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Lantern slides and how to make them yourself  (part 1)
PAINTING ON GLASS

The earliest slides were all hand-drawn and some of them were an unique work of art.

Images painted by hand on glass were produced in many different ways, each having its own characteristics. A lot of articles in magic lantern magazines and chapters in slide-painting instruction books in the second half of the nineteenth century describe every aspect of painting those slides in detail: the transparent pigments, mediums and varnishes to be used, the skills and dexterity, and the tools and equipment needed.

Painting upon glass is anything but easy. The surface is slippery and the applied colours could easy flow into each other. The painted images are very small and reveal even the smallest aberrations when highly enlarged upon the screen. Both oil paints and water colours have been in use, though most of the slides are painted in oils.

The changing technology of the magic lantern influenced the way in which the images were painted and manufactured. In particular the invention of better illuminants and optical systems demanded extremely detailed transparent paintings.
Rupert the Bear's adventures. Probably traced in coloured ink from an existing drawing. It's remarkable that only the outlines are coloured and not the surfaces. Primus Magic Lantern Slide Painting Outfit. 
A complete set with 5 tubes of paint, glass plates, varnish etc.
Magic Lantern Slide and Photo Painting Kit. 'Photocol outfit No. 24' -1946. 
This box (6.25" x 9", 16 x 23 cm) contains a complete set of paint, two little porcelain pans for the bottles of finish glaze and a palette board. The instruction book by H.N. Durham  has 36 pages.
OUTLINE SLIDES

The leading British manufacturer of magic lanterns and slides Carpenter and Westley was the first to use particular manufacturing processes for the multiple production of magic lantern slides. This was done by transferring the engraved black outlines of an image on to glass for subsequent hand-colouring by professional slide painters.

The English firm Brodie & Middleton is well known for their production of outline slides, intended to be coloured by the hobbyist purchaser. A complete set of glass painting materials contained mostly some twelve colours, brushes,
fixing varnish, one dozen outline slides, an easel and an instruction book. The set was sold for 12 shillings. In 1876 Charles Middleton published some small books about the subject. At this time the company advertised a selection of circa 400 outline slides, including children’s subjects.

The picture shows one of a set of eight B&M's ‘outline only’ glasses of the dramatic series 'The Bottle', drawn from the well known engravings by George Cruikshank (No 34 in their catalogue).

 


 

KEYSTONE MAGIC LANTERN HANDMADE SLIDES & CRAYONS

The American Keystone company, producer of many sets of high quality lantern slides, put this set of crayons on the market.

The box says: KEYSTONE INSTRUCTOR OUTFIT - HANDMADE LANTERN SLIDES - KEYSTONE VIEW CO. MEADVILLE, PENNA. 

The little box of crayons is marked: SEVEN HANDMADE LANTERN SLIDE CRAYONS KEYSTONE VIEW CO. MEADVILLE, PENNA. MADE IN U.S.A. 

The back of the box says: THESE CRAYONS ARE MADE SOLELY FOR USE ON ETCHED GLASS AND ARE THE ONLY CRAYONS OR PENCILS MADE FOR THIS PURPOSE. THE COLORS ARE RICH AND FREE FROM DARK STREAKS. BEST RESULTS WILL BE OBTAINED BY USING HIGH GRADE MUD-GROUND ETCHED GLASS. KEYSTONE ETCHED GLASS IS THE BEST. CRAYONS SHOULD NOT BE SHARPENED WITH A KNIFE. A PIECE OF SAND PAPER LIKE THE ONE ENCLOSED SHOULD BE USED. TO REMOVE PENCIL DRAWINGS AND CRAYON COLORS FROM ETCHED GLASS A FEW DROPS OF HOUSEHOLD OIL FOLLOWED BY SOAP AND WATER WILL GIVE THE BEST RESULTS. PRICES: BOX OF SEVEN KEYSTONE CRAYONS 90¢. INDIVIDUAL CRAYONS, EACH 15¢ KEYSTONE VIEW CO. MEADVILLE, PENNA.


  
"Outfit For Making Homemade Lantern Slides" Keystone View Co. Meadville, Penna. The cloth covered wooden box is 17" long, 5" tall, and 6 3/4" deep (c. 43 x 12,5 x 17 cm).

Included in the kit:
"How To Make Handmade Lantern Slides" by G.E. Hamilton Copyright 1944 Keystone View Co. 24 pages.
6 Jars of Keystone ink.
Tin for Keystone solvent.
2 Boxes Keystone crayons; 7 crayons in each box.
Box of 6 Keystone Lantern Slide Pencils.
5 Rolls Keystone binding tape.
Unknown number of sheets of carbon paper.
Unknown number of sheets of cellophane.
About 60 pieces of glass to make slides.

 
DECALCOMANIA

By the difficult term Decalcomania we describe the technique of transferring pictures from specially prepared paper to surfaces such as glass, china, pottery etc. In the world of magic lanterns we specifically mean the application of this process while making a lantern slide by transferring an image on a square or oblong piece of glass. The technique was used by professional slide makers, but enjoyed a vogue among amateurs too. Porous paper was coated with a solution of starch, albumen and glycerine. The coloured pictures were printed, details first, background last, and then finished by a coat of glue. For home use the pictures were supplied on sheets, Go to the Water-Babies....sometimes complete with the empty glasses. After cutting out the pictures they were moistened and transferred to the glass. When the paper was removed the pictures remained on the glass plate.

The famous British Company W. Butcher & Sons produced this kind of slides using the 'Primus' trademark in their well known series Junior Lecturers Lantern Slides. The firm also sold paper sheets printed with complete sets, supplied for purchasers to make their own slides. Also the German company of Unger und Hoffmann, maker of the well known 'Projektion für Alle' series, produced sheets of 'Hochfeine Abziehbilder' for home use, complete with instructions.

Around 1889 the English firm Theobald & Co. supplied lithographic transfers in sheets, intended for slide production by the purchaser, and slides on special transparent paper, for placing between two glass plates. The paper was lithographically printed and made translucent by an application of an oily liquid made of creosote and turpentine. It's difficult to distinguish these slides from the ordinary, but the word 'Patent' in the right hand bottom corner and a silvery sheen at the border may help.




Gelatinebilder für Laterna Magica, Gelatine slides for Magic Lanterns. Package with twelve gelatine slides made by the Gebrüder Bing, Nuremberg (G.B.N.), complete with directions for use. The package shows Bing's trade mark as it was in use from 1890 - 1906.
 
PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDES.

Amateur photography was advanced by the introduction of the gelatine dry plate in the late 19th century. Unfortunately the gelatine-bromide plates were not suitable for projection because their grain was too coarse. Dry plates coated with gelatine-silver chloride, adapted to transparency work, were produced from 1881 by various manufacturers like Ilford, Agfa, Kodak and Lumière. These plates could be coated mechanically and were sold comparatively cheaply.
The picture could be toned in a single colour ranging from blue to brownish red (sepia).

Photographic slides could be made by modifying a negative glass plate into positive glass slides. This could be done in two different ways: if no reduction or enlargement was needed, the slide could be printed by laying the negative directly on the glass plate (contact print) and exposing it; if the format had to be changed to match the standard measures of the slide, a copy camera had to be employed.

Photographic slides were sometimes painted over by hand in translucent colours. The standard formats were 3 ¼ inches square, or 3 ¼ x 4 inches in the USA. 


Almost all photographic slides were protected by cover glasses. Since the slides were
no longer mounted in wooden frames, but simply were edge-bound with a cover glass, almost always a mask of thin black opaque paper was placed between the cover glass and image glass. The masks were cut to the same external dimensions of the glasses and with apertures of various shapes and sizes. They mainly served to exclude extraneous details at the edge of the picture, but also to mask the shortcomings of simple lenses, which tended to cause some distortion towards the edges of the picture. Sometimes a nice effect was created by giving the mask a special form, like the shape of a heart or a keyhole.

Cardboard box with 36 undeveloped Kodak lantern slides.

This simple slide-binding clamp is a useful device for clamping the components of a slide - picture glass, paper mask and cover glass - to allow both hands to be used for applying the edge-binding tape.

Picture left: Dutch slide binding tape, produced by Animex.
 
 
More about do-it-yourself slides on the next page.

 
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