Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Whitening leather - Napoleonic style

From the Manuel Complete de Sous-Officier

"It is boiled in water, so as to make it white after having finely seived it, it dilutes the ground up pipeclay .
You do not make this mixture too thick or clear top, it extends on the cold leather equipment
that is bleached white. If the leather equipment is new, he must scrape the sides that do not require whitening, and there is a solution of white pipe clay of spain, you put on as many layers that are required for them to be fully white."
Manuel des Gardes Nationale 1830
"The same can dissolve one ounce of white lead, two ounces of hide glue with one ounce of white soap flakes in two litres of water and boil the mixture, taking care to stir, to avoid
the lightest parts floating to the top, which would prevent the mixture blending, then there mingl a slight amount of powder blue."
"The following method also with advantage: it is to boil a pinch of starch, after, having diluted in a quantity of water is sufficient to whiten a leather equipment, add six times as much powdered pipeclay, and Stir this mixture on the fire until perfectly boiling,[then] we add a few drops of azure blue to the whitening... Care must be taken when you want to bleach the leather, soak it in clear water to remove all remaining white and loose under the new layers, and
damage to their effect. When the leather equipment is stitched, we mark the line with a pencil."
A British recipe, c.1820
Take 6 pounds of the finest pipe-clay, pound it very small, put it in a tub, and put to it about 5
gallons of cold water. Let it remain for two or three days, stirring it now and then. Then take 6
ounces of gum dragon, and put it into 4 quarts of boiling water, and cover it up close for two or
three days. When the gum is well dissolved, take a fine hair sieve, and strain it into the pipe-clay, and keep stirring the pipe-clay well all the time you are doing this. Then take half an ounce of stone blue, and dissolve it well amongst your colouring (this gives a clear gloss to the belts). Let it allremain one day longer, and it will be fit for use, putting it on lightly and evenly with a sponge."