A Treatise on Calico Printing, Of Colour-Making, Of the Application of Colour in the Operation of Printing.

A Treatise on Calico Printing, VOL. I-II
Printed for C. O'Brien, Bookseller, Islington, and fold by Bew, Paternoster-row: Richardson, Royal Exchange: Murray, Fleet-Street: And the Booksellers of Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin, &c.
As every Colour-maker must grant that he cannot always ensure any particular piece to be so well executed, as that his mixtures shall have their proper effect; or that any two or more pieces shall be alike at the last stage, it must be allowed it is necessary to enquire into the causes; if on enquiry they are not clears there certainly is a probability of their originating in some circumstance that has pasted unnoticed, or been really thought not worth noticing; the business then is to endeavour to develope these causes; for a circumstance trifling in itself, or little obvious in its beginning, may lead insensibly to others, till a number being accumulated and combined, the consequences then are visible enough to make them a matter of importance: this therefore is one idea in taking up the of this part, and a few observations will accordingly be offered on several circumstances attending it: besides, as they are intimately connected with the operation of printing, of course they may not be unworthy a printer's consideration, especially as it may be added, that it includes the theory or principle of printing itself, which is, that according to the blow or impression given, the colour is received by the cloth, nnd the in tended effect, as far as printing is concerned, is or is not obtained, allowing for the state of the cloth, colour, sieves, &c. for it may be said, that if there be any need for striking any print or ground with the maul, why should not all be struck alike? but to this it is aware it may be re plied, that a line will give the colour easier than a solid, and, to view it rather philosophically, a solid may be considered as an assemblage of lines or points, therefore the small force needful to cause aline to furnish, must be increased or multiplied, to cause the body to furnish in proportion: but be this as it may, it seems to be among those circumstances that cause appearances not at all expected, and therefore whether the observations here made, have any weight or not, the principle on which they are raised, cannot to a thinking Colour-maker be totally unworthy his regard; for as before intimated, merely making colour is no great secret, nor is it treated as such (see note 48) the grand matter being in accommodating it to the cloth under all possible circumstances, and until he can do that with some certainty, he has something to learn.

(44) See note 8 in copper-work where this circumstance is illustrated.

(45) It is said, "in this case", because in others where two patterns differ very much in their appearance, it is very likely allowed for.

(46) It is not always that he even looks thus far, though if there be any weight in these suggestions, he ought to look at all the prints and grounds.

(47) Here might seem to many, that cloth being so thin, this is a matter of indifference, but when it is considered, that the astringent and colouring atoms are so small, that a great number piled on each other would bear no proportion to the the thickness of the cloth (something similar to the microscope discovering thoufands of animals in the breadth of an hair) it must then appear otherwise, and must accordingly be of some importance whether they are only on the superfices of it, within the body, or whether they are forced quite through; in the first case the tinge can be but weak, in the second it is likely to be more effective, but in the last the atoms must be too much dispersed for procuring that closely connected body or mass of colouring particles which is requisite.

(48) Some printers will, if they can, sometimes smuggle as it were, pieces without being stowed, in order to have them stiff, though at times very im proper so to do, as some calenders are not in very dry places, or the cloth itself may not be sufficiently dry when taken to the calendar.

(49) This renders dyeing but a simple operation compared to callico printing, as in the management of the preparation, it is only relative to the different kinds of articles to be dyed, as intimated in the beginning of this section; hence it may be said in Colour-makers language, that thicknings are more wanted than colouring articles. — See note 39.

(50) It has been mentioned to the credit of the first printing - house (in respect to the quantity of work done at it) in the vicinity of London, that the copper work is well attended; it is certain too that the same attention is bestowed on the printing, one of the Principals having been a Printer, and being able to command every convenience, it is of course the better for it; and Journeymen having a maxim (as mentioned in the section of printing) that a Printer only should overlook Printers, are perhaps more to be influenced by such a one; whether this is the case or not, certain it is, that much depends on the cleanliness of brushes, sieves and pans, especially when pale colours are used; indeed grounding should be done in a separate shop, and the apparatus of course be by itself.

A remark is here ventured on, which if narrowly looked into, will be found not very wide from truth; that according to the branch a principal may have been brought up to, or most engaged in, that branch will mostly engage his attention, and his aim for excellence will tend chiefly to it.

(51) It is repeated here (see note 33 in maddering) that white goods laying in a heap may receive an injury which may affect the printing; it there fore evinces the necessity of the processes antecedent to printing being carefully attended; but for these as well as every other process, to be done properly, is unhappily not in the power of all Printers; some will not have the conveniencies necessary, and some cannot have them, consequently when the means are obstructed, the execution must suffer. As to those who with such a complex business on their hands without either means or capacity, or who under she infatuated idea of being masters, have precipitated themselves into it with out proper support, they are really to be pitied, for when raising supplies become so pressing, that (as in the memorable failure of Mosney-House dwelt on in another place) the business in the operative part is but a secondary concern, any one may judge how consusedly it must be prosecuted or discreditably terminated.

Remarks like these may appear invidious, but if they cause any who are inclined to commence callico printers to reflect sufficiently on the nature of the business, the writer is not apprehensive of meeting with censure for such freedom, being certain that he has done a real service.

He likewise cannot here forbear giving a hint of advice to the Printer, and he will add, that it is of consequence to a Draper to attend to it; for unless a Printer can evince his capability of executing work properly, the Draper has a chance of losing, as it is presumed to be more acceptable to have goods returned well executed, than to have to lay damages at some compensation for bad work; besides, a. Draper should not only inform himself whether a printer can execute what he undertakes, but whether he can do it in proper time (chemical and general patterns are not here included.) A circumstance of this nature not being attended to, was the subversion (or at least forwarded it) of a considerable printing-ground at Old Ford (Lay and Adams) a few years back, the Principal having undertaken late in the Autumn, to execute for the Spring, a considerable number of very elaborate patterns; but though every nerve was strained, the effort was in vain, and as well as the Printer being overturned the Draper must have suffered.

What helped to raise the names of Newton and Kilburn to such distinction, was in their outset being forward with their worst, as well as excellent in general in the execution; and much was it regretted then, by the lovers of excellency, when the firm was dissolved; though the exertions and productions of each since that circumstance, have been still so respectable, that Callico-printing in England may be said to owe its revival and present credit, to their efforts; 2 or 3 other Printers are certainly entitled to commendation; but not standing sir forward in the articles of novelty and taste in design, N or brilliancy in execution, they are not particularly pointed to.

* Even in nearly the last process, that of whitening, printed goods, a careless Fieldman may render alt that has been done abortive, especially in strong sun-shiny weather attended with a drying wind, if goods are watered in patches, or suffer too long an interval between watering: the mischief will. be still more obviotrs, if pale colour work, such as laylock, blossom, or other pale blotch grounds are thus treated — See the article Grass Bleaching.

(52) Such as the different kinds and qualities of cloth, the proportions, lightnings, and thicknings of the colour requisite for each; the mixing, boiling, application, &c. of them, in respect to time, quantity, quality and materials: the customs of particular places, caprice of Principals, obstinacy or ignorance of those who have to use them, &c. &c.

(53) As illustrative of the above suggestions it may be observed, that works avowedly written for the benefit of Manufacturers or Artificers, often contain so much speculative and scientific matter, that such persons are rarely benefitted; as their ideas in general reaching little beyond practical concerns: this may be oweing to few Manufacturers or Artificers being writers, or having time to write, or perhaps from dreading the austerity of criticism; hence that employment rests more with writers by profession, and their discussions, as mere Theorists are more apt. to be philosophically amusive, than, operatively useful; even those great works, the French Encyclopediæ and Memoirs of the Academy, may be compluined of on this score (to say nothing of their high price preventing most Artificers from, purchasing them) the writer's not having been able to procure the necessary practical information, or if they procured it, they could not always explicitly and satisfactorily convey it to those who were most interested in it, to whom it would be most useful, or who were most likely to render it useful to the world in general.

(54) It is notorious that in many commissioned and other shops, the lowest chemical work, even with such colour as almost, literally speaking, would shake off, is warranted and ticketed as fast, and often called chintz; and as one consequence certainly is causing purchasers to be doubtful of all kinds of work, it would here unhesitatingly be shewn how to know at sight which is so, if it could be done perspicuously; as to saying that cheap ticketed work is suspicious, is what every one knows; and when little more is given, whether through necessity or choice, than what the cloth is worth, no one can reasonably complain; but very often a high price is required, and freely given in expectation of adequate work; In some cases it must be however allowed the imposition rests not with the Draper.
Proceeding now immediately to the subject, it is certain that in colour-making, the operator either does, or should, attend to certain proportions in mixing his drugs and other articles, according to the shades that are required, the quality of the cloth, and the articles used for sightning or thickning, which when done, he generally thinks himself sase; as having acted at least according to rule; or if he saw the pattern, according to the appearance of that; and if the colours were all worked by the same printer, and similarly managed in every particular, the effect might be as required; but that is often far from being the case, as for instance, among innumerable circumstances it might probably happen thus with a pattern that may have three reds and three purples; one printer may lave the brown red, another the pale reds, and another the purples, as they succeed each other in the application; now the printer with the brown red may deem it needful to give it two or three, smart blows with his maul, the next printer or grounder in putting in the other colours or shades deems it needful to hit the grounds but slightly, and perhaps the palest shade may go into another's hands, who may hardly hit it on the back at all; while the purples may be treated in a direct contrary manner; therefore here it must seem that the second red will not be impressed into the cloth like the first, nor the third like the second; consequently, the second will be a degree paler than required, and the third two degrees; but, on the contrary, the second purple will be a degree stronger than it ought to be, and the third two degrees, which will destroy the balance of shade, that ought to be preserved. (Nothing is said yet respecting the state of sieves, brushes, stowing, &c. as the bad state of either must aggravate the case.) Hence it must seem, that whatever pains the Colour-maker took to proportion his ingredients, and to adapt them to the cloth, or the fightning and thickning, the grounds have not been treated so as to produce the requisite degrees of shade. (44)

Or, The matter may be thus illustrated: The outlines of two patterns may be nearly alike, but probably one may have a greater quantity, and larger bodies of pale reds than the other; and the other may have a super proportion of the pale purple; or in one the shades, or other parts may be in small bodies, so that wood only will be sufficient to work it, and in the other there may be bodies that require hatting, though the patterns in appearance may be of one class; now in this case, (45) if the (colour-maker see the patterns only, (46) it is a chance if he makes any difference in his proportions according to these circumstances; for the flowers or other objects seeming to him to consist of three regular shades of colour, either as reds or purples, the proportions for one pattern may be deemed needful for the other; but when the grounds go to work, they may receive different treatments from each other; hence the shade of colour that will be but barely deep enough for the purple or red ground that has large bodies, and which accordingly will be strongly im pressed on the cloth, by several blows with the maul, must be too weak for the red or purple of the other, that may be just struck with the Printer's hand; or one ground, because of the shades or fine lines, may be worked in paste, while the other may be worked in gum; the consequence however will be, that though the two pieces have the outlines alike, yet the paler colours in the separate pieces must be different in respect to the requisite strength of them — as observed in note 8 of copper-work.

These observations may be brought still closer, as for instance. Two pieces are to be printed with the same colour, but with different prints; one print fine and the other coarse, or with solids in it; therefore very probably that with the solids will be more impressed in the cloth than the other, from its being deemed necessary to hit it more forcibly; hence though the colour for both pieces come the same from the colourhouse, the effect may be. different in the made of the colour: and in printing doppies it some times happens, that if a piece is not thoroughly dry, or if it be of a flimsy nature, the colour may be forced through, (47) while another more dry, or of a firmer texture, will resist that circumstance; therefore here again, though the same colour is used for both pieces, yet one will have a paler or more washy appearance than the other; and the most ignorant Printer knows, that if a shop be not kept warm, it is dangerous almost to work any colour; (see note 34) and that it is always best to finish a piece, though the colour may be used out of the same pan; a difserence may arise too from colour being old or fresh; and to all these may be added the chance of some part being performed with foul brushes or sieves, worked on hard blankets, or from coarse sieves, lying on very stiff gum or paste; or some pieces may be worked with the first colour without being drawn over the stove; or perhaps taken to the copper without being properly stowed; while other pieces are treated in a direct contrary manner. (48) — See again note 34.

It is likewise of some consideration, upon an optical principle (see rule 8 in putting-on, and 7 in cutting) whether pale colours are near to or enclosed with strong bodies of dark colour, for what may appear of one hue, standing by itself, or only near to, or enclosed with a fine line, will appear of another if otherwise circumstanced. — See likewise note 37 in copper work. but in respect to shade, it will not appear so dark when surrounded by a mass of dark colour, as when alone on a white ground, owing to the contrast.

These circumstances, and more that might be adduced, are, it is presumed, of consequence enough to engage a Colour-maker's attention, for though on the supposition that he has proportioned his ingredients, to the kind of cloth, the pattern, and the nature of the thickning, yet it must be evident that unless each colour or shade, is in its applications similarly managed, according to the proportions given, its effects in the end must be different in a greater or less degree from what was intended.

As to the Printer, he generally regulates his blows or pressure by the quantity or quality of colour, or whether his print or ground be hatted or not; but even here, some Printers dip and lay their prints so slowly, and hit so sluggishly, to what others do, that even this circumstance may aggravate the others, for there are some colours that dry very quickly; therefore (it is repeated) though one or two of the circumstances just mentioned may possibly be of little consequence, yet when all or mostly all are joined, it then must be allowed by every one to be of some weight; as for the share the Copperman has in this case, it depends on what manner the mixtures are imbibed by the cloth, supposing the preparation, &c. to have been properly executed, and the drugs, &c. proper;(49) for if, of a number of pieces boiled in the same copper, one colour comes up perfect, it is a proof he has done his part. — See note 8 in copper-work.

From what has been said, it seems that a Colour-maker should either be a Printer, or be able to put himself in a Printer's place, chiefly in respect to the printing apparatus being in order, and (as already said) likewise in the Gopperman's, particularly in the preparation, (50) so as to have the chief circumstances properly arranged, that may aid or attend the application of his mixtures; but at the same time it is granted, it must be an extraordinary attention indeed, thatcan nearly keep in view the almost infinite cases under which colour may be applied, to say nothing of having to combat with indolence, ignorance, carelessness, prejudice, or malevolenc; (51) and sometimes, though rarely, overzealousness.

To lay down a plan to regulate these applications, would probably be spurned at by old practitioners; as it is hardly probable any that could be specified would be reconcileable to anthen's requisite mode of practice. It may how ever, be suggested, that if a Colour-maker would arrange the different courses of operation} his colour has to go through,* in regard to the texture of the cloth, state of the prints and grounds blankets and sieves, thickning, pressure, &c. the operations might be reduced into some system beyond what is at present done, which is rarely mor? than proportioning the ingredients for fine or stout cloths, blotches, and fine prints and grounds; for certain it must be that according to the proportions or manner in which the iron liquor, allum, &c., is imbibed by the cloth, whether from the manner of their being mixed, or their treat ment in the printing shop, the colouring drugs can only impart their qualities towards giving the effect that is desired.

The writer however presuming that a Table something like the opposite, with the proportions annexed to the different circumstances under which colour may be conveyed, inserted according to each Practitioner's mode, would often be useful, he has therefore offered one; leaving the blanks to be filled up according to each Operator's discretion, or course of practice; or it may serve as a kind of model at least, for a better.

Adverting now to the inefficacy of written recipes for raising either permanent or fugitive colours (as observed note 43, and in two or three other places) it is here suggested, that the most explicit modes of displaying them will never form a Colour-maker, as so many practical circumstances occur, which there is no language to describe, and for which experience alone can provide (52) (see note 4 of copper-work) but exclusive of all this, as every Printer is supposed to know the common routine of colour-making, and many will say, they know as much as can be known (lee notes 4 and 10) it would be folly to attempt publishing recipes, unless every one excelled in some essential part, all that they or others knew; but where is the man who will pretend to display such? or even granting it were done, where is the Practitioner, who from motives of one kind or another, would allow it to be done, or stoop to adopt much of what might be displayed? hence, (as said note 16 in copper-work, and at the close of the same, section) it is more prudent, and perhaps more useful, and, as it might injure those who make a living by their possession of recipes, it must be more considerate in another sense, to speak generally, rather than specifically or positively ia practical matters; and in discussing the theoretical, part, recommend the study of it, or point to the means, rather than considently offer to exhibit them; for to those so disposed to enquire, practical knowledge will be obtained much more perfectly than ever it can be gathered from books of any kind whatever: even what the writer has attempted to display on the applications of colour by printing, is little more than mentioning such circumstances, and leaving others to form conclusions; for practice and experience, it is again said, must suggest the most efficacious means of rendering such observations, or any others that can be made, useful in any respect; hut this, it is apprehended, need not be further dwelt on here, as it is more than once intimated the flender efforts in this work, are with diffidence offered to induce certain practitioners to think, not arrogantly to direct any how to act. (53)

Respecting chemical colours; there is a great or plea for withholding recipes, for granting (only for a moment) they could be improved, so as to equal those brought up in madder, (and the field for discovery is very wide, and some are very sanguine in this case) yet there are considerations: that deserve notice, which weigh against the universal adoption of such a mode of printing, with all its boasted advantages; for when once operations were so known, as to be performed in a short time, with little trouble, and small expence, numbers of indigent or desperate adventurers would naturally rush into the business; and by their mutual underworking and underseling efforts, Callico-printing would soon lose its respectability; and (in the Draper's phrase) prints in general becoming vulgar, and within the reach of those who have but little to spare, other articles must be substituted more worth the notice of persons of fashion, or taste.

Besides, since most Drapers, by a certain criterion, know whether some kinds of work are fast or not, there is a necessity for Printers to keep up, at least, a line of respectable work; otherwise Drapers would naturally expect it executed for little, and then they among them selves, would contend (by practices too common already) for the greatest number of purchasers, till prints, considered in this light, likewise be come of little value; and it needs hardly be laid that with Drapers, retailers particularly, that work is deemed the best which brings returns the soonest, however small the profit.

It may be added, that by the adoption of an universal chymic mode, a national or commercial injury would be experienced; by many articles, now in use for procuring fast colours, being no longer wanted; which includes the ioss of employment thousands must sustain, whose living depends on the cultivating, manufacturing, and the conveying of such articles from place to place; but mechanical or other improvements necessarily supersede these considerations. Though after saying, thus much, it must be added,that, until every Printer thinks it no way discreditable to be deemed a chemick Printer, or every Draper cares as little about his share of repute in vending chemick work, peranent printing on the present establishment; must retain its staple value.

Pursuing this a little laterally, it niay be observed to chemick Colour-makers, who make a parade about this or that colour or shade, that, such matters rarely give a turn to a stile of work;, figures or shapes being more the essential parts, and a mere chemic stile of work performed on any material, every one knows, has but its day.

Thus in chemick printing, as far as the writer's' memory reaches, Arbuthnot made some stii with green stalks in light chintz, which soon flew, and no provision being made to supply the vacant parts (see the latter part of the section on pattern drawing,) the cloth then had a truly ludicrous appearance; the flowers seeming scattered here and there without stalks or any other appendage. Preston's chemical course on various materials, a few years afterwards, made some noise, but an idea prevailing, however unjustly, that it was by oil colours, and that the heat of a fire side would destroy them, that course soon dropped. Ilet's came next, but his stile as well as Preston's was very confined and shortly subsided: black and orange, or (as commonly called) gold colours and other coloured shawls, came next in Vogue; said to be Naylor's invention; other fancies, such as springeing or splashing, soufflee, &c. might be added; with the blue and buff lately much in request, and lastly the kersymere waistcoat shapes, but none, of these ever stood the proofs of a properly fast colour; as to the blue and gold, or black and orange, continued to this time, and even introduced into furniture, sand which as well as the black dove and yellow stile, from the ease and facility of its execution, drew many unto the business, that perhaps now wish they could elegibly quit it) as proving what has been just said, it has decreased from twelve-pence and more per yard for printing, down to three halfpence, or even five far things!!! (54) and probably black, dove and yellow would have experienced a face, something similar, but neatness and fulness were generally required, and refreshable, printers did a deal of the work.

In short, as these courses are little to the credit ot callico printing, it prompts a suggestion, that to restrain them within proper bounds, it would ultimately be of general service if some such regulations were established as are in France concerning Dyers; those who dye fast colours and those who do not, being deemed of distinct prosessions, and fast and sugitive colours confined to certain kinds of cloth. — See in the general reflections more to this purpose, as well as the means of improving Callico-printing.

End of the Session on Copper work. and Colourmaking.

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