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The House   | October 1902

Illustrated Answers by Penelope for arts, crafts, sketches, modelling

Last month, Penelope's Illustrated Correspondence looked into the difficulty of arranging beautful furniture in difficult corners of the house. The illustration from September are worth taking another look at. My favourite illustraion has to be the fireplace illustration. This month's regular section looks at more general home lifestyle concerns that plagued the Victorian household.

Illustrated correspondence to Penelope

The Servant Problem—A Tasmanian View

To the Editor of The House.
Dear Sir,

The servant, or labour question generally, is quite as serious in all our states as in England, and, so far, the only way out of the difficulty lies in the employment of lady helps. But we are finding that the real cause of all the trouble lies with the architects. They do not trouble to devise houses which will make the daily service as light as possible.

I see no remedy but in building houses better adapted to the existing state of things, with electric lighting and healing and cooking, fewer steps and stiffs, less unnecessary ornamentation, and, in short, something of the beautiful simplicity and cleanliness of the Japanese houses. You may object that this would be expensive, but servants, as they are, are far more expensive. With suitable houses it would be far more possible to dispense with servants living in the house.

With electricity in the kitchen and aluminium cooking utensils the labour of cooking is deprived of all its dirt, and is made light and pleasant. Then why should not a house have rounded corners everywhere instead of the angles which are so difficult to keep clean? Our present rooms are too high, whereas windows going quite up to the ceiling of a room nine feet high would give better ventilation than the present method. It seems to me that architects should study ship architecture more, so as to give the maximum amount of accommodation and comfort in the smallest space.


Modern Editor's reply

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments about linking architecture and home maintenance requirements. This has certainly proved to be the case. Your comments about the power of electricity really hit the nail on the head. The convenience of modern electrical appliances has dramatically changed our home lives. Unfortunately, there may have been an unintended consequence of electricty and that was to contribute, however minor, to the loss of the arts and crafts movement. It is this loss that I restarted this vintage magazine release.

Readers may be interested to find out more about the battle to be the original claimant for the invention of the electric light bulb.

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When found, make a note of…

Some time ago we had the pleasure of illustrating some work executed by Mr. Osmond, which gained an award at the Carpenters’ Exhibition in London. Those who recognised the talent exhibited in that piece of work will not be surprised to hear that Mr. Osmond has decided to employ his skill in what we may term a more ambitious direction. He has recently carved in boxwood some very successful busts. f hey are about eighteen inches high. Busts of such popular heroes as Lord Kitchener and General Baden-Powell have been attempted with success by Mr. Osmond, and very readily appreciated by his clients.

Mr. Osmond's address is 2 James Street, City Road, E.C. London.

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"Patria"— Perhaps the little sketch accompanying will be of some assistance to you for the cover of your Tennyson. The embroidery is not difficult, and I think as much effect as possible is achieved with a minimum expenditure of labour. I think you will find the proportions of the cover are right.

Tennyson embroidered book cover, circa 1902
illustration   Tennyson embroidered book cover

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"C.A.W." (Kirkby Lonsdale).—I think the teapot board in the present issue might help you. It is quite a simple piece of wood carving, and I should think if you had the assistance of anyone who is at all familiar with carving, he could set some of the boys to work on it. There is a little metal design given in this number that is also easy, and quite possible for the boys. I do not know whether they are good at making toys, but if so, you might set them to work on tiny copies of the rocking-horse design given in the September number of this journal. This rocking horse design has proven to be particularly popular. I will give your request further attention.

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"Crab"— If you do not mind waiting till the next issue I will get you out a sketch. The photograph you sent me is quite clear, and gives me a good idea of what you have done and what your boys are able to do.

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"Bellerive" (Tasmania).— I was very much obliged to you for your interesting letter. The following are the answers to your questions:

  1. It is not necessary first to wash the linen or prepare it in any way before putting on the stain.
  2. The dyes need not be kept boiling while in use. It is only necessary to see that they are made with boiling water in the first instance.
  3. Certainly, the dyes may be mixed to produce different shades.
  4. About one-third of a teaspoonful will produce a tablespoonful of the liquid. It is not necessary to add salt or soda.
  5. It is not really safe to wash Broderie Peinte in the ordinary way.

Dry cleaning may be used, and the work may be most effectively furbished up by a wet sponge and an iron, applied at the back. I should have mentioned that Mr. Pringuer (whose address you will find in the advertisement pages) supplies the dyes ready mixed, also canvas, and all requisites for copper modelling and Broderie Peinte, of which work he makes a speciality. Thank you very much for your long letter, a portion of which you will find elsewhere.

Modern Editor's reply
There has been much interest in dye-making in recent times. Our Art of Staining & Dyeing Leather article will make an interesting read for the home arts and crafts-person.

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"Niobe."— Other coats of arms remain to be allotted, and it may chance that with further investigation the exact date and narrative of this historic work may be forthcoming, literally recovered from the internal evidence of the heraldic designs it contains.

How it arrived in the possession of the Lyon Sisters has never been satisfactorily settled, but once its original home has been traced, even this detail may be proved.

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"Eithyn."— The filling for copper modelling should be varied with circumstances. Where possible, wax is best, but if the plaster-of-Paris is carefully poured in, it acts well when not subjected to hard wear. You might try the pitch used by metal-workers. The recipe is given in the August number. For the copper pins, write to Mr. Pringuer (his address is among the advertisements). I make a rule not to reply by post, except in very special cases and hope this answer will be in time for you.

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"New reader"— I think the list I sent you is sufficient guide. The armchairs are particularly good, and you could not go to a better firm.

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Rules for submitting letters

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"F.A.U." (Chelmsford).—I am not sure if your letter has been acknowledged in this column. There will probably be some papers on the subject you mention in the near future.

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