Xylography, or Printing and Graining for the Natural Surface of the Wood.

Scientific American 14, 3.4.1869

A new method for graining has been recently patented in England, applicable to transferring impressions from wood to plain deal, or to painted surfaces, either flat or molded, in buildings of all descriptions, where an accurate transcript of the more costly wood is desired, and for house and bedroom furniture generally; for japanned goods, made in metal or papier maché; for enamelet parqueterie tiles, and for articles in earthenware, such as garden seats, oyster and flower tubs, spirit casks, flower pots, tea-urn stands, etc.; for enameled slate, for paper hangings, and for oil cloths.

The invertor thus describes the process. Select a piece of wood of fine quality, about five feet long, twelve inches wide, and one-fourth inch thick; it is, to use the technical phrase, cleaned up by the cabinet maker on both sides, and is well sand-papered down. By having both sides of the board cleaned up, two patterns are obtained from the same board. A chemical preparation is then applied to it, which has the effect of opening the pores of the wood, and, at the same time, of hardening the surface, and, when the board is thoroughly dry, it is ready for use, and is, in fact, a wood plate, "not graven by art or man's device," but by the great Designer and Architect of the universe, whose works, the most stupendous as well as the most minute, are all perfect. The material used for taking the impression is prepared in oil, and is specially adapted for the purposes of transferring. The paper, too, manufactured for the purpose, is very thin but tough, so that it can be successfully applied to any irregular or molded surfaces, and it is sized to prevent the color from becoming incorporated with the body of the paper. A small wood roller is used for spreading the color on the board, and a large, broad, flexible palette knife is used for taking the superfluous color off. That being done, the sized paper is placed on the board, and both are passed through a small machine having turned iron cylinders, the upper one being covered with double-milled flannel; the paper is then taken off the board, its printed surface is applied to the article to be decorated, the back of the impression is lightly rubbed with a piece of soft flannel, the paper is removed, and an exact fac simile of the board, from which the impression is taken, is given. But that is not all, for a second and a third transfer are frequently obtained from the same piece of paper, and sometimes a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth. This is one of the remarkable features of the process, and, as you will not fail to perceive, must have a very marked influence on the rapidity of its application, and consequently, on its cheapness. With the color properly prepared, and adapted for its purpose, the plate does not clog or become foul any more than does the plate of the copper and steel-plate printer; but such a result would occur in both cases if the material used was not suitable for its purpose. When a board has been used it is treated as all other plates are, a cheap material is used for dissolving the printing color, a handful of fine sawdust is then rubbed over it, which most effectually draws out of the pores of the wood the dissolved color, and leaves the board clean, and ready for further use when required. Under the same conditions, provided no accident happens to it, the board will be far more durable than either the copper or steel plate.

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