JAIC 1981, Volume 20, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 58 to 65)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1981, Volume 20, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 58 to 65)


Catherine Lynn

1 Of the Colours proper to be used for Paper Hangings

THE COLOURS PROPER to be used for the painting or colouring the paper hangings, are all the kinds that can be used in water and varnish; but, for common designs done with water only, the following are most proper.

For red, lake, vermilion, rose pink, and red ochre. For blue, Prussian blue, verditer, and indigo. For yellow, the yellow berry wash, Dutch pink, and yellow ochre. For green, verdigrise, or a mixture of the blue colours with the yellow colours, particularly with yellow berry wash. For orange, vermilion, or red lead, with Dutch pink. For purple, a wash made of logwood, or a mixture of the lake, or rose pink, with deep coloured Prussian blue, or with indigo. For black, ivory black, and in some nicer cases, lamp black. For white, whiting; and for the heightenings, white lead.

Where great brightness is required, the lake should be used for the crimson red, and Prussian blue for the blue, but, for many purposes, rose pink used alone for the crimson red, and indigo mixt with whiting for the blue, will answer the purpose with greatly less expense.

The lake, rose pink, Prussian blue, and Dutch pink, intended for this use, should be had, of those who make them, in a moist state, before they have become more dry than to be of the consistence of paste. There is a double advantage in this, that they save the trouble of levigation; and, mixing much more kindly with the vehicle than when they are dry, and to be ground afresh, they both spread much farther on the work, and, lying more even, appear to be brighter.

The yellow berry wash employed for this use may be prepared by boiling a pound of the French berries with half an ounce of alum in a gallon of water, for an hour, in a pewter vessel, and then filtering off the fluid from the dregs through a flannel or bag, or through paper for nicer uses; returing afterwards the filtered tincture into the pewter boiler, and evaporating away part of the fluid till the remainder become of the strength required, which may be tried by spreading it with a pencil on common paper. When this is used for grounds, no farther mixture is necessary. But when it is used for painting, this tincture or wash should be rendered thicker by the addition of half an ounce of gum Senegal or Arabic to a quart or more of the fluid, if found necessary. This wash thus prepared is extremely useful and cheap, and is indeed almost the only yellow used for common purposes, either for grounds or paintings.

The logwood wash may be made by boiling a pound of logwood in two gallons of water, till one half the fluid be washed away, and then straining it through a flannel bag, while of a boiling heat, adding to it afterwards about a dram or tea-spoonful of pearl ashes, and evaporating so much of the remaining fluid as may render it of proper strength of colour.

When this purple is desired to be redder, half a pound of Brasil wood, or of Campeachy (called Peachy) wood, may be added, and the quality of pearl ashes diminished to a one-fourth of a tea-spoonful. The gum Arabic must also be added, as to the yellow berry wash, where it is necessary. This is not, however, of so much importance as the yellow wash; for the stain not being either very strong or bright, it does not produce a very great effect, as it is laid on the white ground, and is itself transparent.

Where hangings of more delicate designs and greater value are to be painted, particularly those in imitation of the India paper, carmine may be occasionally used. But it must be laid on with the pencil, and employed sparingly, otherwise it would too much enhance the expence.

The colours used in varnish may be the same as those used with water; but such as are above directed to be had to the makers in a moist state, must for this purpose be had dry. Verdigrise, and, for nicer purposes, the crystals of verdigrise, (commonly called distilled verdigrise) are with advantage used in varnish, though not proper to be commixt with water. A tincture of tumeric in spirit of wine gives a very good yellow, for using along with the other colours, in varnish; but it must be used only on varnished grounds, as it will otherwise spread itself out of all bounds, and even run through the paper.

Copyright 1981 American Institute of Historic and Artistic Works