This beautiful ground, produced by heat, is valued not only for its hardness and its capacity to stand a heat greater than that of boiling water, but also for its fine appearance. It is made by means of a varnish prepared thus: Take one gallon of good linseed oil and half a pound of umber, boil them together until the oil becomes very brown and thick, strain it then through a coarse cloth and set it again to boil, in which state it must be continued until it acquires a consistency resembling that of pitch; it will then be fit for use. Having thus prepared the varnish, clean well the surface which is to be japanned; then apply vermilion ground in shellac varnish or with drying oil, very thinly diluted with oil of turpentine, on the places intended to imitate the more transparent parts of the tortoise-shell. When the vermilion is dry, brush the whole over with the black varnish thinned to the right consistency with oil of turpentine. When set and firm put the work into a stove where it may undergo a very strong heat, which must be continued a considerable time, for three weeks or even a month so much the better. This ground may be decorated with painting and gilding in the same way as any other varnished surface, which had best be done after the ground has been hardened, but it is well to give a second annealing at a very gentle heat after it has been finished. A very good black japan may be made by mixing a little japan gold size with ivory or lamp-black, this will develop a good gloss without requiring to be varnished afterwards.
Japan work should be painted with real “enamel paints,” that is with paints actually ground in varnish, and in that case all pigments may be used and the peculiar disadvantages, which attend several pigments with respect to oil or water, cease with this class of vehicle, for they are secured by it when properly handled from the least danger of changing or fading. The preparation of pigments for this purpose consists in bringing them to a due state of fineness by grinding them on a stone with turpentine. The best varnish for binding and preserving the pigments is shellac. This, when judiciously handled, gives such a firmness and hardness to the work that, if it be afterwards further secured with a moderately thick coat of seed-lac varnish, it will be almost as hard and durable as glass. The method of painting in varnish is, however, far more tedious than with an oil or water vehicle. It is, therefore, now very usual in japan work for the sake of dispatch, and in some cases in order to be able to use the pencil (brush) more freely, to apply the colours in an oil vehicle well diluted with turps. This oil (or japanners’ gold size) may be made thus: Take 1 lb. of linseed oil and 4 oz. of gum anime, set the oil in a proper vessel and then add the gum anime