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

7. Tambroni / Milanesi

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.]

Tambroni/Milanesi [Chapter numbers]
CLI A Short Section on Mordant Gilding. How to Make a Standard Mordant, and How to Gild with It
. [173]
There is a mordant which is perfect for wall, for panel, for glass, for iron, and for any location; and it is made in this way. You take your oil, cooked on the fire or in the sun, cooked as I have shown you before; and work up with this oil a little white lead and verdigris; and when you have got it worked up like water, put a little varnish into it, and let it all boil together for a while. Then take one of your little glazed dishes, and put this into it, and let it stand. And when you want to use any of it, either for flats or for embellishments, take a bit of it in a little dish, and a minever brush made up in the quill of a dove's or chicken's feather, and make it quite firm and pointed, and have the point extend just a little bit outside the quill. Then dip the point part way into the mordant, and carry out your embellishments and your ornaments. And, as I tell you, never get the brush too full. The reason is, that your works will come out for you as fine as hairs, and that is the handsomest work. Then do not do any more for a while;[174] then wait from day to day. Then sound out these productions with the ring finger of your right hand, that is, with the finger tip; [p. 97] and if you find it a little bit tacky or adhesive, then take the pincers; cut a half leaf of fine gold; or alloyed gold, or silver, though these do not last; and lay it over this mordant. Press it down with cotton, and then, with this finger, gradually stroke up some of this gold, and lay it over the mordant which has none. And do not do it with any other finger tip, for that is the most sensitive one you have. And see that your hands are always clean. And remember that the gold which you lay upon mordants, particularly in these delicate works, wants to be the most thoroughly beaten gold, and the most fragile, that you can secure; for if it is at all stiff you cannot use it so well.[175] When you have got it all gilded, you may leave it, if you like, until the next day. And then take a feather, and sweep it all over; and if you want to gather up the gold which comes off, that is, the "skewings," keep it, for it is useful to goldsmiths, or for your own affairs. Then take some cotton, all clean and new, and burnish your gilded ornament to perfection.

CLII How to Control the Drying of the Mordant.[176]
If you want to have this mordant just described keep for a week before it has to be gilded, do not put any verdigris in it. If you want it to keep for four days, put in a little verdigris. If you want the mordant to be good from one evening to the next, put in a lot of verdigris, and also a little bit of bole. And if you find that anyone protests to you against the verdigris, on the ground that it might eventually corrupt the gold, just listen patiently; for I have found by experience that the gold lasts well.

CLIII How to Make a Mordant out of Garlic.[177]
There is another mordant which is made in this way. Take clean garlic bulbs, to the volume of two or three porringers, or one; pound them in a mortar, squeeze them through a linen cloth two or three times. Take this juice, and work up a little white lead and bole with [p. 97] it, as fine as ever you can. Then scrape it up; put it into a little dish; cover it, and keep it; for the older the more seasoned it is, the better it will be. Do not take small garlic bulbs, nor young ones; get them about half grown. And when you want to use any of this mordant, put a little of it into a little glazed dish with a small amount of urine and stir it up thoroughly with a straw, according to your judgment, so that your brush will run freely enough to permit of handling it dexterously and in the way described above.[178] You may gild with it after half an hour, in the way described above. And this mordant possesses this quality, that it will wait for half an hour for you to gild, or for an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, or as long as you want. Just keep it well covered up, and protect it from dust. This kind of mordant would never withstand the water or moisture in churches even if there were brick copings on the wall; but it is quite in place on panel or iron, or on anything at all which is going to have to be varnished with liquid varnish. And these methods, with these two types of mordant, must suffice you. [p. 98]



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