a large scale.



                               CHAPTER IV

                     DYES, PATINES[10] AND GILDING


[10] _Patine_ represents a veneer, or wash of colour, applied on the
surface, or in the hollows of leather, to intensify its tone, or to give
artificial effects, such as those of verdigris, rust, or antiquity.

Partly owing to its nature, and partly owing to the tanning process,
leather is susceptible to the action of the dyes used to colour it in
degrees varying according to their composition and penetration. We will
not attempt to enumerate all the dyes that may be employed or to describe
their composition. Excellent results can be obtained with ready made
preparations, and some brief remarks on the subject are all that is
necessary for the purpose of this work.

Practical experience alone is a reliable guide in the selection of dyes,
as, whatever their base may be, they all vary greatly in use. It may be
remarked that there are many aniline dyes which are more durable than
vegetable ones, although there are others which merit their reputation for
instability. The colour of dyed leather cannot be expected to remain
unaffected by constant exposure to direct sunlight, but it should not
alter with ordinary use.[11]

[11] See the remarks on Leather for Bookbinding in the Note at the end of
this volume.

It is obvious that, in proportion as the colours sink into the leather,
they will lose in brilliancy, but on the other hand, this very absorption,
which allows colours to be superposed and appear translucent, gives a
depth rarely obtainable in materials of less capillarity.

[Illustration: 13. TOP OF CASKET COVERED WITH BROWN CALF, CUT AND SLIGHTLY
EMBOSSED. BY FLORENCE HORNBLOWER. MODERN ENGLISH.]

The following notes are intended merely as a general indication of the
manner of treating the various substances used in colouring leather.

The substance sold by druggists under the name of potassium is very
violent in its action and would burn the leather as well as the brushes
used to apply it. It should only be employed, and that very sparingly, for
such purposes as black lettering. Pearl-ash should be used in preference,
but also with great caution, or it will not only destroy the surface, but
rot the substance of the leather.

Potash is soluble in water to saturation point, that is to say, a given
quantity of water will not dissolve more than a given quantity of potash.

It is very difficult to measure the exact strength to use; that which is
barely sufficient to penetrate and colour a surface artificially made
smooth by rolling, will sink in where the leather has been cut or punched
and immediately darken it considerably. It is a good plan therefore to
experiment on a spare piece of the leather. Potash lye is more easily used
in the right proportion, and may be employed for staining very light
coloured leather.

Soda has the same effect as potash, except that it is a little less
strong; both substances have always been much employed in dyeing skins.
Permanganate of potash is supposed to dye a mouse-grey colour, but it is
most uncertain in its action, as it depends entirely on the porosity of
the leather. Xanthin and catechol browns are pleasing in appearance, but
their effect is less rich than that obtained with potash. They become
improved by hard rubbing with encaustic.

Sulphate of iron has a strong and persistent odour and is also somewhat
injurious. It is useful, however, and produces a colour varying from a
light shade to an intense violet black. When used over potash, a dead
black is obtained.


                                  REDS

Alizarin, the colouring principle of madder, which can also be obtained
from coal-tar, is employed in many colour combinations and gives a fine
durable red. Hydrochloric acid changes it to violet. Carthamine and
cochineal also produce good reds; the latter is turned orange by the
action of hydrochloric acid.

Hydrochloric acid turns ammoniacal cochineal pink, but merely discolours
the red made from archil. Direct extracts of red wood are unaffected by
it.

The colouring matter of logwood, extracted by treating the powder obtained
from an aqueous decoction of the wood with spirit, is sold as hematoxylin.
Metallic salts convert it to a violet black, salts of tin change it to
pink, alkalis to blue, and acids to yellow. Durable pinks are obtained
directly from carthamine, the colouring matter of _Carthamus Tinctorius_.


                                YELLOWS

The base of most fine yellows is picric acid. The chromates of zinc and
baryta give very permanent yellows, which are particularly useful in
mixing greens.

The vegetable yellows are less durable. They include turmeric, which is
especially fugitive, and quercitron; the former is turned red, and the
latter brown, by the action of hydrochloric acid.

Orange tints are easily obtained by using red over yellow, first allowing
the yellow to dry completely; or they can be bought ready prepared with
alizarin. Mandarine and nasturtium tints can also be bought ready
prepared, or may be made by a mixture of vegetable colour, such as saffron
and arnotto.

[Illustration: 14. EMBOSSED AND PUNCHED BROWN CALF BINDING. _RUBÁIYÁT OF
OMAR KHAYYÁM._ DESIGNED BY MARY G. HOUSTON. MODERN ENGLISH.]


                                 BLUES

Good and durable blues are obtained from indigo and alizarin.


                                 GREENS

Greens of every composition are fugitive, especially those sold ready
mixed. Better results are obtained by applying yellow and blue one over
the other than by the direct application of the colour, but when the range
of tints thus afforded is too restricted, recourse must be had to some of
the numerous dyes varying in tint from greenish yellow to deep olive.
Successive applications of sulphate of iron and picric yellow will produce
the latter colour, and a vegetable green, which, however, is not very
durable, is made from buckthorn berries.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the dyes which have been just enumerated, which form, however, but a
very small proportion of those in existence, are employed in dyeing
textiles. These materials have first to be treated with mordants such as
tannin, chrome or sumach, in order that they may take the dye, whereas
leather is already prepared to receive it by the tanning process.

Ordinary water-colours based on glycerine or albumen can be used in the
decoration of leather, but are recommended only for colouring small parts
of a design, partly because liquid colour is more easily applied over
large surfaces, and partly because, being less transparent, they do not
lend themselves to the process of rubbing which plays so important a part
in _patine_. Oil or spirit colours, on the other hand, possess a
transparency which allows of their being used over a ground coloured with
a different medium. When the leather on which they are painted is undyed
it should first receive a coat of paste.

Colours sold under the name of _patines grasses_ will produce a groundwork
of great brilliancy, if well rubbed before they are quite dry.

The use of _gouache_ should be limited to the hollow parts of incised or
punched leather.

Gold and bronzes are also used with good effect.


                 DIFFERENT METHODS OF COLOURING LEATHER

Colours obtained from potash and sulphate of iron——dark green, dull red,
etc.——are much used for groundwork. Potash produces a warm brownish-red,
and tints, varying in colour from a pale to a dark slate grey, are
obtained with sulphate of iron. As already stated, a coating of picric
yellow over the latter will give a dull green.

In colouring large surfaces, it is best to use soft sponges, or small pads
of cotton-wool covered with soft linen. The pads can be held by the edges
of the linen and the sponges may be mounted on handles, but the best
protection for the hands against staining is a pair of very soft rubber
gloves like those used by surgeons.

The leather is first damped all over and the colour then applied in a
succession of even washes. Care must be taken not to unduly darken any
part of the leather by using too much colour, bearing in mind that
different parts of the skin will vary greatly in porosity. In colouring
groundwork with various superposed tints, the actual results are often
entirely different from those one has had reason to expect. So far as is
possible, in order to prevent this from happening, it is advisable not to
mix the colours of different makers on the same piece of work without
knowing their composition, or first experimenting with them on a spare
piece of the leather.

A second colour should never be added until the underneath one is dry, or
a muddy effect will result. If the colour becomes too dark, or if the
second stain predominates unduly instead of merging into the underneath
one, the whole work, fixed firmly on a board, should be dipped in water
and scrubbed with a very soft brush and some soft soap. It should then be
allowed to dry in the sun. This method of making the colour lighter can
only be used when the ornament is not in relief; it has been found
particularly successful in treating potash and sulphate dyes.

Ox-hide, light or fawn-coloured calf, pigskin and white morocco are
leathers suitable for colouring. They are, however, very absorbent, and
will require an application of paste before staining. This will also be
found indispensable in colouring the white split sheepskins used in
mosaic.

In staining leather for mosaic, several successive applications of colour
will be required, especially in the case of greens which sink in quickly.

In addition to plain dyeing, there are various methods of producing shaded
groundwork, marbling, sprinkling, etc.


                           SHADED GROUNDWORK

For shaded groundwork diluted colour is applied with a sponge or pad
worked over the leather with a circular movement, and the uniform tint
thus obtained is darkened as required by further applications with
stronger colour. In shading a ground from one colour to another, as for
example from dark olive to malachite green, orange red and pale yellow,
the edge of each colour, as it is put on, is covered with a piece of thick
paper, which must be firmly held in place, in order to prevent the colours
mixing where they come together.


                                MARBLING

A sponge with large holes is dipped in potash, sulphate of iron, or some
other deep coloured dye, and lightly applied over the surface of the
leather so that parts of it corresponding to the holes in the sponge are
left untouched; or the first application of colour may be made evenly over
the leather and the marbling worked, as described, in a second
application. Many varieties of pattern can be obtained by moving the
sponge in different ways. Leather may be bought ready marbled by a
gelatine process.


                             TREE MARBLING

The leather is first lightly pasted over, and drops of water, more or less
large, are scattered upon it by jerking the handle of a small couch-grass
whisk full of water against the left wrist held a few inches from the
surface of the leather. A very little colour is then taken in the brush
and jerked in the same manner over the drops of water, with which it will
partially mix and give the effect of roots branching out in all
directions. Variety can be obtained by applying the water with a sponge
instead of the brush, and the colour in large drops over the whole or
certain parts only of the field, or by using dyes of different colours
which give curious effects in combining. After applying the dye, the
surplus moisture is absorbed with blotting-paper.

The leather may be bleached to a light tint by means of an oil-paint brush
dipped in decolorant[12]; the bristles of the brush are pushed back with
the finger and when released jerk the acid in fine drops over the surface.
The leather must be freshly and thoroughly damped so that the outline of
the bleaching shades off into the ground.

[12] See page 71.


                               SPRINKLING

Sprinkling is done with a rather close iron grating and a long narrow
brush like a plate-brush. The dye is prepared on a flat plate and the
brush dipped in it, the superfluous liquid being removed against the edge
of the plate. The brush is rubbed backwards and forwards on the grating
held horizontally a few inches above the leather over which it scatters a
fine shower of the dye. Should the colour froth on the grating, the brush
must at once be rubbed upon oiled paper. Sprinkling may also be done with
a vaporiser for fixing drawings, but it is difficult to get a sufficiently
fine shower so that the drops do not merge into each other.

[Illustration: 15. MIRROR CASE OF PUNCHED BLACK LEATHER, _CUIR BOUILLI_;
EXECUTED BY MISS CASELLA. MODERN ENGLISH.]

The above process is a useful one when parts of the leather are to be
“reserved,” i.e., to remain untouched by the dye. For this purpose a piece
of strong paper is cut to the shape of the part to be reserved and pasted
lightly to the leather during the process of sprinkling, after which it is
damped and removed. Another method is to paint the reserved parts with one
of the two preparations given by Mons. Belleville in _Le Cuir dans la
Décoration Moderne_, afterwards removing it with benzine or petroleum
spirit:——“Eighty parts of colophony, 4 of yellow wax, 6 of spermaceti, 4
of tallow, 60 of spirit of turpentine and 10 of alcohol.”

Or, “One hundred parts of virgin wax, and the same of castor oil, with 25
of borax and 25 of copal varnish.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Instead of reserving the parts of the leather, the dye may be removed
subsequently by means of reagents called decolorants. Sulphuric,
hydrochloric, oxalic, nitric, or muriatic acid diluted with water in the
proportion of one in five, can be used for this purpose, but their effect
should first be tried on a spare piece of the leather, as it will vary
according to the nature of the dye on which they are used. It should be
noticed that, in mixing the acid, the right quantity of water must be
measured out and the acid carefully added drop by drop. If water is poured
into acid it causes an explosion.

The outline is traced rather deeply on the leather, so that it is still
visible after the groundwork has been dyed. When the dye has sunk in, the
decolorant can be easily applied with a paint-brush. On modelled leather
dyed bronze green, a rag or piece of cotton-wool dipped in decolorant and
quickly passed over the relief, will lighten the colour and produce the
effect of bronze with the exposed parts rubbed lighter by use. Should the
effect of the acid be too strong, the colour may be again deepened by
washing the leather over with a yellowish gold stain, which will only take
effect on the relief, since it will merge into the darker colour of the
rest of the work. The same process may be employed on white calf with a
light olive dye to obtain the effect of old ivory. Even when much diluted,
however, the action of these acids must in the end be injurious to the
leather. They should be used with great care and never undiluted. Where
possible, washing the leather over afterwards with water will, to some
extent, diminish their harmful effect.

Stencilling is another process by which portions of the leather forming
the ornament are reserved from the dye used in colouring the ground. The
design is cut out of a very thin sheet of copper or tin. A large
short-haired brush[13] is used to take the dye from a plate, or pad, and
is then rubbed very lightly over the stencil firmly fixed on the leather.
Only the parts unprotected by the stencil will take the colour. The brush
must not be too full or the dye would have a tendency to run under the
stencil. The most suitable dyes are glycerine inks and marking inks
containing nitrate of silver. A variety of colours may be mixed with
glycerine for this purpose. The ink thus obtained is transferred to a
cloth pad, such as is used by printers, from which the brush will only
take the required quantity.

[13] _Pompon._

When the leather is dry a lighter tint, transparent enough to allow the
stencilled design to be visible through it, may be washed over the whole.
Excellent effects of considerable richness can thus be produced. The depth
of colour is further increased by the process of rubbing, which is
necessary to the proper _patine_ of leather. If done with wax, encaustic
or varnish, it is an effective protection for the surface of the leather
against deterioration from outside causes. With certain soft leathers, if
the colour has not sunk in deeply, rubbing with the finger alone will give
it great brilliancy; with other leathers the rubbing will produce an
effect in proportion to the degree of porosity of the skin. It should
always be done before the colour is dry, but not until it has penetrated
sufficiently into the leather not to return to the surface with the
pressure. The middle finger is used. A certain amount of polish can be
given to the leather by rubbing it only with the finger (moistened with a
little oil to allow it to slide easily), or, for a large surface, with the
side of the hand instead of the finger. When a medium is used, it is
applied with a circular movement by means of flannel or rag; a flannel
brush consisting of a series of little flannel rolls, which can be bought
at a surgical instrument-maker’s, is very useful for a large surface
requiring much rubbing. Pure wax, which must be softened in the hand to
make it spread evenly, encaustic and spirit varnish are all efficacious in
preserving the colour and increasing its transparency.

Another method giving excellent results consists in applying opaque
colour, _gouache_ or bronzes in the hollows of a design and removing the
surplus of the colour by rubbing. In this way an incised design can be
boldly outlined in light on a dark ground, and may afterwards be bleached
within the outlines if desired. After cutting the design on the leather,
the whole surface is washed over with potash or any other dark stain, a
coat of paste is then applied and immediately wiped off, so that some of
it only remains in the hollows. When the paste is dry, some rather liquid
_gouache_ is washed over and run into the lines, any remaining on the
surface being removed by vigorous rubbing with a damp rag. The same
process may be applied to the hollows of punched leather. In using bronzes
or gold in powder, some spirit varnish or specially prepared varnish is
necessary to make them adhere. After applying the varnish, the surface is
wiped over to remove all except that which is deposited in the
interstices, and when this is sufficiently dry to hold the powder, the
latter is put on with a very soft, short-haired brush and adheres to the
varnish. The surface is then rubbed in the manner already described. All
powder colours do not mix equally well with varnish; green and blue
bronzes often change colour when brought in contact with it. Gold and
silver powder give good results, used either dry or mixed with gum on
shells. Chinese vermilion may also be employed with varnish, but other
colours are more suitable for this purpose when prepared in the form of
_gouache_.


                                GILDING

Special manipulation is required for gold leaf applied to the decoration
of leather. For gilding over a whole surface, as for instance an aureole
round the head of a saint, the following is the best method. Several
layers of starch paste are painted with a brush over the part of the
leather to be gilded, and followed when dry by a little gelatine paste. A
coating of some special preparation is then applied and allowed to dry to
the right condition to retain the gold leaf, which varies according to the
nature of the preparation; the degree of moisture can be tested with the
finger. Gold leaf is sold in small books and is exceedingly thin. A
flexible knife, like a palette knife, is used to manipulate it, and a
single leaf is laid on a cushion of deerskin stuffed with wadding, and cut
to the required size. It is then placed over the preparation on the
leather and lightly pressed down with a very soft, round, short-haired
brush.

[Illustration: 16. BLACK MOROCCO BINDING WITH APPLIED PANELS OF TOOLED,
CUT, PAINTED AND GILT CALF. _LE ROMAN DE TRISTAN ET ISEUT._ DESIGNED BY
ROBERT ENGELS. MODERN FRENCH.]

For gilding with hot tools a specially prepared powder made of resin or
gum is used. This powder melts with the heat of the tool and causes the
gold leaf to adhere to the leather only where it comes in contact with the
parts of the tool cut in relief. The process is as follows: Some powder is
lightly spread over the part of the leather to be gilded and a piece of
gold leaf laid over it, the tool is heated sufficiently to melt the powder
without burning the leather and is carefully applied on the right spot,
the surplus gold being afterwards removed with the short brush. The tools
used by bookbinders are slightly convex, so that firm and even pressure of
the whole tool can be exerted by first inclining the handle towards the
gilder, and then raising it while still maintaining the pressure and
inclining it at the opposite angle.

Gold can also be applied with a brush in the form of powder suspended in
liquid gum or spirit varnish. If it does not spread evenly, owing to there
being too much liquid in proportion to the powder, dry powder may be added
where necessary with a short brush when the liquid is almost dry.

Shell gold is applied with a slightly damped brush and, when dry, may be
burnished with an agate or punch; the design of the punch will stand out
in bright gold on a ground of dull gold. The pressure of the wrist is
sufficient to work the punch and a hammer should not be used.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is an interesting field for the artist’s enterprise in the discovery
of new processes for the decoration of leather by means of colours and
bronzes. It is not possible within the limits of a single chapter to give
a complete list of the many methods that may be employed.[14]

[14] As a conclusion to this chapter, the French edition quotes from the
_Bulletin de la Société de l’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale_
some extracts from the _Report of the Committee on Leather for
Bookbinding_, published by the Society of Arts in London (1901), which
will be found in the Note at the end of this volume.



                               CHAPTER V

                    THE CHOICE OF DESIGN AND COLOUR


The present chapter is devoted to some remarks on colour combination and
the composition of ornament, based on the personal experience of the
author.

Three colours, for the groundwork, ornament and high lights respectively,
will, in many cases, be found sufficient for a scheme of decoration. A
multitude of colours, worked in great detail on a relatively small
surface, confuse the eye and hinder it from grasping the effect of the
decoration as a whole. Only special styles of decoration, such as Moorish
geometrical patterns, allow of the use of a great variety of colours. The
circumstance already explained, that in leather decoration dyes may be
used one over the other, enables interesting effects to be produced.

A design of sea, with seaweed and fish, can be effectively rendered
entirely with sulphate of iron of varying strength. A weak solution is
washed evenly over the whole; the waves are then drawn in with a flat
brush dipped in a stronger solution, and the dark outlines afterwards
bleached with acid where they border the first tint. The fish and seaweed
in relief are similarly treated with decolorant, and a light wash of
yellow over the whole completes an effective decoration.

The foliage of the chestnut tree in autumn lends itself exceptionally well
to decorative treatment, both as regards form and colour. The large
variety of greens and yellows are most effective on a ground of brickdust
red.

A groundwork of soft grey, brightened by an underwash of very pale yellow,
is suitable for reserved or bleached designs. Deep carmine constitutes a
rich colour for groundwork, and is produced by using bright red over
potash and deepening the effect by rubbing.

In planning a decoration, the artist has generally some special effect in
his mind which he wishes to reproduce. It is not unusual, however, for the
result to be totally different from what is anticipated, since uncertainty
constitutes one of the charms of the art of colouring leather. These
failures, as they may be considered from one point of view, often produce
interesting effects and sometimes lead to valuable discoveries.

Marbled leather should be decorated with flat ornament only.

Figures in high relief belong properly to the domain of the sculptor and
should be avoided in leather work, much of its individuality lying in the
value of the outline in producing an effect of relief.

Some skilful artists produce in leather not only the relief, but the
turned over edges of petals, etc., and treat twisted ribbons in open-work;
the result, though pleasing, is essentially evanescent, owing to the
extreme fragility of the detached portions of the leather.

Of all the uses to which leather work may be applied, none offer greater
scope to the inspiration of the artist than bookbinding. It has become the
fashion not only to provide a more or less rich covering for a beautiful
edition, but to suggest in its design the nature of the contents of the
volume, should these lend themselves to such treatment. The artist,
however, will do well to practise this principle with due restraint,
avoiding, on the one hand, what may be called anecdotal design, and, on
the other, an over subtle symbolism.

Leather coffers, when well executed, constitute veritable works of art.
They present considerable difficulties in the mounting of the leather
over the wooden coffer so that the lines of the ornament come exactly in
the right place. It is necessary that the lines forming the framework of
the design should accurately correspond with the dimensions of the coffer
to be covered. A coffer usually consists of a box with a hinged lid; the
measure is taken by laying the leather round the whole; the leather is
then cut, leaving a small surplus at the edges to be pared and folded over
at the sides. The join should be arranged for at the lower border and not
at the intersection of the lid and the box. The leather at this point is
better left to be cut after it has been stuck on the wood in mounting.

When the leather is decorated in mosaic and consists of panels each
enclosed within a patterned border, the probability of its stretching when
it is fixed on the wood, must be taken into consideration; Cape morocco,
however, if fairly thick will hardly stretch perceptibly.

During the process of outlining the design, which is done before mounting
the leather on the wood, it should be stretched to its full extent on a
flat board.

When the decoration is in relief, the padding should be very firm, so as
to counteract the tendency to stretch during the process of mounting.

Generally speaking, designs based on naturalistic flowers do not give the
most satisfactory effects in the decoration of coffers, since the style is
not suited to the restricted size of the panels, even when the design
ignores them and extends beyond. Designs in the modern style, or Gothic
designs in the style of the fifteenth century, or those based on the
Arabic decoration of the best period, are much to be preferred; in the
last two styles punches used with a hammer will greatly assist in lowering
the groundwork, so that the design stands out in relief without the
necessity of stuffing it, as in embossed work. By introducing _gouache_ or
bronzes into the impressions made with the punches, rich effects of colour
can be produced.

[Illustration: 17. BINDING OF STAINED CALF, CUT, EMBOSSED, TOOLED AND
_PATINATED_ BY HENRI GODIN. MODERN FRENCH.]

There are numerous other styles appropriate to the decoration of leather
coffers.

In the decoration of large surfaces, such as the panels of wall-hangings,
the artist is cautioned against the abuse of detail, frequently the
stumbling-block of the beginner. He is recommended to exercise a wise
restraint in his composition, and to avail himself of the numerous
resources of the conventional art of the modern school more particularly
in their application to the ornamentation of large surfaces. Technical
efficiency in the use of the tools is essential and must be gained by
practice, but may be said to be second in importance to a thorough
knowledge of decorative design, which can be attained only by the
intelligent study of the best models. The education of the eye is a
considerable factor in the conventional interpretation of natural forms.
The artist cannot do better than to study the ancient Japanese school,
which has found such favour with the initiators of the so-called “Modern
Art,” and which affords the best examples of balance in design in its
rejection of unnecessary detail in the interpretation of natural forms. He
may also find inspiration in the fields of Egyptian and Assyrian art, in
the interlaced patterns of the disciples of St. Dunstan, and in the quaint
renderings of leaves and flowers in the hangings and brocades of the
Middle Ages.



                                APPENDIX

                     LEATHER HANGINGS AND FURNITURE


The origin of the use of decorated leather for hangings and furniture has
been the subject of much controversy. After consulting various books on
the subject, we believe, as already stated, that its introduction into
Spain may be attributed to the Moorish conquerors about the eighth
century. In an Arabian manuscript of the sixth century of the Mohammedan
era, mention is made of the industry as flourishing in the town of
Ghadames in the Sahara. Jehan de Garlande, author of a Latin dictionary
composed in 1080, mentions _Cordouans_ first manufactured at Cordova in
the eleventh century. About the same time, the Monk Theophilus, in his
curious encyclopædia of the arts which unfortunately has not come down to
us in its complete form, gives the following description of the processes
of gilding leather:——

    “For laying on gold or silver, take the clear liquid of white of
    egg beaten up without water, paint some with a brush over the
    part which is to receive the gold or silver. Damping the end of
    the same brush in your mouth, bring it in contact with a corner
    of the cut leaf (of gold or silver). Then lifting it with
    extreme rapidity, you lay it on the prepared place and spread it
    with a dry brush. At this point you must take precautions
    against a draught, you must hold your breath, for if you breathe
    you will lose the leaf and find difficulty in recovering it.
    When in position and dry you may, if you wish, put a second over
    it in the same way, and then a third, if it is wanted, so as
    to be able to give a more brilliant polish with a burnisher.

    “You can, if you wish, apply the leaf on a ceiling or a wall; in
    the same manner, over a lining of tinfoil. If you have neither
    gold nor silver, you will use tinfoil, which you will apply
    thus....”[15]

[15] _Theophili Presbyteri et Monachi_, Libri 3 _seu Diversarum artium
schedula_. Chapter 24.

Until the middle of the seventeenth century, hangings, and even carpets,
of decorated leather formed an important item in those inventories of
princely possessions which are such a reliable and inexhaustible source of
information for the historian of the sumptuary arts.[16] Princes and other
great personages depended largely on decorated leather and tapestries,
when moving from place to place, to supplement the often hastily
improvised decoration of their temporary apartments.

[16] _Dictionnaire de l’Ameublement et de la Décoration depuis le 13me
Siècle jusqu’à nos Jours_, by Henry Havard.

The enumeration of all the different processes by which the leather was
ornamented would carry us beyond the limits of this appendix, and we will
confine ourselves to tracing in outline the development of the art of
working in leather as applied to hangings and furniture during the last
few centuries.

First in order of time we find skins covered with hair, sewn together for
carpets or hangings; different kinds being placed side by side, either
irregularly, or alternately to form a pattern. We are not, however, here
concerned with anything but leather proper, that is to say, skins with the
hair removed, and this was first decorated by means of a hot tool. The
addition of colour speedily followed. Dark coloured leathers were also
sewn as borders on lighter ones, and polished metal ornaments were added
to brighten the leather groundwork, a fashion borrowed from the method of
joining and strengthening the accoutrements of war.

Little by little, as the custom spread of reproducing the human figure and
animals, attempts were made to carry out whole pictures on panels made of
leather sewn together with the seams hammered flat. But painted leather
was still generally of comparatively small dimensions, and it would seem
that these pictures were designed chiefly for the ornamentation of chests.
The leather was first stretched over wooden panels, several panels being
sometimes placed side by side. A special paste was used, the object of
which was to cause the leather to shrink when dry, so as to make the
panels adhere more closely together. The following description by the Monk
Theophilus of the paste used in his time for this sort of work may
interest the reader:——

    “Panels for altars or doors are made thus:——First join some
    boards carefully one by one with the help of the joining tool
    used by coopers or joiners. They must be fastened together with
    cheese paste made in the following manner:——Some soft cow’s-milk
    cheese is cut very thin and washed with hot water in a mortar
    with a pestle, changing the water until it comes out clear. The
    cheese after being pressed in the hand is put into cold water
    until it hardens. It is then well crushed with a piece of wood
    on a smooth wooden table. In this condition it is put back into
    the mortar to be carefully pounded with the pestle, after having
    added water mixed with quicklime till it becomes thick like a
    sediment. Panels put together with this paste when dry, stick so
    fast that neither damp nor heat can separate them. They must
    then be made even with a special tool for this purpose. This
    tool, curved and sharp on the inside, has two handles, so that
    it may be used with both hands. It is used to level panels,
    doors and shields until they are perfectly smooth. They are then
    covered with untanned mule-skin or ox-hide, after it has been
    wetted and the hairs scraped off. The water is partly squeezed
    out, and while still damp it is stuck on with the cheese
    paste.”[17]

[17] _Theophili Presbyteri et Monachi_, Libri 3 _seu Diversarum artium
schedula_. Chapter 17.

[Illustration: 18. GOLD-TOOLED AND INLAID MOROCCO BINDING. _THE LETTERS OF
PRINCESS LIEVEN._ BY S. T. PRIDEAUX. MODERN ENGLISH.]

In the eleventh century we come to the first employment of gold leaf on
decorated leather, whence is derived the name, “or basané,” which it
afterwards received. The passage describing the process of gilding has
been quoted already (page 80), but each master of the art no doubt
introduced his own modifications.

With the introduction of gold, leather decoration assumed a magnificence
and importance hitherto unknown. The heads of the saints were surrounded
with golden haloes, and the gold and silver embroideries of the sacerdotal
ornaments were carried out in those metals on the leather. A little later
the knights are represented clad in brilliant armour with plumed helmets.
The correct rendering of the heraldic colouring of the coats of arms
figuring on shield and target then necessitated the use of a more extended
range of oil colours, until, little by little, decorated leather grew to
resemble the paintings of Van Orley.

Meanwhile, punches, cut in relief or in intaglio and used with a hammer,
were adopted to break the monotony of the groundwork and throw up the
relief of the ornament, and the fashion also arose of embossing leather
with a modelling tool or by means of stamps, the latter method necessarily
resulting in the substitution of repeating ornament for figures and
landscapes.

Leather manufactured in Spain, Portugal, Flanders, and later in England is
almost always decorated in high relief with touches of gold, the design
being principally flowers, foliage, cupids, pomegranates, etc. Venice
alone remained faithful to flat decoration with hollowed or merely
darkened outline in the cameo-like medallions of classical scenes painted
on groundwork whose design was borrowed from the gorgeous stuffs of the
East.

The fashion imported from Italy in the reign of Francis I of breaking up
surfaces with pilasters, cornices, medallions and ornaments in relief, was
instrumental in adding importance to small painted designs on leather
rather than to hangings properly so called. Some of these leather
paintings were like pictures and were used not only for wall decoration,
but as hangings for beds and even as bedspreads of state. The custom of
thus decorating beds lasted a long time. Pierre Bénard, an upholsterer by
trade, established in Paris, and author of a collection of songs dedicated
to the “Vertueuse Royne Marguerite,” first wife of Henri IV, refers to the
use of “or basané” in this manner as an evidence of wealth.

Already under Catherine de Médicis, decorated leather had become extremely
popular, and was preferred to all other hangings for the embellishment of
apartments; its popularity lost nothing under the second wife of Henry IV,
in whose native country this style of decoration was also held in great
favour. In the reign of Louis XIII the influence of Anne of Austria
brought Spanish leather again into fashion. From that time also, leather
gilt or stamped in its natural colour and ornamented with copper nails
(probably inspired by the marriage chests with their curious studded
ornament) was found in the mansions of the great and became the principal
material for covering chairs.

The grandiose style of architecture of the time of Louis XIV called for
the decoration of spaces framed in gorgeous pilasters and was favourable
to the application of decorated leather in the style of Bérain. But this
did not long remain popular, and leather was replaced by Gobelin and other
tapestries made in France, whose introduction gave the deathblow to the
manufacture of leather hangings.

From this period till the present day the art of gilding leather has been
on the decline. Of this no further proof is needed than the following
preface written in 1762 by Fougeroux de Boudaroy, who had been
commissioned by the Academy to take over the work of research, previously
conducted by Réaumur, on the subject of leather hangings:——

[Illustration: 19. BACK AND SEAT OF CHAIR IN CUT, EMBOSSED AND GILT
COWHIDE WITH PUNCHED BACKGROUND. EXECUTED BY ROSALIE VIGERS FROM A DESIGN
BY FREDERICK VIGERS. MODERN ENGLISH.]

    “Flanders, Holland and England are reputed to have furnished the
    first gilt or silvered leather hangings seen in Paris. Some
    attribute their invention to Spain, but without apparent reason,
    since to-day there are in France no such hangings of Spanish
    manufacture, nor are they much known in that country. The gilt
    leather hangings which come to us from Flanders are nearly all
    made at Lille, Brussels, Antwerp and Mechlin; those derived from
    the last-named place are the most prized of all. Some very fine
    ones which we have attempted to imitate are made in Venice;
    manufactures were also started at Lyons and met with success.

    “It was only about two centuries ago that this trade was
    established in Paris. We owe it to some Flemish workmen who
    settled in the capital and left successors there. But on account
    of the nation’s prejudice in favour of all that comes from
    abroad, the hangings from Holland and Flanders were always
    preferred to those of our own manufacture, although they did not
    surpass the latter in quality or in beauty.

    “Though equalling those of Holland and Flanders, it was not
    possible to find a sale for our hangings unless they were passed
    off as having been made in one or other of those provinces, and
    this was frequently done by our manufacturers. It must, however,
    be admitted that certain gilt leather hangings from England and
    Venice have never been equalled here. We are forced to allow
    their superiority in brilliancy, beauty of design and
    durability. Perhaps all that our workmen needed to be able to
    imitate them perfectly was to feel the assurance of greater
    constancy in our tastes, and to witness the cessation of that
    affection and preference for everything foreign, which might
    lead to the more favourable treatment of the native industry.

    “Gilt leather hangings were at one time much sought after. Their
    qualities of being, unlike woollen and other materials,
    unaffected by damp and insects, of retaining their brilliancy
    unimpaired by time, of not attracting dust, and of allowing it
    to be easily removed by washing with a sponge, and finally, of
    not lending themselves to the multiplication of the insects
    which in summer infest the capital and which find in other
    tapestries convenient nests for depositing their eggs, were all
    advantages, forming so many reasons for their being in demand
    and gaining for them a place in the apartments of the great, of
    which they frequently constituted the ornament. But to-day, a
    change of taste and the dictates of fashion which outweighs even
    the advantages and conveniences of life, have caused them to be
    almost forgotten and relegated them to the ante-rooms of a few
    county houses where some of the earliest are to be found, nearly
    as beautiful as when they were first made in Paris.

    “Now that the art is less in vogue, we think it a suitable time
    to describe it to the public, thus following the intention of
    the Academy of allowing nothing to be lost that may now or
    hereafter be useful to the cause of art. We may at any time be
    desirous of returning to these older fashions, no longer being
    able to vary them, and this may be among those destined to
    return to favour. At any rate, it will be agreed that some of
    its processes merit description, and might find their
    application in other arts and help in bringing them to
    perfection.”

[Illustration: 20. EMBOSSED CALF BINDING. _BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER._
EXECUTED BY ROSALIE VIGERS FROM A DESIGN BY FREDERICK VIGERS. MODERN
ENGLISH.]

The same author describes minutely and very clearly the various processes
in use at the time for gilding or silvering leather. Instead of
silver-gilt, which is necessarily very costly, he recommends silver leaf
burnished and covered with a varnish, for which he gives the following
recipe, found by him, as he modestly acknowledges, among the papers of
Mons. de Réaumur:——

    “Take four and a half pounds of colophony, the same quantity of
    ordinary resin, two and a half pounds of sandarach and two of
    aloes; mix these four drugs together, after having broken up
    those which are in large pieces, and put them in an earthen pot
    on a good charcoal fire. It is better for the fire to be of
    charcoal, because it makes but little flame, which would be
    dangerous if it should enter the vessel, as the ingredients are
    very inflammable. To guard against this accident and others of
    which we will speak later on, the vessel must be chosen large
    enough not to be more than half-filled by the drugs already
    mentioned and the others yet to be added, as will presently be
    explained. It is well also for it to widen out at the top, or to
    have a rim that will project the flame outwards. These are small
    precautions which it is always better to take; some, however,
    neglect them, and make their varnish on a wood fire, and then
    double attention must be given to prevent the drugs igniting.

    “Melt all these drugs in the pot and stir them with a spatula so
    that they mix together and do not stick to the bottom. When they
    are well melted, pour in seven pints of linseed oil and mix it
    with the drugs, using the spatula. Cook the whole, stirring it
    from time to time to prevent as much as possible a kind of
    sediment which forms and does not mix with the oil from sticking
    to the bottom of the vessel. When the varnish is cooked, pass it
    through a cloth or strainer.

    “This quantity of varnish should, according to workmen, remain
    seven to eight hours on the fire to cook, but this cannot be
    regarded as an invariable rule. It will not take so long to cook
    on a large fire. A better test used by workmen in manufacturing
    varnish is to take a few drops of the liquid with the spatula
    and lay it over silver leaf on some leather; or else they take
    some of the varnish in a silver spoon and, by trying it with the
    finger tip as if it were syrup, find out if it is cooked enough.
    If it ropes in cooling, or if the finger has a tendency to stick
    when it is gently withdrawn, it is a sign that it is
    sufficiently cooked, that is to say that it has arrived at the
    consistency of a thickish syrup. The varnish is then brown in
    colour, and curiously enough when laid over silver it becomes
    transparent and gives the effect of brilliant gold.”

While on the subject of gold groundwork made with gold or silver leaf or
tin-foil covered with varnish to imitate the colour of gold, it is curious
to note how far back in the history of art its origin can be traced; after
the Greeks, the Byzantines made use of and, it may also be said, abused
it. This want of moderation in the use of gold is to be met with long
afterwards, for it is mentioned in his book on painting by L. Benedetto
Alberti who died in Rome in 1472.[18]

[18] _Sunt qui auro immodice utantur, quam aurum putent historiæ affere
majestatem._ L. B. Alberti, _De Pictura_, Book 2, page 25, _ad finem
Vitruv. Elzevir. f._

Van Orley, Raphael’s pupil, when painting his “Last Judgment” at Antwerp,
had his panel gilt in order to obtain “a beautiful transparency.”[19]

[19] Decamps. _Vie des peintres flamands._ Paris, 1753, 4 vols. Vol. 1,
page 39.

We have quoted above the formula for golden varnish given by Fougeroux de
Boudaroy which he ascribes to Réaumur. It may be found interesting to
compare with it that given by the Monk Theophilus in his _Diversarum
Artium Schedula_:——

    “Put some linseed oil in a small new pot; add some gum arabic
    called _fornis_ pounded very fine; this gum is like very light
    incense, but is more brilliant when broken up. Place it on a
    charcoal fire and cook it carefully without allowing it to boil,
    until it is reduced by one third. Be very careful of flames, for
    they are very dangerous, and the preparation is difficult to
    extinguish if it once catches fire. Any painting coated with
    this varnish becomes brilliant, beautiful and perfectly
    lasting....

    “Another method. Arrange three or four stones which will stand
    the fire without breaking, or bricks may be used instead. On
    these place a new pot, pour into it some _fornis_ mentioned
    above, called by the Romans “glossa,” otherwise gum arabic. Over
    the opening of the pot, put a smaller one having a little hole
    at the bottom; fill in with clay so that no space remains
    between them. Carefully light a fire underneath the apparatus
    until the gum liquefies. You will also have a thin tool with a
    handle which will serve to stir the gum and to find out the
    exact moment when it becomes perfectly liquid. Have a third pot
    on charcoal by you in which there is hot linseed oil; when the
    gum is quite liquid, so that a thread of it hangs from the tool
    when it is withdrawn, pour in the hot oil, stir with the tool,
    and, when in this condition, cook all together without letting
    it boil, take out the tool from time to time and spread a little
    of the mixture on wood or stone to try its density. With regard
    to the proportion, be careful that there are two thirds of oil
    to one of gum. When it is cooked according to your judgment,
    take it off the fire and, covering it with care, let it cool.

    “_Of the Method of Colouring Tinfoil to give it the Appearance
    of being Gilt, so that it may be used when Gold cannot be had._

    “Place the pieces (of tinfoil) side by side on the board, fasten
    them one by one to the wood with wax, so that they cannot get
    displaced, spread over them with the hand a coating of the
    varnish described above, and let them dry in the sun. After that
    take some sticks of rotten wood cut in April, slit in half and
    smoke dried. Peel off the outer bark and the second, which is
    the colour of saffron; scrape it into a clean vessel, adding to
    it a fifth part of saffron, macerate it well in old wine or ale;
    after letting it stand during the night, make it lukewarm the
    next morning. When in this condition, dip in the sheets of
    tinfoil one by one, frequently taking them out until you find
    them assume a golden shade, when you will again fix them on the
    wooden board and apply a coat of varnish as before; when dry you
    will have sheets of tinfoil that you can use as you wish in your
    work....”[20]

[20] _Diversarum artium schedula_, Book 1. Chapters 21 and 36.

Although it may not be possible for an amateur, incompletely equipped with
the necessary implements, to reproduce the marvellous work of a byegone
age, there are still many methods of decoration for him to attempt which
will be equally attractive in modern surroundings.



                                  NOTE

           SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON
           LEATHER FOR BOOKBINDING, APPOINTED BY THE COUNCIL
                OF THE SOCIETY OF ARTS, FEBRUARY, 1900.


“This Committee met for the first time on May 3, 1900.... Its first step
was to appoint two Sub-Committees from amongst its members. The first of
these was to visit a selected number of libraries, and to ascertain the
comparative durability of the various bookbinding leathers used at
different periods and preserved under different conditions.... The second
... was appointed to deal with the scientific side of the matter, to
ascertain the cause of any deterioration noticed, and, if possible, to
suggest methods for its prevention in the future....

“The first step taken by the (first) Sub-Committee was to visit a number
of libraries, including that of the British Museum, the Bodleian Library,
Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge, the libraries of the Athenæum
Club, of the Patent Office and of the Chemical Society, also the valuable
private library of Mr. Huth....

“As regards the common belief that modern binding leather does decay
prematurely, the Sub-Committee satisfied themselves that books bound
during the last eighty or hundred years showed far greater evidence of
deterioration than those of an earlier date. Many recent bindings showed
evidence of decay after so short a period as ten, or even five years. The
Sub-Committee came to the conclusion that there is ample justification for
the general complaint that modern leather is not so durable as that
formerly used. To fix the date of the commencement of this deterioration
was a difficult matter; but they came to the conclusion that while
leather of all periods showed some signs of decay, the deterioration
becomes more general on books bound after 1830, while some leathers seem
to be generally good until about 1860, after which date nearly all
leathers seem to get worse. The deterioration of calf bindings at the
latter end of the nineteenth century may be attributed as much to the
excessive thinness as to the poor quality of the material.

“With regard to the conditions under which books are kept, ventilation,
lighting, heating, etc., the Committee were satisfied that in libraries
where there was no artificial light used, and where the ventilation was
good, the bindings were generally in a better state than elsewhere. Where
gas is used the bindings are in the worst state noticed, especially on the
higher shelves.... Daylight and still more direct sunlight, has a
disintegrating effect on leather....

“As to the suitability of various leathers, the Sub-Committee came to the
conclusion that of the old leathers (fifteenth and sixteenth century),
white pigskin, probably alum tanned, is the most durable, but its
excessive hardness and want of flexibility renders this leather unsuitable
for most modern work. Old brown calf has lasted fairly well, but loses its
flexibility, and becomes stiff and brittle when exposed to light and air.
Some of the white tawed skins of the fifteenth and sixteenth century,
other than white pigskin, and probably deerskin, have lasted very well.
Some fifteenth and sixteenth century sheepskin bindings have remained soft
and flexible, but the surface is soft and usually much damaged by
friction. Vellum seems to have lasted fairly well, but is easily
influenced by atmospheric changes, and is much affected by light. Early
specimens of red morocco from the sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth
century were found in good condition, and of all the leathers noticed,
this seems to be the least affected by the various conditions to which it
had been subjected. In the opinion of the Committee, most of this leather
has been tanned with sumach or some closely allied tanning material.
Morocco bindings earlier than 1860 were generally found to be in fairly
good condition, but morocco after that date seems to be much less
reliable, and in many cases has become utterly rotten. During the latter
part of the eighteenth century it became customary to pare down calf until
it was as thin as paper. Since about 1830 hardly any really sound calf
seems to have been used, as, whether thick or thin, it appears generally
to have perished. Sheepskin bindings of the early part of the century are
many of them still in good condition. Since about 1860 sheepskin as
sheepskin is hardly to be found. Sheepskins are grained in imitation of
other leathers and these imitation-grained leathers are generally found to
be in a worse condition than any of the other bindings, except, perhaps,
some of the very thin calf skin. Undyed modern pigskin seems to last well,
but some coloured pigskin bindings had entirely perished. Modern leathers
dyed with the aid of sulphuric acid are all to be condemned. In nearly
every case Russia leather was found to have become rotten, at least in
bindings of the last fifty years....

“The work of the second Sub-Committee, which was composed of chemists
specially conversant with the treatment of leather, was directed specially
to the elucidation of the following points; an investigation of the nature
of the decay of leather used for bookbinding; an examination of the causes
which produced this decay; a research into the best methods of preparing
leather for bookbinding; and a consideration of the points required to be
dealt with in the preservation of books....

“The Sub-Committee made a number of tests and analyses of samples of
decayed leather bookbindings, as well as of leathers used for binding. The
Committee found that the most prevalent decay was what they termed a red
decay, and this they think may be differentiated into old and new, the old
red decay being noticeable up to about 1830, and the new decay since that
date. In the old decay the leather becomes hard and brittle, the surface
not being easily abraded by friction. The older form is specially noticed
in calf-bound books, tanned presumably with oak bark. The new form affects
nearly all leathers, and, in extreme cases, seems absolutely to destroy
the fibres. Another form of deterioration, more noticeable in the newer
books, renders the grain of the leather liable to peel off when exposed to
the slightest friction. This is the most common form of decay noted in the
most recent leathers. In nearly all samples of Russia leather, a very
violent form of red decay was noticed. In many cases the leather was found
to be absolutely rotten in all parts exposed to light and air....

“An extensive series of experiments was carried out with a view of
determining the causes of the decay of bindings. The Sub-Committee find
that this is caused by both mechanical and by chemical influences. Of the
latter some are due to the mistakes of the leather manufacturer and the
bookbinder, others to the want of ventilation, and to improper heating and
lighting of libraries. In some cases inferior leathers are finished (by
methods in themselves injurious) so as to imitate the better class
leathers, and of course, where these are used, durability cannot be
expected. But in the main, the injury for which the manufacturer and the
bookbinder are responsible must be attributed rather to ignorance of the
effect of the means employed to give the leather the outward qualities
required for binding, than to the intentional production of an inferior
article....

       *       *       *       *       *

“We are of opinion that no special skin can be condemned in its original
condition, although goat, seal, pig, and calf are probably superior in
strength of texture to sheep. Sheepskins are, however, equally resistant
to chemical agencies, and being naturally soft and flexible, are extremely
suitable for use for purposes where they are not much exposed to
mechanical wear.

“Fresh market skins, dry skins, or wet salted skins are much to be
preferred to those known as ‘drysalted,’ since the crystallization of the
salt which takes place in the drysalting process, tends to weaken the
structural fibre of the pelt. No tainted or putrefied skins, even if only
slightly affected, are suitable for the manufacture of bookbinding
leather, both for the same reason, and because the weakness of grain so
produced leads to uneven dyeing.

“In the soaking of skins we would strongly condemn the use of old putrid
soaks, or the addition of salt to the soaks to assist in the softening, as
both methods weaken the skin. ... Violent mechanical treatment such as
‘stocking’ is injurious....

“The liming should be done in mellow, weak limes. Old limes smelling
strongly of ammonia, and containing large quantities of bacteriological
products, must be avoided....

“Special care should be taken with regard to the beamhouse work after
unhairing and fleshing, as, by excessive or unsound puering and drenching
of the skins, their whole natural strength is frequently destroyed....
Great damage is frequently caused by the use of foul puers or foul bates,
in which putrefaction has taken place.

“Pure sumach is the tannage we would most strongly recommend for high
class bookbinding....

“The tannage of bookbinding leathers must be a mellow one, and must not be
carried too far, as we have found in many cases the cause of decay in
tanned leather has been the fact that the leather was overloaded with
tannin. Tanning has throughout a hardening effect on the leather fibre,
which, if pushed too far, ends in brittleness and loss of tenacity....

“We must absolutely condemn the use of any but mild vegetable acids in
souring or scouring the leather, or in the dye bath, and as far as
possible would avoid the use of acids and alkalis on tanned leather, both
being equally injurious.

“It has been shown by careful experiment, that even a minute quantity of
sulphuric acid used in the dye bath to liberate the colour, is at once
absorbed by the leather, and that no amount of subsequent washing will
remove it. In a very large proportion of cases, the decay of modern
sumach-tanned leather has been due to the sulphuric acid used in the dye
bath, and retained in the skin....

“We ... advise that the glazing of skins by friction in a damp ‘seasoned’
condition should be avoided.

“The use of nitric acid as a preparation for glazing is absolutely
destructive....

“The use of oxalic acid for washing backs of books, or of leather for
bookbinding, is fatal to their durability....

“The sprinkling of leather with ferrous sulphate (green vitriol), either
for the production of ‘sprinkled’ calf or ‘tree’ calf, must be most
strongly condemned, as the iron combines with and destroys the tan in the
leather, and free sulphuric acid is liberated which is still more
destructive....

“The stretching of leather tightly over books in a wet condition ...
should be strongly condemned....

“It is shown conclusively that the catechol tannins, which include turwar,
quebracho, hemlock and larch barks, and gambier, are unsuitable for
bookbinding leathers where durability is expected, and that sumach yields
a much more permanent leather, while myrobalans occupy an intermediate
place, but nearly approaching sumach. It is unfortunate that cassia bark,
which is the tanning material employed for East Indian sheep and goat
skins, should have proved so unreliable, since these leathers have been
largely used in bookbinding without suspicion, and are in other respects a
cheap and good article. With regard to sumach leathers themselves, it is
possible that some of the darkening noticed may be due to the presence of
adulterants, such as pistacia leaves, in the sumach used, as it is almost
impracticable to obtain absolutely pure sumach, and the pistacia tannin is
allied to that of the cassia.

“Of all the influences to which books are exposed in libraries, gas
fumes——no doubt because of the sulphuric and sulphurous acid which they
contain——are shown to be the most injurious, but light and especially
direct sunlight and hot air, are shown to possess deleterious influences
which had scarcely been suspected previously, and the importance of
moderate temperature and thorough ventilation of libraries cannot be too
much insisted on.”



                                 INDEX


  Absorbent leather: colouring, 69

  Acid
    : hydrochloric, 30, 66, 71
    : muriatic, 71
    : nitric, 71
    : oxalic, 71
    : picric, 66, 67, 68
    : sulphuric, 71

  Acids, 66
    as decolorants, 71
    : diluting, 71
    : effect of, on steel tools, 30
    : injurious effect of, on leather, 72

  Alberti: L. B., author of _De Pictura_, 87

  Albumen: colours based on, 67

  Alizarin, 66, 67

  Alkalis, 66

  Aniline dyes: stability of, 64

  Apparatus for pyrogravure, 36-37

  Archil, 66

  Arnotto, 66

  Aumaître: Mons. E., 38, 42, 52, 59


  Baryta: chromate of, 66

  Bed-furniture: leather, 84

  Belleville: Mons., author of _Le cuir dans la Décoration Moderne_, 62,
      71

  Bénard: Pierre, author, 84

  Bérain: leather decorated in style of, 84

  Blacks, 66

  Blues, 67, 74

  Bookbinding
    : carved leather, 14
    : choice of design for, 77
    : crushed morocco for, 17
    : first use of leather for, 14
    : gold-tooled leather, 14
    : mosaic leather, 14
    : pigskin in, 17-18
    : report of Committee on leather for, 90-95
    : vellum in, 18

  Boudaroy: Fougeroux de
    : remarks on leather hangings, 84-86
    : recipe for golden varnish, 86-87

  Bronzes, 35, 68, 73, 74, 78

  Browns, 65

  Brush
    : couch-grass, 70
    : flannel, for rubbing leather, 73
    for gold leaf, 74
    for powder colours, 74
    for sprinkling, 70
    for stencilling, 72
    for tree marbling, 70

  Buckthorn berries, 67

  Burgundy: leather decoration in, 14

  Burnishers, 63, 75


  Calf leather, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17
    : colouring, 69, 72
    for modelling, 29
    for mosaic, 43, 56
    : monochrome mosaic on, 45

  Canson paper, 45, 58

  Cape morocco, 17, 42, 78

  Cardboard
    for use in cutting out inlay, 48
    padding, 34

  Carpets: leather, 81

  Carthamine, 66

  Carthamus Tinctorius, 66

  Carton Jacquart, 45, 51

  Carved leather, 16, 27-28
    bookbinding, 14
    : choice of design for, 27
    : gold on, 27
    in Dijon Museum, 14, 27

  Carving
    : leather for, 17
    mosaic in relief, 61, 62
    : tools for, 27

  Cassaigre tannin, 16

  Catechol, 65

  Cathedral style, 27

  Chairs: leather, 84

  Chamois leather, 16
    : use and methods of decorating, 18

  Chestnut tannin, 16

  Chinese vermilion, 74

  Choice of design and colour, 76-79

  Choice of skins, 15-18

  Chromate of baryta, 66

  Chromate of zinc, 66

  Coal-tar, 66

  Cochineal, 66

  Coffers: leather, 77-79, 82
    : choice of design for, 78
    : mosaic for, 78
    : mounting leather for, 78
    : outlining design for, 78
    : padding relief for, 78
    : punched groundwork for, 78

  Colour
    : applying, to leather, 68-69
    : choice of design and, 76-79
    : combination of, 76-77
    : for groundwork, 68, 77
    : influence of light on, of leather, 16, 64
    : influence of tanning process on, of leather, 15-16, 64
    : introduction of, into decoration of leather hangings, 81

  Colouring
    absorbent leather, 69
    calf leather, 69, 72
    cut leather, 26-27
    hollows of cut and punched leather, 27, 35, 65, 68, 73-74, 78
    : leather for, 69
    leather for mosaic, 42, 69
    leather: methods of, 68-75
    modelled leather, 71-72
    monochrome mosaic on calf, 45
    morocco leather, 69
    mosaic in relief, 62
    oxhide, 69
    pigskin, 69
    sheepskin, 16
    split sheepskins, 69
    tinfoil to give it the appearance of being gilt, 89

  Colours
    based on albumen, 67
    based on glycerine, 67
    for leather work, 64-68
    for stencilling, 72
    : oil, 67, 83
    : powder, used with varnish, 73-74
    : spirit, 67
    : water, 67

  Composition of ornament, 77-79

  Copper nails: leather ornamented with, 84

  Copper-plate etching on leather, 39

  Cordouans, 80

  Cordwainer, 14

  Cork padding, 34

  Cotton cord padding, 34

  Couch-grass whisk, 70

  Cowhide, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17
    for mosaic in relief, 61

  Cuir bouilli, 28

  Cushion for gold leaf, 74

  Cut leather, 16, 25-27
    : colouring, 26-27
    : colouring hollows of, 27 68, 73-74
    : opening the outline of, 23, 25-26

  Cutting
    : leather for, 17
    stamped leather, 39

  Cutting out
    incrusted mosaic, 62-63
    inlay: cardboard for use in, 48
    inlay for mosaic, 46-49
    inlay for mosaic in relief, 61
    inlay for polychrome mosaic, 58-59
    open-work leather, 40

  Cutting-out knives, 40, 46-48


  Damping leather, 19-20

  Decolorants, 70-71, 76
    on modelled leather, 71-72
    : tracing design for, 71

  Design
    based on chestnut tree, 76
    based on sea subjects, 76
    : detached portions of leather in, 77
    : choice of, for bookbinding, 77
    : choice of, for carved leather, 27
    : choice of, for coffers, 77
    : choice of, for large surfaces, 79
    : choice of, for marbled leather, 77
    : choice of, for modelled leather, 77
    in leather hangings and furniture, 82-84
    : Japanese school of, 79
    : study of, 79

  Design and colour: choice of, 76-79

  Dijon Museum: examples of carved leather in, 14, 27

  Dollage de gants padding, 34

  Dyes, 64-74
    : aniline, stability of, 64
    : superposed, 65, 68, 76
    : uncertain effect of, on leather, 77
    : vegetable, stability of, 64


  Embossed leather, _see_ Modelled leather

  Encaustic: rubbing leather with, 65, 72-73

  England: manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 83, 85

  Engraved leather, _see_ Cut leather

  Europe: introduction of decorated leather into, 13, 14, 80


  Flanders: manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 83, 85

  France
    : introduction of gilt or silvered leather hangings into, 85
    : manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 85
    : popularity of leather hangings and furniture in, 84


  Garlande: Jehan de, author, 80

  Germany: leather decoration in, 14

  Ghadames: leather industry at, 80

  Gilding, 74-75, 80-81, 83, 86
    : bookbinders’ tools for, 75
    : decline of art, 84-86
    outline of incrusted mosaic, 63
    : process described by Theophilus, 80-81

  Gilt leather chairs, 84

  Gilt or silvered leather hangings and furniture, 84, 85-86

  Gilt panel for painting on, 87-88

  Gloves for protecting hands from dyes, 68

  Glycerine
    : colours based on, 67
    inks, 72

  Gobelin tapestries: leather hangings and furniture replaced by, 84

  Gold, 68, 83
    groundwork: origin of, 87
    leaf, 28, 74-75, 83
    leaf: brush for, 74
    leaf: cushion for, 74
    leaf first employed on leather hangings and furniture, 83
    leaf: knife for, 74
    : liquid, 75
    on carved and embossed leather, 27
    powder, 73, 74, 75
    : punches used on, 28, 75
    : shell, 28, 74, 75
    : want of moderation in the use of, 87

  Golden varnish
    : recipe for (Boudaroy), 86-87
    : recipe for (Theophilus), 88

  Gold-tooled leather bookbinding, 14

  Gold-tooling, 28, 74-75
    : powder for, 74

  Gouache, 35, 68, 73, 74, 78

  Grating: sprinkling, 70

  Greens, 66, 67, 74

  Greys, 65


  Hammered leather, 16, 28

  Hammering: leather for, 17

  Hematoxylin, 66

  Heraldic decoration on leather, 14, 83

  Holland: manufacture of leather hangings in, 85

  Hydrochloric acid, 30, 66, 71


  Incising, 20-24, 26
    for inserted mosaic, 60
    for modelled leather, 22, 30
    knives, 15, 20-24
    oxhide, 22
    slanting cut, 23, 24

  Indigo, 67

  Inks
    containing nitrate of silver, 72
    for stamping leather, 39
    for stencilling, 72
    : glycerine, 72

  Inlaid leather, _see_ Mosaic leather


  Japanese school of design, 79


  Kip-skins, 61

  Knives
    : cutting-out, 40, 46-48
    : gold, 74
    : incising, 15, 20-24
    : paring, 43
    : stencil-cutter’s, 46, 61


  Leather
    : absorbent quality of, 64-65
    bed-furniture, 84
    carpets, 81
    chairs, 84
    coffers, 77-79, 82
    decoration in Burgundy, 14
    decoration in dress, 13
    decoration in Germany, 14
    decoration in Spain, 13, 14, 80
    decoration in style of Bérain, 84
    decoration in the past, 13-14
    decoration in war-like equipment, 13
    decoration: introduction into Europe, 13, 14, 80
    : first use of, for bookbinding, 14
    hangings and furniture, 80-89
    : heraldic decoration on, 14, 83
    industry at Ghadames, 80
    : methods of working in, 16, 19-41
    : report of Committee on, for bookbinding, 90-95
    : Spanish, 84
    : varieties of, 16

  Light: influence of, on colour of leather, 16, 64

  Lignereux: Mons. de Saint André de, author of _Le Cuir d’Art français_,
      28

  Lithographic stone, 15, 44

  Logwood, 66

  Lyons: manufacture of gilt or silvered leather hangings at, 85


  Madder, 66

  Marble: slab of, 15, 44

  Marbled leather: choice of design for, 77

  Marbling, 69-70
    : tree, 70

  Metal block for stamping leather, 39

  Metal ornaments on leather hangings, 81

  Metallic salts, 66

  Mimosa tannin, 16

  Modelled leather, 16, 28-36
    : choice of design for, 77
    : colouring, 71-72
    : decolorants on, 71-72
    : incising for, 22, 30
    in hangings and furniture, 83
    : introduction into Venice, 14
    : opening the outline of, 26, 29, 32, 33-34
    : softening the outline of, 32-33
    with punched background, 16, 28, 34-36

  Modellers, 15, 29, 30, 38

  Modelling, 30-34
    : ball-shaped steel tool for, 31, 32
    : leather for, 17, 29, 61
    leather on plaster cast, 39-40
    mosaic in relief, 61
    reed decoration, 34
    : sandbag for, 32
    stamped leather, 39
    : tools for, 29-32
    : tracing design for, 32, 33
    : wax for, 33-34

  Mordants, 67

  Morocco leather, 16
    : Cape, 17, 42, 78
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17
    : colouring, 69
    : crushed, 17
    for mosaic, 42, 58, 59
    : grain of, 17
    groundwork: pasting inlay on, 59
    groundwork: polychrome mosaic on, 58-59
    groundwork: tool for sticking inlay on, 59, 60
    : paring, for inlay of polychrome mosaic, 58-59
    : tanning materials used for, 15

  Mosaic, 16, 42-63
    bookbinding, 14
    : calf leather for, 43, 56
    : colouring leather for, 42, 69
    : cutting out inlay for, 46-49
    for coffers, 78
    : incrusted, 62-63
    : incrusted, cutting out, 62-63
    : incrusted, gilding outline of, 63
    : incrusted, outlining, 63
    : incrusted, tracing design for, 62
    in relief, 61-62
    in relief: carving, 61, 62
    in relief: colouring, 62
    in relief: cowhide for, 61
    in relief: cutting out inlay for, 61
    in relief: depressing groundwork for inlay of, 61
    in relief: leather for, 61
    in relief: modelling, 61
    in relief: tracing design for, 61
    : inserted, 59-60
    : inserted, incising leather for, 60
    : inserted, outlining, 60
    : leather for groundwork of, 17, 42-43
    : leather for inlay of, 45
    : monochrome, on calf, 45
    : morocco leather as groundwork of, 42, 58, 59
    : mounting inlay on paper lining for, 45-46
    on modelled leather, 59
    on modelled leather: paring leather for, 59
    : outlining, 52-56
    : pasting inlay on groundwork for, 49-50, 59
    : paring leather for, 43-44
    : pincers for, 50
    : polishing, 56, 57
    : polychrome, 57-59
    : polychrome, cutting out inlay for, 58-59
    : polychrome, morocco leather as inlay for, 58
    : polychrome, on morocco groundwork, 58-59
    : polychrome, outlining, 59
    : polychrome, paring morocco leather for inlay of, 58-59
    : polychrome, split sheepskins for, 58
    : polychrome, stencil for marking out, 58
    : polychrome, tracing design for, 57-58
    : preparation of leather for groundwork of, 43-45
    : removing paper lining from inlay of, 52
    : roller for, 50, 51
    : setting in the inlay of, 50-52
    : tracing design for, 46

  Mosaics of piqué leather, 13

  Mosaïque par incrustation, _see_ Incrusted mosaic

  Muriatic acid, 71


  Nitrate of silver: inks containing, 72

  Nitric acid, 71


  Oak tannin, 15, 16

  Oil colours, 67, 83

  Openers, 15, 23, 25-26

  Opening the outline
    of cut leather, 23, 25-26
    of modelled leather, 26, 29, 32, 33-34

  Open-work leather, 16, 18, 40, 41
    : cutting out, 40
    : groundwork for, 18, 40, 41
    hangings, 40
    in relief, 40
    : plaited ornament on borders of, 40-41

  Or basané, 83, 84

  Outliners, 52-56

  Outlining
    design for coffers, 78
    incrusted mosaic, 63
    inserted mosaic, 60
    mosaic, 52-56
    polychrome mosaic, 59

  Outlining-wheels, 15, 35, 54, 56, 63

  Oxalic acid, 71

  Oxhide, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17
    : colouring, 69
    : incising, 22


  Padding relief, 34, 40
    for coffers, 78

  Panel: gilt, for painting on, 87-88

  Paring knives, 43

  Paring leather, 43-44
    for inlay of polychrome mosaic, 58-59
    for mosaic on modelled leather, 59

  Paste: recipe for, for mounting leather on wooden panels (Theophilus),
      82

  Patine, 30, 64, 67, 72

  Patines grasses, 67

  Pearl-ash, 65

  Pencils: 6H graphite, 15, 20

  Permanganate of potash, 65

  Pictures on leather, 82, 84

  Picric acid, 66, 67, 68

  Pied de biche, 30

  Pigskin, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17-18
    : colouring, 69
    : in bookbinding, 17-18

  Pincers for mosaic, 50

  Pinks, 66

  Piqué leather: mosaics of, 13

  Plaited ornament on borders of open-work leather, 40-41

  Plaster cast: modelling leather on, 39-40

  Plaster casts for stamping leather, 39

  Plaster padding, 40

  Pointogravure, 16, 38
    : tools for, 38

  Polishing iron, 56, 57

  Polishing mosaic, 56, 57

  Pompon, 72

  Portugal: manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 83

  Potash, 65, 66, 68, 69, 73, 77

  Potash-lye, 65

  Potassium, 65

  Powder colours,
    : brush for, 74
    used with varnish, 73-74

  Presses for stamping leather, 38, 39

  Pressing leather after pasting, 45

  Punched backgrounds, _see_ Punched groundwork

  Punched groundwork, 16, 28, 34-36
    for coffers, 78
    in leather hangings and furniture, 83
    : modelled leather with, 16, 28, 34-36

  Punched leather, 16, 28
    : colouring hollows of, 35, 65, 68, 73-74, 78

  Punches, 15, 28, 35, 78, 83
    : patterns produced with, 35
    used on gold, 28, 75

  Pyrogravure, 16, 27, 28, 36-37
    : apparatus for, 36-37
    : leather for, 17, 18
    : outlining incrusted mosaic by, 63


  Quercitron, 66


  Réaumur: Mons. de, 84, 86, 88

  Red wood: extracts of, 66

  Reds, 66

  Reed decoration, 34
    : padding for, 34
    : tool for working, 34

  Reserved ornament, 71-72
    : colour for groundwork of, 77

  Roller for mosaic, 50, 51

  Rubbing leather, 36, 65, 67, 72-74, 77
    : flannel brush for, 73
    with encaustic, 65, 72-73
    with varnish, 72-73
    with wax, 72-73

  Russia leather, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 17
    for modelling, 29


  Saffron, 66

  Salts
    : metallic, 66
    of tin, 66

  Sandbag for modelling, 32

  Scraper, 46

  Semis, 35

  Setting in the inlay of mosaic, 50-52

  Shaded groundwork, 42, 69

  Sheepskin, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 16, 17
    : colouring, 16

  Shell gold, 28, 74, 75

  Shell silver, 74

  Silver
    leaf, 86
    powder, 74
    : shell, 74
    : use of, on leather, 83

  Skins: choice of, 15-18

  Soda, 65

  Spain
    : leather decoration in, 13, 14, 80
    : manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 83, 85
    : introduction of leather hangings and furniture into, 80

  Spanish leather, 84

  Spirit colours, 67

  Split sheepskins
    : colouring, 69
    for inlaying, 45, 56
    for polychrome mosaic, 58

  Sprinkling, 70-71
    : brush for, 70
    : grating for, 70
    : preparation for reserving ornament during (Belleville), 71
    : tracing design for, 71
    : vaporiser for, 71

  Stamped leather, 16, 38-40
    chairs, 84
    : cutting, 39
    in hangings and furniture, 83, 84
    : introduction into Venice, 14
    : modelling, 39

  Stamping leather, 38-40
    : inks for, 39
    : presses for, 38, 39
    with copper-plate, 39
    with metal block, 39
    with plaster casts, 39
    with stencil, 38

  Stearine: plaster casts prepared with, 39

  Steel clamps for holding leather, 31

  Stencil-cutter’s knife, 46, 61

  Stencilling, 72
    : brush for, 72
    : inks for, 72
    : leather for, 18

  Stone: lithographic, 15, 44

  Study of design, 79

  Sulphate of iron, 65, 67, 68, 69, 76

  Sulphuric acid, 71

  Sumach tannin, 15

  Superposed dyes, 65, 68, 76


  Tanning materials, 15, 16

  Tanning process, 15
    : influence of, on colour of leather, 15-16, 64
    : leather prepared to receive dyes by the, 67

  Theophilus, author of _Diversarum Artium Schedula_
    : process of gilding described by, 80-81
    : recipe for colouring tinfoil to give it the appearance of being
        gilt, 89
    : recipe for golden varnish, 88
    : recipe for paste for mounting leather on wooden panels, 82

  Tools, 16
    : bookbinders’, for gilding, 75
    : effect of acids on steel, 30
    for carving, 27
    for modelling, 29-32
    for pointogravure, 38
    for pyrogravure, 36-37
    for sticking inlay on morocco groundwork, 59, 60
    for working reed decoration, 34

  Tracing design, 19-20
    for decolorants, 71
    for incrusted mosaic, 62
    for modelling, 32, 33
    for mosaic, 46
    for mosaic in relief, 61
    for polychrome mosaic, 57-58
    for sprinkling, 71
    on flesh side of leather, 32, 33

  Tracing-point, 15, 20

  Tree marbling, 70
    : brush for, 70

  Turmeric, 66


  Van Orley, painter, 83, 87-88

  Vaporiser for sprinkling, 71

  Varnish
    : recipe for golden (Boudaroy), 86-87
    : recipe for golden (Theophilus), 88
    : rubbing leather with, 72-73
    : use of, with powder colours, 73-74

  Vegetable dyes: stability of, 64

  Vellum, 16
    : characteristics and methods of decorating, 18
    in bookbinding, 18

  Venice
    : introduction of modelled and stamped leather into, 14
    : manufacture of leather hangings and furniture in, 83, 85

  Vermilion: Chinese, 74


  Water-colours, 67

  Wax
    for modelling, 33-34
    padding, 34
    : rubbing leather with, 72-73

  Wheels
    : outlining, 15, 35, 54, 56, 63
    : patterns produced with, 35


  Xanthin, 65


  Yellows, 66


  Zinc: chromate of, 66


    Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.

       *       *       *       *       *



                        TRANSCRIBER’S AMENDMENTS


Transcriber’s Note: Blank pages have been deleted. Some illustrations have
been moved and the corresponding entries in the lists of illustrations
updated. Footnotes have been moved to follow the referencing paragraph.
The publisher’s inadvertent omissions of important punctuation have been
corrected. Duplicative front matter has been removed.

The following list indicates any additional changes made. The page number
represents that of the original publication and applies in this etext
except for footnotes and illustrations since they may have been moved.

  Key: {}[]:

    Page          Change

      -  {_To face Page_}[_Page_]
     12  painted and gilt calf. _Le Roman de Tristan et {Iseul}[Iseut]._
     56  of wood covered with embossed leather, _cuir {bouill}[bouilli]_.
     83  of repeating ornament for figures and {landscopes}[landscapes].

       *       *       *       *       *





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