The Ladies World – October, 1892
The table illustrated in this department is rustic in design, but made with more elaboration and finish, and more artistic meaning, than is usually bestowed on what is called the rustic furniture for out-of-door use. The material employed was wild grape vine chiefly, and the rough prickly bark and branches of a Chinese tree call the “Devil’s Walking Stick.” The vine and the tree branches and trunks had been cut in the winter, and had been seasoned for months before use, as otherwise warping and splitting would occur and destroy the work.
If any of our readers desire to make, or have made, a similar table, they must first work up a design, and when winter-time comes go to the woods and cut their material for next summer’s use. Having the design ready first is the proper and necessary preparation, because knowing what one wants to make, one knows how and what to select.
The design must be drawn full sized on a large sheet of paper, or several sheets pasted together to make one large one, using lead pencil first, and afterward going over it with pen and drawing ink. If the top of the table designed is to be a long oval like the one illustrated, take two or three smooth boards and make the oblong-oval foundation, keeping the boards in place by means of two stout cleats, one near each end, just near enough so that they may hold the boards together. These cleats are necessary because the legs throw out braces from their upper ends under the table, and these braces have their ends nailed one to the leg, and the other to the cleat. This foundation must be made just the shape one intends the table top to be.
The design drawn in pen-and-ink may be pasted to the upper side of the foundation to serve as a guide for the placing of the small pieces of vine wood that make up the mosaic-like arrangement of the design. The worker cuts a piece by measurements for a certain part of the design and at once places it in its proper part or section of the design, so avoiding all confusion and unnecessary trouble. Piece by piece is cut and laid in its place until the worker sees the whole design expressed in wood before him. As will be seen by the illustration of the table top, the different parts of the design are outlined by lengths of slender vine; this outline may be added after the pieces are in place, or laid down first secured by blue and fine tacks.
It is necessary that every piece of wood should be cut flat on its under side, so that it may take a coating of strong glue and adhere closely to the foundation prepared for it. Coat each piece on its underside and then put it in its proper place in the design and at once tack it by a very fine wire nail at each end; this makes it very strong and durable. The slender strips of vine that outline each figure of the design need to be secured by fine wire nails at closer intervals.
In making this table, however, the top is the last part, or rather the mosaic-like design is the last part of the work. Every other part of the table must be in its place before decoration is begun. For instance, the four legs must be cut to stand at and equal height; each must throw out at the top three braces, one to be nailed to the cleat, and one branching to the right and the other to the left, both to be nailed to the foundation of the top. When this is done, bands of wood are nailed around the edge of the foundation of the top and the ornamental sides are outlined by fine as seen, the top part in a straight line and the lower forming curves as seen. This part is filled in with the glossy, prickly bark described.
At the lower part two pieces of wood, set at right angles, form cross pieces connecting and strengthening the legs. From the intersection of these cross-ties rises a central column or support nailed at its top to the under side of the top foundation. Braces are thrown out from the lower part of each leg and nailed to the cross-ties, the whole structure by these means being very substantial and durable.
The laying of the pieces for filling in the design and outlines is one of the concluding operations; after this the whole table may be given a rubbing-in of some good oil stain. The wood employed must have no stringy or rough, loose bark on it, but be well cleaned. The best step is to varnish the table.
Frances E. Fryatt (1892, October). Hall table of rustic design. The Ladies World, Vol. XIII(10), 16. Retrieved from VictorianTimes.us http://victoriantimes.us/decorating/hall-table-of-rustic-design