Page images
[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]


OW do they reproduce the it just as it grew that would be wonderplants, the tree leaves and fui indeed. But the way they actually wild-flowers with such mar- do it is still more wonderful. Every one velous exactitude ?

of those flowers; every leaf; the stalk, We look at them in the and its branches—is the work of man's museum cases in wonder. Here are the

hand! familiar fields brought to your eye just Think of the skill, the close observaas you recall them in life—myriads of tion of Nature, required to do this and grasses, dozens of daisies; every leaf, yet not make an obvious imitation ! every petal and stamen as perfect as if x And yet, the basis of the process is living. One usually dismisses conjecture simple enough. It is all done from life with the thought that, no doubt, they casts of the component parts. In the picked these things in the field, and pre- laboratory you will find large tables covserved or petrified them just as they were ered with boxes of various green shades by some mysterious process.

of the finest thin sheet wax, rolls of fine Here is the case of the duck hawk or oiled muslin de soie, and short lengths of peregrine falcon for instance. You may cotton-wrapped steel wire. The simplest recall it—a section of rock cliff nearly thing that the laboratory turns out is a fills the case and sets off, as it were, the leaf. Suppose that the group to be habitat of the falcon. In a cleft of the mounted requires for one of the “accesrock there is a tuft of grasses, and in sories" a branch of white oak. The first the midst of it grows a fairy-like colum- thing done is to secure representative bine in full blossom. How did they get specimens of white oak leaves of various it there?

ages, including buds. These are picked If they picked that delicate plant and from the tree and brought into the dipped it in a preservative that petrified laboratory.

The Curator's assistant takes model- with serrate edges the mould itself is ing clay from a stand and makes an trimmed away sharp from the edges with oblong dish of it slightly larger than a small gouge, so as to give a sharp, clear the oak leaf. This he fills with wet outline to the wax leaf. The face side plaster of Paris and lays the leaf face only is cast, as the oiled silk imitates the downward, stem and all, on the wet reverse of all leaves except a few requirplaster. It soon hardens and the leaf is ing treatment on the under side. stripped off, leaving a perfect impression The leaf is now complete, and any on the plaster.

quantity of them can be turned out from Now, a sheet of wax is selected, a single mould with great rapidity. If matching perfectly the color of the leaf, the underside is downy or fuzzy, fine and is pressed down into the form. One, chopped camel's hair is strewed on while two, or more strands of the covered wire it is hot and sticky. If the face of the are then laid down the midrib and veins leaf is glossy, a few drops of poppy oil of the leaf, and a piece of the oiled mus- produce the desired effect. If dull, tallin placed over it an kneaded down onto cum powder, of the proper shade of the wax sheet in the form. A gentle

A gentle color, is sprayed on. heat is next applied, which fuses the The colored leaves of autumn require whole together and makes the wax so a still further process. It would of course plastic that it takes the impressions of be hopeless to reproduce the endless every least vein and membrane of the shadings and coloring of Nature with leaf. The edges are trimmed with scis- anything so gross and coarse as a brush, sors and the axil of the stem moulded in so a process was invented to match Nawax to fit the form. In the case of leaves ture's.

[graphic][merged small]



Assuming that a silver maple leaf, of which the prevailing autumn color is yellow, is to be made, the leaf is first cast in the proper shade of yellow wax. Then it goes to the painting room, where the delicate mottlings and colorings of the real leaf are copied with marvelous fidelity by what is known as the air brush. This instrument is essentially an atomizer, connected by hose to a reservoir into which air is pumped by a small, hand


air pump

The cup of the atomizer is filled with the color to be used, and it is blown on in a fine spray. This spray can be modified from the veriest breath of color to heavy coarse stipplings, and the wonderful colorings of Nature are reproduced by it with absolute accuracy and great speed.

The colors used are the usual artists' tubes, diluted so as to make them atom

BRANCH OF SAFAL. USED IN ROOSEVELT ELK GROUP. ize freely. All the artist's old friends are there excepting that great mainstay, the fat tube tanks in the laboratory immediately on of cremnitz white.

arrival. In a few hours the warm water This cannot be used as a dilutent and restores the leaves and twigs to their general modifier because the leaf colors original freshness and casts can be taken. must be transparent or clear. The addi- The making of flowers requires more tion of white immediately turns the mix- skill, but the method is the same. The ture into what is technically known as flower is dissected and casts taken of the "mud.”. All the lakes are barred for petals of both calyx and corolla. The the reason that they are not permanent stamens are made from fine hairs dipped enough. Before a year passes, anything in wax and the knobs formed on the end colored with a lake is several shades off by hand. The parts are assembled, after the original hue. The madders are much coloring the petals, which are moulded used. Also cobalt blue, emerald green

in white wax. Such a flower as the wild and many of the anilines.

rose is one of the easiest to assemble in Before leaving the subject of leaves, spite of its numerous stamens. A pracanother question comes up. How about ticed hand can finish one in about twenty specimens picked on the Pacific Coast or minutes. elsewhere, when several weeks are re- The columbine, mentioned before in quired for shipment to the Museum? Of connection with the duck hawk group, course, succulent plants must be cast is one of the difficult flowers. The reader fresh on the spot, but the majority of will doubtless recall it as a dark-red, fivetrees and shrub branches may be ex- lobed flower like a miniature king's pressed east and put to soak in large crown, hung inverted by the center from poured around a stout steel wire. The leaf is made separately as described before and secured to the stem.

The preparation of tree and plant fruits presents a range of problems, varying in difficulty from the easily reproduced fruit of the pawpaw, to the well-nigh impossible catkin of the white willow. The laboratory is still wrestling with this latter, after many flat failures.

Beginning with the large, smooth fruit of the pawpaw—with which may also be classed the persimmon and wild plumthe first step is to beat out a flat ribbon of clay about an inch wide and mould it edgewise around the fruit, resembling the rings of Saturn. Thick plaster of Paris is poured over the fruit, the ring

acting as a stop, and followed up with a MARSHMALLOW MADE BY CLEVER HANDS. paste of the plaster, moulding it with the

hand as it sets. The clay is then peeled

off, and any fins of plaster that may have a slender curved brown stalk. It looks

crept up under it are trimmed with a hopeless to attempt to reproduce this sharp knife. delicate fairy thing with its five, incurv

This same process is repeated by dividing, red tines, each capped with a yellow ing the remaining half of the fruit into knob. If cast entire in a waxen bullet two sections and plaster-moulding them it would be horrible, leaden. To make

one at a time, the final result being a it, each lobe, which is virtually a petal three-piece mould around the fruit. It tightly curled, is opened out flat, and a

is then drilled at one end and poured full cast taken of it. A thin white wax sheet

of wax, giving a cast of the pawpaw, is now worked into the mould and cut a

which is forthwith colored to life with sixteenth of an inch larger than size the air brush. along one edge. A steel rod is prepared Any fruit treated this way must be by pointing it to exactly fit inside one of first coated with beeswax thinned out in the tines and the wax petal is then curved kerosene. While not thick enough to fill around it as a form. The extra six- any detail, it still is greasy enough to teenth-inch laps over and is burnished part the plaster from the fruit. down with a smooth, warmed rod. The A second method of preparing tree little knob at the end is worked up with fruits is to actually preserve them by the fingers. The five lobes are colored saturating with glycerine on the osmotic with the air brush, the stamens put in principle. Acorns, winged ash and maple and the flower assembled complete seeds, and the tiny green flowerets that around the stem. In most of the flowers there are so many colors that white wax is usually selected as the color to form the parts with.

All the grasses, including the canes, are simple and easy to mount. Most of them are simply dried and then re-colored with the air brush. If the leaf is broad, like the cat-tail, it is cast and made up from wax sheets. In large stemmed fleshy plants like the sagittaria water lilies—the ones with the flowers in a close blue spike and spear-head leaves—the stems are cast from life and molten wax





are the blossoms of so many trees, are
all treated in this way. Glycerine has a
very strong affinity for water, though it
must be first diluted with it to enter any
vegetable tissue. Besides this, the solu-
tion must be an insecticide and germ-
proof, so formaldehyde and arsenate are
added. The acorn

or maple seed is
soaked in a bath of this solution. Gradu-
ally the fluid enters the pulpy interior,
forcing the water from the cells, entirely
replacing it with non-shrinkable, deli-
quescent glycerine. The seed will not
hold its color, turning brown in a few
months, so the air brush is used to color
it to match a green fruit.

Still another method, applicable to hard dry seeds like the chestnut and sweet-gum burrs, is to dry them out and

ORCHID IN PARTS AND ASSEMBLED, recolor with the air brush. Many of the Six separate casts were required for this flower. berries, such as the red sumach drupes, are also treated this way.

necessary to impregnate through the sap Hardest of all are the catkins. Being wood. full of interstices, it is impossible to cast The preparation of such a panorama them in wax, they are too perishable for as that of the bird life of the Arizona the glycerine process, and, unless accom- deserts, for instance, involves an immodating enough to dry in shape like the mense deal of close Nature observation, catkins of the birch family, the last resort study by life photographs, and skill in is usually to make them laboriously by mounting the birds and plants. The exhand. And if, in addition to countless pedition sent out for this group consisted tiny berries, the catkin further adorns of two curators, a museum artist, and itself with fine downy fuzz, colored both some helpers hired on the spot. Camp black and white, the ingenuity of the was pitched near the Carnegie Laboracurator is well-nigh overtaxed to repro- tory, a short distance from Tucson, and duce Nature's handiwork.

the work begun of collecting specimens To prevent branches and twigs from and photographing the birds in all conshriveling, there are large vats of glycer- ceivable postures of life action. The ine and formaldehyde solution in the cameras were concealed in blinds near laboratory, in which they are put to soak. nests, and thus characteristic postures Heavy branches, and tree trunks with

were photographed from which the birds smooth sappy bark, are simply painted would later be mounted. The scientists with the same solution, as it is only then selected the most typical scene for

the proposed group, and decided what must be included and what left out. A strip of ground on which might be several desirable bushes holding nests, was marked off and photographed from different positions. Then every stick and stone in the strip was gathered up and color-sketches of all objects made on the spot. If a characteristic bush or cactus grew just outside the strip, but no good specimen on it, it was taken in place of non-essential plants. When the group was finally complete, every last foot of

it was packed up in sections and exOsage ORANGE CAST IN MOULD SHOWN IN ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH.

pressed in boxes to the Museum

« PreviousContinue »