A Dictionary of Arts: Galls of Animals, or Ox-Gall

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


GALLS OF ANIMALS, or OX-GALL, purification of. Painters in water colours, scourers of clothes, and many others, employ ox-gall or bile; but when it is not purified, it is apt to do harm from the greenness of its own tint. It becomes therefore an important object to clarify it, and to make it limpid and transparent like water. The following process has been given for that purpose. Take the gall of newly killed oxen, and after having allowed it to settle for 12 or 15 hours in a basin, pour the supernatant liquor off the sediment into an evaporating dish of stone ware, and expose it to a boiling heat in a water bath, till it is somewhat thick. Then spread it upon a dish, and place it before a fire till it becomes nearly dry. In this state it may be kept for years in jelly pots covered with paper, without undergoing any alteration. When it is to be used, a piece of it of the size of a pea is to be dissolved in a table spoonful of water.

Another and probably a better mode of purifying ox-gall is the following. To a pint of the gall boiled and skimmed, add one ounce of fine alum in powder, and leave the mixture on the fire till the alum be dissolved. When cooled, pour into a bottle, which is to be loosely corked. Now take a like quantity of gall, also boiled and skimmed, add an ounce of common salt to it, and dissolve with heat; put it when cold into a bottle, which is likewise to be loosely corked. Either of these preparations may be kept for several years without their emitting a bad smell. After remaining three months, at a moderate temperature, they deposite a thick sediment, and become clearer, and fit for ordinary uses, but not for artists in water colours and miniatures, on account of their yellowish-green color. To obviate this inconvenience, each of the above liquors is to be decanted apart, after they have become perfectly settled, and the clear portion of both mixed together in equal parts. The yellow colouring matter still retained by the mixture coagulates immediately and precipitates, leaving the ox-gall perfectly purified and colorless. If wished to be still finer, it may be passed through filtering paper; but it becomes clearer with age, and never acquires a disagreeable smell, nor loses any of its good qualities.

Clarified ox-gall combines readily with colouring matters or pigments, and gives them solidity either by being mixed with or passed over them upon paper. It increases the brilliancy and the durability of ultramarine, carmine, green, and in general of all delicate colours, whilst it contributes to make them spread more evenly upon the paper, ivory, &c. When mixed with gum-arabic, it thickens the colours without communicating to them a disagreeable glistering appearance; it prevents the gum from cracking, and fixes the colours so well that others may be applied over them without degradation. Along with lamp black and gum, it forms a good imitation of China ink. When a coat of ox-gall is put upon drawings made with black lead or crayons, the lines can no longer be effaced, but may be painted over safely with a variety of colours previously mixed up with the same ox-gall.

Miniature painters find a great advantage in employing it; by passing it over ivory, it removes completely the unctuous matter from its surface; and when ground with the colours, it makes them spread with the greatest case, and renders them fast.

It serves also for transparencies. It is first passed over the varnished or oiled paper, and is allowed to dry. The colours mixed with the gall are then applied, and cannot afterwards be removed by any means.

It is adapted finally for taking out spots of grease and oil.

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