Monday, March 11, 2013

Return to Research

Back to the research I've been doing on Civil War-era cartridge pouches, specifically on thread color and waxes.

The two books I'd been waiting for (one on Indian War-era cartridge boxes and other accoutrements, another on US Military belts in general) arrived Friday. I've flipped through them, but not started reading. Last night I made space on one of the bookshelves, and put them away, with other military-ish leather-ish books I have (German WWII Cavalry, US military saddles, etc.). 

Circling back to the thread color issue, I'd previously said I wasn't going to try making my own black sticky wax. However, the idea wouldn't quite get out of my mind. The recipes for black  wax are:

"9 [parts] rosin, 6 pitch, 6 beeswax, 1 tallow. To be mixed together and poured into water; then worked with the hands until it becomes soft and pliable." page 175, Ordnance Manual, pub. By J.B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia, PA, 1861

"Pitch, 2 lb. ; resin, 2-1/2 lb. seal oil, one pennyworth. In winter add 2 lb. of resin instead of 2-1/2 lb., and never more than of the oil until the stiffness of the wax has been tested

"(b) Pitch, 1 lb. ; resin, 1 lb. ; and linseed oil, one pennyworth.

"The exact amount of oil to be used in both of the above recipes depends on the season and the weather. A little lampblack may be well mixed in when the wax is required very black. Always melt the pitch and resin together, and then add the oil. Afterwards pour the mixture into cold water, and knead and pull it until it floats. Try a small piece first,- to ascertain whether there is sufficient oil, and likewise after pulling to see whether it floats." Saddlery and Harness-Making Paul N. Hasluck, ed.
J.A. Allen and Company, Ltd., London, 1904, available as a modern reprint.

If you point yourself to Wikipedia and do a little vocabulary-checking, pitch and resin can be synonyms, or not. In this case, I'm going with the interpretation that "pitch" refers to a the petroleum-derived sticky stuff, and "resin" to the plant-derived sticky stuff. Exercising my Google-Fu, the common source for petroleum pitch for hobbyists is to beg some tar from roofers. For plant resin/pitch, Stockholm Tar, which is used by boatbuilders and some horse-owners (on hooves). 

Seal oil is oil from seals. Not going there. Linseed oil is, I think, common enough I'm not going to natter any more about it.

I also looked up lampblack. Oh, look, its the same thing as carbon black pigment. Hmm. I wonder if I could buy a reasonably small amount of lamblack/carbon black at Dick Blick and see how adding just that to beeswax works...

...I can't tell you that. Because I found R&F brand pigment sticks, in "Lamp Black" and "Intense Carbon Black", basically oil paint in a stick. Ingredients: " natural wax, linseed oil, and pigment" I followed a link to the material spec. sheet on drying times, etc., and saw that it also had information on their encaustic paint. Think think, think think think. Wait, isn't encaustic done with wax? Yes, it is

Dick Blick also carries the encaustic media, ingredients: "pigment, pure beeswax, and damar resin" in "Intense Carbon Black".  Damar gum/resin is plant-derived.

Yesterday we went to Dick Blick, and I got one of the oil sticks and one of the blocks of encaustic media. As I noted above, the oil sticks have a very long dry time, and I suspect are pretty soft/sticky, they come wrapped in plastic inside a tube. The encaustic media feels like a chunk of plastic, in a plastic wrapper. Hopefully one (or both) will work for waxing thread. The oil stick could be too soft/sticky/messy, and the encaustic media too brittle.

At the very least, I'll do a sample seam with each, to see the color effect on white thread, gauge messiness and/or brittleness, and to have as a sample for reenactors who are serious about Getting Things Right.

Um, I think I may be slipping into that mind-set. And Ron says I've infected him, he's probably going to sew the stuff I've got cut out at a finer count of stitches per inch than the last ones. 

I didn't get as far as the sample seams yesterday, got derailed by other things. But I think I've nattered and deluged you with links quite enough today.

No comments:

Post a Comment