Notebook, 1993-

Il Libro dell' Arte - Cennino D' Andrea Cennini. The Craftsman's Handbook. The Italian "Il Libro dell' Arte." Translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1933, by Yale University Press.

Notes 1-50   Notes 51-124   Notes 125-162   Notes 163-283

13. Milanesi - The Final Section

Note: The following chapter numbers and headings are not original to the Libro dell' Arte. The headings have been invented merely to serve as a running guide to the content of the text; the numbers are those attached to the chapters in the editions of Tambroni and the Milanesi, and are included here for convenience in locating references to those editions or to translations based upon them. [See Preface, p. xviii, above.]

Milanesi [Chapter numbers]
The Final Section, Devoted to Methods of Casting, Begins Here
Now it seems to me that I have said enough about all the systems of painting. I will tell you about something else which is very useful and gets you great reputation in drawing, for copying and imitating things from nature: and it is called casting. [p. 123]

How to Take a Life Mask.[260]
If you wish to have a face of a man or woman, of any rank, adopt this method. Get the young man or woman: or an old man, Though you can hardly do the beard or hair; but have the beard shaved off. Take rose-scented, perfumed oil; anoint the face with a good-sized minever brush. Put a cap or hood over the head; and have a bandage, about nine inches wide, and as long as from one shoulder to the [p. 124] other, wound around the top of the head over the cap; and stitch the edge around the cap from one ear to the other.[261] Put a little cotton into each ear, that is, into the hole; and drawing tight the edge of the bandage or cloth, stitch it to the beginning of the collar; and it gives a half turn in the middle of the shoulder, and comes back to the buttons in front.[262] And arrange and stitch it in this way on the other shoulder too; and in that way you get the head shaped up with the bandage. When this is done, stretch the man or woman out on a carpet, on top of a bench or table. Get an iron hoop, one or two fingers in width, with a few teeth on top, like a saw. And have this hoop go around the man's face, and have it two or three fingers longer than the face. Get one of your helpers to keep it hanging away from the face, so that it does not touch the waiting person. Take this bandage, and draw it up, around and around, hooking the edge of it which has not been stitched on to the teeth of this hoop, and then fastening it in the middle of the space between the flesh and the hoop so that the hoop stands as far away from the bandage as from the bandage to the face all around. Let there be two fingers, or a little less, all around, according to how thick you want the mold of plaster to come out; for it is right there that you have to cast it.

The Breathing Tubes.[263]
You need to have a goldsmith make two little brass or silver tubes, round on top, and more open than below, the way a trumpet is; and have them each about nine inches long, and one finger in diameter, made up as light as possible. On the other, lower, end they should be made in the shape of the nostrils of the nose; and enough smaller to fit into the nostrils very accurately, without making the nose spread at all. And have them closely perforated with little holes from the center up, and tied together; but at the base, where they go into the [p. 125] nose, have them kept apart artificially as far as will equal that space of flesh which lies between the nostrils. After this:

The Operations of Casting the Matrix.[264]
Have the man or the woman stretched out; and have him put these little tubes into the nostrils of his nose, and have him hold them himself, with his hand. have some plaster of Paris[265] ready, made and roasted, fresh and well sifted. Have some tepid water near you in a basin, and put some of this plaster briskly on top of this water. Work swiftly, for it sets fast; and do not get it either too liquid or not enough so. Take a glass: take some of this preparation, and put it on, and fill in around the face with it. When you have got it evenly filled, keep the eyes to cover after all the rest of the face. Have him keep his mouth and eyes closed--not tightly, for that is not necessary, but as if he were asleep; and when your opening is filled in one finger over the nose, let it stand a while, until it sets. And bear in mind that if this person whom you are casting is very important, as in the case of lords, kings, popes, emperors, you mix this plaster with tepid rose water; and for other people any tepid spring or well or river water is good enough.

When your preparation is good and dry,[266] take a scalpel or a penknife, or scissors, neatly, and cut around the bandage which you stitched on: draw the tubes out of his nose carefully; have him sit up, or stand up, holding between his hands the preparation which he has on his face, working his face about carefully to get it out of this mask or mold. Set it aside, and take great care of it.

How to Cast this Waste Mold.[267]
When this job is done, take a swaddling cloth, and wind it all around this mold, in such a way that the cloth projects two fingers beyond the edge of the mold. Take a thick minever brush; and with [p. 126] any oil you please lubricate the hollow of the mold, very carefully, so as not to spoil anything by accident. And wet up some of the same plaster in the same way. And if you care to mix in some of the powder of pounded brick, it will be much the better for it. And take some of this plaster with the glass, or with a porringer, and put it into the mold; and hold it over a settle, so that when you put in our mixture you may pound gently on the settle with the other hand, so that the plaster has a chance to get into every part evenly, like wax into a seal, and not make bubbles or holes. When the mold is all done and filled up, let it stand for half a day, or a day at the most. Take a little hammer, and deftly feel over and chip off the outside crust, that is, that of the first mold, in such a way as not to break the nose or anything else. And if . . . to find. . . .[268] this mold easier to chip, before you fill it up, take a piece of saw, and saw it in several places on the outside; not so much as to go way through, for that would be too bad. You will find that when it is filled up the least stroke of your little hammer will shatter it neatly. In this way you will take the effigy or physiognomy or casting of every great lord. And know that afterward, once you have the first one, you may have the mask cast from this mold in copper, metal, bronze, silver, lead, and, generally, in any metal you please. Just get capable masters who understand founding and casting.

How to Cast Whole Figures.[269]
Know that if you wish to follow this process into more subtle mastery, I will inform you that you may mold and cast a man in one piece, just as in ancient times. Many good figures and nudes are to be found. Therefore, if you want a whole nude man or woman, you must first have him stand upright in the bottom of a box, which you get built up to the height of the man's chin. And have this box all fit together[270] lengthwise halfway from one side to the other. Arrange to [p. 127] have a thin templet[271] of very thin copper from the middle of the shoulders, starting at the ears, down to the bottom of the box; and have it follow lightly over the flesh of the nude without injury, not pressing on the flesh by so much as a line. And have this templet nailed on to the edge where this box fits together. And in this way nail on four pieces of templet which will close up together as the edges of the box do. Then grease the nude; stand him up in this box: wet up a great quantity of plaster with quite warm water; and have an assistant, so that if you fill in in front of the man the assistant will fill in in back, so as to get the box full at the same time, up to the throat: because you can do the face separately, as I have shown you. Let the plaster stand until it has hardened thoroughly. Then open and take apart the box; and insert tools and chisels between the edges of the box and the copper or iron templets which you made; and open them up, the way you would a nut, holding on each side these pieces of the box and the casting which you have made. And you extract the nude [p. 129] gently from it: wash him diligently with clear water, for his flesh will have turned the color of a rose. And in the same way, again, as when you filled in the face, you may cast this mold or casting in any metal you please; but I advise you, in wax. The reason: it enables you to chip the plaster without injury to the figure, because you may remove, and repair wherever the figure is defective. After this you may add the head to it; and cast everything together, including the whole person. And likewise you may cast separately, member by member, that is, an arm, a hand, a foot, a leg; a bird, a beast, and any sort of animal, fish and other such things. But they have to be dead, because they have neither the natural sense nor the rigidity to stand still and steady.

How to Make a Cast of your Own Person.[272]
On the same subject. You may also cast your own person, as follows.[273] Get ready a quantity of plaster or of clay,[274] well worked over and clean, wet up quite soft, as if it were an ointment; and have it spread out on a good broad table, such as a dining table. Have it placed on the ground; have this plaster or clay spread out on it a foot deep. Fling yourself on it, on whatever side you wish, front or back or side. And if this plaster or clay takes you well, get yourself pulled out of it neatly, pulling yourself out straight, so as not to shift it in any direction. Then let this mold dry.[275] When it is dry, have it cast in lead. And, in the same way, do the other side of your person, that is, the opposite to that which you have done. Then join them together; cast it all at once in lead or in other metals.

Castings in Gesso for Use on Panel.[276]
If you want to cast little figures of lead or other metals, first grease [p. 129] your figures, and make molds in clay,[277] and cast them with anything you please. It is true that on panel you sometimes need some reliefs, such as heads of men and lions or other animals, or tiny little figures. Let the mold which you have made in clay[278] get dry: then grease it well with oil .[279] Have some gesso, sottile or grosso, ground with rather strong size: cast some of this gesso, hot, on the mold; let it cool off. When it is cold, separate this gesso a little way from the mold with the point of the penknife. Then blow quite hard into this opening. You catch your little gesso figure in your hand; and it will be finished. And you may make up a lot of them in this way, and keep them on hand. And know that it is better to make them in winter than in summer.

How to Cast Medals.[280]
If you wish to cast medals, you may cast them in clay[281] or in plaster. Get them dry, and then melt some sulphur; get it cast in these molds, and it will be done. And if you wish to do them just with plaster, mix ground red lead with it; that is, mix the dry powder with the plaster. And make it as stiff as you think best, to suit yourself.

How to Make a Mold From a Seal or Coin.[282]
If you wish to cast a seal, or a ducat or other coin, very perfectly, follow this method; and hold it dear, for it is very perfect thing. Take a little basin half full of clear water, or full, as you please. Take half a porringer of ashes. Throw them into this little basin, and work them over with your hand. Wait a little: before the water clears entirely, empty some of this rather muddy water into another little basin; and do that several times, until you think you have as much of the ashes as you need. Then let it settle until the water is clear and the ashes have all gone to the bottom. Draw off this water, and dry the ashes in the sun, or any way you please. Then wet them up with salt dissolved [p. 131] in water, and make a sort of plaster of them. Then in this plaster cast seals, medals, little figures, coins, and in general anything which you wish to cast. Having done so, let the plaster dry gradually without fire or sun. Then cast lead, silver, or any metal you wish upon this plaster, for this plaster is capable of standing any great weight.

Praying that God All-Highest, Our Lady, Saint John, Saint Luke, the Evangelist and painter, Saint Eustace, Saint Francis, and Saint Anthony of Padua will grant us grace and courage to sustain and bear in peace the burdens and struggles of this world; and as regards the students of this book that They will grant them grace to study well and to retain it well, so that by their labors they may live in peace and keep their families in this world, through grace, and at the end, on high, through glory, per infinita secula seculorum, A M E N.[283]

The Book is Finished:
Referamus Gratia Christi.



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