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The House   | October 1902

The Supplement: A Stencilled Frieze

This month some departure has been made from the line previously followed in the supplement presented with The House. Wood-carving or some other form of woodwork has almost invariably been chosen; but as a full-size working drawing for carving appears in another part of this issue, it was thought advisable to devote the supplement to work of a different kind.

A section of freize photographed from a finished example
image  section of freize photographed from a finished example

The claims of stencilling for amateurs have often been urged in these columns. For some reason its practice does not appear to be as extensive as that of woodwork. The difficulties are reduced to a minimum by the employment of a full-size working drawing like this supplement, and possibly a few words explaining its use, and showing how it may be carried out, may be of value.

In the first place, the design must be transferred to stout cartridge paper. The double lines will want to be carefully marked, and special attention is necessary to see that where the sections of the pattern are to join, the lines are exactly in their right places. When this is done there is the important matter of putting in what are called ties or tags. For the purpose of representing accurately the design, these have been omitted in the drawing, but where long apertures appear, little cross pieces must be left to hold the whole together. When these have been marked, a sharp knife will cut out the pattern, the paper being laid upon a sheet of glass. Care must be taken to keep the edges clean cut, as the effect very largely depends upon this. The next thing to do is to cover the sheet with a preparation called knotting, which may be obtained from the oilman. The ordinary varnish will, if necessary, do. The stencil plate is now complete, and the next thing to do is to take the length of frieze it is intended to decorate, and mark it out ready for the plate to be applied.

It is very advisable that the stencilling should be done on a long strip of paper, subsequently to be pasted to the wall, although the latter may have a surface quite suitable for the reception of the paint. The paint is much easier to manipulate on a table than up against the wall. The first thing to do with the roll of paper, is to mark it out into spaces the same length as the plate. The latter will then be tried along and small pinholes for registering purposes should be pricked at the corners. Small dots for the holes to cover may be made along the edges of the frieze, and in this way perfect accuracy o* register is ensured.

And now a word as to colouring. If a very large number of repeats were desired, the plate would have to be made in some thin metal and, in fact, three or four plates would be required—one for each colour. In the case, however, of a presumably small undertaking like the present one, a plate carefully used may do for all the colours. It would be advisable to try the plate on a piece of stouter paper, putting in the correct colours, and then have this model before the eye at the time of working, so that the colouring should be kept right. First of all, the sky above the horizon should be coloured a light yellow, this irrespective altogether of the stencil design. When this yellow is dry the plate should be laid over, and the sails of the ship be put in, in terra-cotta, the waves in green—the foam or broken crests will show, the original white of the frieze—and the hulls of the boats in brown, and the borders above and below in peacock-blue, with a lighter tint of the same shade for the shells.

detailed close-up view of sailing frieze
image  detailed close-up view of sailing frieze

The colour should be put on with a very stubby brush and dry. Readers often write asking what particular form of colour to use. The reply is that the best possible ones are sold in cakes and can be used very dry, but there is no real reason why any pigment should not be prepared in a form suitable for this work. Anything like painting is quite out of the question, the way to work being what may be called dobbing.

A great deal of variety may be introduced into the plates by the omission in some of the repeats of the ship in the foreground. This may be repeated every alternate time or as the worker thinks fit. In this case, of course, the lines of the waves will want continuing, which may be done by hand afterwards. In fact, as much touching up as is required may subsequently be resorted to, the stencil plate merely being used as a guide.

A frieze like this with a light blue filling would look extremely pretty, or, on the other hand, it might be used as a border for the bottom of a valance, or as a hanging for a yacht it would be at its best.

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