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Tinsel And Foil Decorations
Enhanced Pictures

A poplar 19th century pastime was making tinsel pictures. This consisted of decorating pre-printed portraits of famous people, particularly royalty or actors and actresses. (These were the best subjects, mainly because they were most apt to be found wearing fancy clothes.) The basic technique was very simple.

The outline of the elements which were to be enhanced such as a hat or a cape, were traced on to another piece of paper, which then served as a pattern. The pattern was used to cut out pieces of sparkling metallic colored foil in silver, gold, bronze, ruby red, bright blue or emerald green. The foil pieces were then glued to the original picture.

Some very elaborate work was done in this way. Sometimes a plain cloak was decorated with as many as a hundred small pieces of foil, arranged to look like jewels lining the garment.

Another variation was to add pieces of fur or feathers, sequins, beads, lace, velvet and satin, or tassels in the appropriate places on a garment.

For those women who needed to keep up with the current trends, but weren’t too skillful at devising decorative ideas for themselves, there were ready-made kits available. The kits included foil cutouts already stamped by machine, along with some of the additional embellishments such as the beads and sequins mentioned above.

A variation of the tinsel picture was the “dressed print.” This involved decorating the fashion plates that appeared in the women’s magazines, such as those found in Godey’s Lady's Book. Pieces of fabric were cut out, arranged and then glued on top of the plate to give a third dimension to the plate. In this way, pleats, ruffles and padding could be added. Other trim such as lace and sequins were also added for adornment.

What none of the reference works seem to say is what in the world the women did with these pictures after they’d spruced them up!

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Captive Audience Helped Sale Of
French Porcelain

The Sevres porcelain manufactory was begun in 1738, during the reign of Louis XV of France. During this time, France was the acknowledged leader of fine arts among all the countries of Europe, and this new factory was given the responsibility of providing fine porcelain for this most sophisticated court of Europe.

Production actually began at Vincennes, but in 1756, it was moved to Sevres, a suburb southwest of Paris. Today the name of Sevres is given to all the company's work produced at either place; the earliest pieces made in Vincennes have a special value, and few pieces will be found outside of museums.

Although the company actually started in 1738, formed by two brothers who had worked at a porcelain factory in Chantilly, little happened until a syndicate was formed in 1745 for the purpose of making porcelain on a commercial scale. The organization was put on a business-like basis, backed by some of the leading financiers of France. (They were known as “farmers of the taxes.”)

The enterprise showed steady growth, but failed to become profitable. The king invested more and more capital into the concern, until by 1759, he became the sole proprietor. Louis XV became a very effective salesman of his porcelain, as did his successor, Louis XVI.

In fact, Louis XVI held a sale each year, right after Christmas, and he himself set the prices and did the selling. Although the prices were high, diplomacy dictated that the ladies and gentlemen of the court must do some purchasing, so sales were brisk.

The earliest products of Sevres were soft paste porcelain. Gilding and colored grounds were used on those projects in which Louis XV was especially interested. After the move to Sevres, Oriental motifs were used, as were the elaborate Rococo styles favored by the court. Madame de Pompadour was a special benefactor of the factory, and her favorite products were biscuit porcelain figurines.

In the 1770s, the company began making hard paste porcelain. Neo-classical designs supplanted the Rococo pieces of the preceding years.

The porcelain factory at Sevres continues to the present day. It has had its ups and downs, and varied its production with the times. Small perfume bottles and immense dinner services have been made; vases, urns, jeweled and enameled pieces, plaques and sculptures have all been produced over the years.

Colors, designs and styles have constantly changed, to meet the fashions of the day. For example, following a decline during the French Revolution, the factory grew in strength again while Napoleon was in power, featuring scenic ware that depicted his campaigns and victories. During another period, a limited but very important output of the factory were porcelain inlays made for furniture.

Except for some of the earliest Vincennes pieces, Sevres porcelain has been marked. Each of its periods of operation have made changes in the marks, however, so dating can be fairly accurately done. Many pieces also show the marks of the painters, gilders, sculptors and potters who worked on a piece.

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Reflector Oven Speeded Up Cooking Time

A new invention during the 1700s made the cooking of meat much easier for the housewife. This new appliance was the “tin kitchen” or roasting oven.

It was a reflector oven, shaped like a half-cylinder, that stood on four feet on one of the long sides. (Picture an oatmeal box, cut in half and lying on its side.) At the back, a small door could be opened to check on the process and to baste the meat. Juices were caught at the bottom and could be poured off through a spout at one end. A spit ran through the middle, with a crank to turn the meat, which would be fastened on with skewers.

These roasting ovens were a great improvement over open-fire roasting, because the reflected heat from the metal half-cylinder speeded up the cooking process considerably.

Tin roasting ovens came in many sizes, from about a foot in length to about four feet. The smaller ones were used for roasting small birds, such as pigeons or quail. Larger ones held huge roasts of venison or pork. There was also a modified version for roasting apples.

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