- 时间：2021-01-28 06:15:15
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CROSSING THE RIVER. CROSSING THE RIVER.
The Japanese lacquer of the present time is not so highly prized as that of the last or the previous century. It is not so well made, partly for the reason that the workmen have lost their skill in the art, and partly because labor is much more expensive now than formerly. The prices obtained for some of the specimens of this kind of work have been very high, but they are not enough to meet the advance that has been made in wages in the past few years. The manufacturers are anxious to turn their money as rapidly as possible, and consequently they do not allow their productions to dry thoroughly. To be properly prepared, a piece of lacquer should dry very slowly; and it used to be said that the best lacquer was dried under water, so that the process should not be too rapid. The article, whatever it may be, is first shaped from wood or papier-maché, and then covered with successive coatings of varnish or lacquer; this is made from the gum of a tree, or, rather, from the juice, and it is said to have the peculiar property of turning black from exposure to the air, though it is of a milky whiteness when it exudes from the tree. It can be made to assume various colors by the addition of pigments; and while it is in a fresh condition coatings of gold-leaf are laid on in such a way as to form the figures that the artist has designed. Every coating must be dried before the next is laid on; and the more elaborate and costly the work, the more numerous are the coatings. Sometimes[Pg 251] there may be a dozen or more of them, and pieces are in existence that are said to have received no less than fifty applications of lacquer. A box may thus require several years for its completion, as the drying process should never be hastened, lest the lacquer crack and peel when exposed to the air, and especially to heat. Good lacquer can be put into hot water without the least injury; but this is not the case with the ordinary article.
To show him how little I cared for any girl's age whose father preferred not to mention it, I reverted to his sister and brother. She was in New Orleans, he said, with her nieces, but might at any moment be sent into the Confederacy, being one of General Butler's "registered enemies." The brother was--
REELING COTTON. REELING COTTON.
"There are women here who are not pretty, just as there are some in America; but when you are among them, it isn't polite to tell them of it. Some of them paint their faces to make them look pretty. I suppose nobody ever does anything of the kind in America or any other country but Japan, and therefore it is very wicked for the Japanese ladies to do so. And when they do paint, they lay it on very thick. Mr. Bronson calls it kalsomining, and Fred says it reminds him of the veneering that is sometimes put on furniture to make pine appear like mahogany, and have an expensive look, when it isn't expensive at all. The 'geishas,' or dancing and singing girls, get themselves up in this way; and when they have their faces properly arranged, they must not laugh, for fear that the effort of smiling would break the coating of paint. And I have heard it said that the covering of paint is so thick that they couldn't smile any more than a mask could; and, in fact, the paint really takes the place of a mask, and makes it impossible to recognize anybody through it.