Billeder på siden

names become known everywhere." We freely give the highest prices paid in this generation for beautiful pottery, and no people are so willing to pay for artistic decoration. We have the clays, the silicas, and other ingredients best fitted for the work. Our invention is proverbial, and has been displayed in all the virtues of purely useful art in every exposition where we have exhibited. Why, then, should we remain at the lowest stage, where finish and design are concerned?

The principal centers of this manufacture in the United States are Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Greenpoint, but perhaps the finest pottery is made at Trenton. Here, I believe, machinery was first extensively applied in the history of the art, or at least more extensively than elsewhere. The famous potter's wheel is now a piece of mechanism, and the clay is mixed into a close, fine, even-grained consistency by processes purely mechanical. The heavy work is done by machinery.

The workmen, no doubt, do their work exceedingly well, and many of them have become experts in all that appertains to the difficult and complex character of their trade.

In the spring of 1879 a strike occurred among the potters at Trenton, and a correspondent, in describing the effect upon the business, mentions that new hands were pretty generally employed. His observations are so appropriate to our subject that I venture to transcribe a portion of them. He writes that

Many of those who are now in Mr. Davis' employ have received instructions in the highest branches of scholarship, some having even passed through a collegiate course, and, as educated men have more reason and quick

er conception of the way to do things properly, these Americans will make the best workmen. A word here might not be amiss. Why do not more American young men turn their attention to this new branch of industry? There is as good a field open for them in it as there ever was in "going West." Their education fits them to learn it thoroughly, and when they have done this, by the exercise of a little economy while being taught the business, and saving up a small capital, they can start out as manufacturers themselves. The best English potters of to-day have raised themselves from the bench to their present positions. What has been done can be done again. Now, most of the men employed in this line are foreigners; why should not Americans take advantage of this opportunity of learning a good business, and being paid better wages for learning than they can earn by labor in any ordinary vocation?

Mr. Davis is a native of England; he came to the United States some years ago, and commenced the business of which he is now the sole and responsible master.

Without a theoretical knowledge of their trade our workmen are but imitators. Every potter should be a draughtsman, so that he could not only do the work with his own hands, but design it in his imagination. Drawing is but the representation of the object, or the embodiment in concrete form of that which is first created in the mind, and, if understood, the soul of the artist enters into his work. The time will come when no one will be reputed a good workman who cannot design as well as execute. Whoever is trained in a knowledge of the principles of his handicraft may become not merely a workman, but a high artist. The man who can draw and model will show the value of his acquired knowledge by giving elegance of form, grace of outline, and beauty

of ornament to whatever he produces; and every effort will inspire him with motives to higher and better work. As he addresses the public eye with picturesque illustrations of his own taste, new sources of infinite enjoyment will be open to him; and his serviceable attainment will glide into beautiful visions of his own feelings and enthusiasm upon the various substances which the repertories of nature have spontaneously submitted to human industry.

The value of drawing as a study is also realized as a charming accomplishment, when the pupil can give a fine delineation of a tree, a flower, a statue, or a building, which may have excited his fancy; while the care he bestows upon a graceful design teaches his mind how to think, enlarges the scope of his imagination, and breathes the sentiment of his peculiar idea into the subject he has chosen for his pencil.

Without attempting to give all the illustrations of this character, let us select one more example which is furnished by the process of applying colored patterns to cotton and woolen fabrics. It was not until about the beginning of the eighteenth century that calico-printing was practiced in modern Europe. The designs were first carved on wooden blocks in relief, and then laboriously printed by hand. These were superseded by copper, upon which the most delicate lines of the designer could be traced, and impressed like an engraving upon the cloth. Then came roller-printing, by which each color was printed on the cloth as it lay stretched on a board, and the colors were laid on one after the other by the labor of men and women, very much, it may be supposed, as the colored lithographs or chromos of the present day. These im

provements in the machinery, by which so much labor has been saved, have been accompanied by discoveries in the production of brilliant colors, by inventions that engrave automatically the most intricate designs, and by constant appeals to the draughtsman for the most beautiful combinations in pattern-figures to print upon textile fabrics.

The science of chemistry has achieved one of its greatest triumphs in this art, nor has this been the result of chance, but has come from experimental essays and an inductive application of recognized principles of greater or less generality. And while perhaps in no domestic art has machinery so much abridged the process of production, and secured so great a degree of economy in labor. and expenditure, it is equally to be admitted that the dyer or calico-printer ought not only to understand the infusion of dye-stuffs and the chemical reaction of colors, but also the harmony of beautiful colors and how to display and contrast them. He ought also to have taste in patterns, and judgment in applying them in the most effective manner to the textile fabrics he is to beautify. This he can discover by the accurate rules of drawing and the general principles of design. A vague impression of beauty, which is not decided by any fixed principle, is generally without any aim, and seldom grasps the probabilities of a design. A class of men have now come who are not only practically educated in this industry, but to whom the lessons of designing have yielded the grand secrets for which modern industry must ever be grateful.

Take notice also how anxious we are to surround our every-day life with what is pleasant and agreeable; hence the cabinet-maker is equally indebted to the aid of practical designs in drawing, in order to furnish our homes,

and make them comfortable and attractive. By this means he carves his wood, and veneers his mahogany, and puts together the most elaborate as well as the simplest pieces of furniture, and decorates them with beautiful fringes, tassels, and fixtures, until they exhibit every variety of form and color. The jeweler, the engraver, the engineer, the naturalist, and the mathematician, can not hope to meet with much success when ignorant of the rudiments of this art. Beauty of form will give a practical value to the product of every trade. An ugly pattern is salable in no market. If any one desires to know how beauty and form and color of surface are preferred to the same class of articles not so embellished, he can inform himself in the store of any merchant who consults the tastes of his customers, and keeps a sharp lookout for the prevailing demands of trade.

In a word, drawing is the most practical of all arts. It stamps its beautiful lines on every article. Its teaching should not be a specialty any more than writing. The whole community should be equally educated in its principles, for it would imbue the whole people with elevating and refining influences in the highest sense of our


Most of mankind go through life seeing comparatively little of what is so beautiful in the world; and we lose much of the enjoyment and pleasure that ought to charm our vision. To the cultivated eye all nature is ornamental, and beauty is seen everywhere. Even the atoms, that are invisible from their minuteness, are charmingly decorated when revealed under the lens of a microscope, and are capable of conveying intelligence from eye to eye and from mind to mind, when trained to a knowl

« ForrigeFortsæt »