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French Crystals


These are photographs colored with liquid water colors and mounted on
glass. For several years a process has been taught by which a
photograph is rendered transparent by the use of paraffine oil, etc.,
then mounted on glass, and colored from the back with oil paints. While
by this method a picture pleasing at the time could be produced, yet
unless the process was perfectly executed the oils would decompose and
the picture become yellow and spotted. The use of water colors entirely
overcomes these objections, as it is so simple that any one can employ
them perfectly, and as there are no oils used in their production they
cannot change or turn yellow.


Convex glasses on which to mount photographs,
Bottle of Florentine, Egyptian, Grecian or other compound for
mounting on glass,
Best French picture glass,
Some gummed paper,
A dish in which to soak photographs,
Some dark, thin, fancy paper,
Sheet of blotting paper.


Having secured a good photograph, rub a little pumice stone over it
with the finger, and then, if it is mounted, remove it from the card by
placing it in warm water and allowing it to soak for an hour or two, or
over night if necessary. After it is thus freed from the card lay it
face down on a piece of glass, and sponge off all the starch from the
back. Cut a piece of blotting paper the size of the picture and lay it
on a glass, wetting it with water applied with a sponge; then lay the
photograph, still wet, on the blotting paper, and, with a sponge,
remove all the surplus water from its surface. Now proceed to color it
according to the directions given in the preceding pages for coloring
photographs with transparent liquid water colors. In case you should
put on too much color, let the photograph soak a few moments in warm
water, when the surplus color will gradually come out, and you may then
recolor it. After it has been finished to your satisfaction, proceed to
mount it according to the directions next given.


The glass for mounting, whether flat or convex, should be the same size
as the picture. It should be dipped in water and permitted to drain
off, but do not dry it; pour a little of the compound on the side
against which the photograph is to be placed--the hollow side, if the
glass is convex--let it drain off and lay the picture face down upon
it. With the thumb and finger commence at the centre of the photograph,
smoothing it down close to the glass, forcing all the air bubbles out
to the edges, thus continuing until the picture is entirely smoothed
out, and at every point in actual contact with the glass. During this
process hold the glass at an angle, so that you can see if there are
any air bubbles or glistening places in it by examining its face
occasionally; and always let a little of the compound get on the back
of the photograph, as it allows the fingers to glide over it more
easily and lessens the chance of tearing it. Now take a second glass
the same size as the first, and having thoroughly cleaned it, fasten it
to the back of the other by small strips of gummed paper. Then place a
piece of card-board of the same size on the back of the two glasses and
fasten the three together also with small strips of gummed paper;
finally securing the whole firmly together by binding it with some
large strips, and your picture is ready to frame. In case you do not
care to frame it, cut out a piece of some dark fancy paper, a quarter
of an inch on each edge larger than the picture, and fasten it, dark
side out, on the back, allowing the quarter of an inch to lap over and
be pasted on the face, after which straighten the edges with a ruler
and sharp knife.


The principles that have been given in regard to finishing photographs
with lines, apply also to finishing with India ink--with the exception
that in the manipulation of the ink it must be remembered that it
cannot be taken out; therefore, you must commence to finish the
photograph gradually, and produce the proper strength by repeatedly
working over it. The old method of making India ink portraits was to
have a print on "plain" paper--a kind without albumen on its surface.
The great disadvantage of "plain" paper is that the lights and shadows
on it are not strong, and therefore it takes too much work to finish
the picture.

The following method (which is very simple and can be used in work on
albumen paper, provided you have treated it by rubbing pumice stone
over its surface with your fingers), adapts it to India ink. Of course
the pumice stone treatment destroys the albumen on the surface, causing
it to have a dull appearance, but after the picture has been finished
its lustre can be restored by the use of a not too warm burnisher.

In finishing the photograph commence on the hair by washing it all
over (with the exception of the highest light) with a weak solution of
the ink, using the brush in the same direction that the hair goes;
after this has dried, indicate the half-shadow with a little stronger
wash, and after drying it again put in the deeper shadows, then the
eyebrows, eyes and beard, if the subject has one.

Faces are finished in India ink on the line principle,[D] which shows
the grain of the flesh. Commence on the forehead with a very weak
solution, and then continue it all over the face, repeatedly working
and cross hatching with lines until the face is dark enough; then
strengthen the shadows under the eyes, nose, mouth and chin. After the
face is completed put in the clothes. This you do by washing them over
with two or three solutions of the ink, and then producing the line
effect as in work on crayon portraits, explained on page 76, the
difference in the nature of the material used being always borne in
mind. After the picture is otherwise completed, you can brighten up the
eyes and some of the strongest shadows with a solution of gum arabic
and water.

Next: Conclusion

Previous: The Principle

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