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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/407

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THE PRINCIPLES OF DECORATION.

eled terra-cotta, glass slabs, or glass mosaic, and that our streets may at least present a clean, gay, and cheerful appearance.

I beg you to observe the Chinese, Japanese, and Persian pottery exhibited, mostly in the shape of tiles, and I ask you if these would not make a lovely alternative to our present fronts of dingy brick or plain or painted compo. When I was in Cairo, many house-fronts and some fronts of mosques were faced with these Persian or Rhodian tiles. If any one would start a gorgeous front of enameled pottery, there would be an outcry at first; but we should gradually get accustomed to beauty and color, and become reconciled to the loss of dingy and blackened brick. Even now there is no outcry when the platforms of a railway station are lined with white glazed bricks banded with green or gray, and the small extra cost would soon be repaid by better health and the saving of painting. At first this could only be done by tasteful, benevolent, and patriotic men who were wealthy, or by enterprising ones, who thought a house so fronted would advertise itself; but as this sort of facing came into fashion, window jambs and reveals, panels, strings, and cornices would be kept in stock, probably printed in colors instead of hand-painted, and would be cheap enough. There is one use of enameled pottery I have not mentioned—roofing tiles. In parts of France and Italy these prevail. At Lugo, in the Rornagna, I saw the steeple of a church covered with enameled pottery of different colors, which wound round it, the steeple being a cone; the visible glazed parts were semicircular in section, and, though I do not know how they were fixed, they looked as if they were stuck into mortar, like the enameled terra-cotta cones found at Babylon, and used to ornament wall surfaces. Most of the tile patterns I have seen in France are, to say the least, more ingenious than beautiful; but there are gold and green tiles used at Vienna and at Botzen that are ornamental enough.

Even the Romans were more alive to the use that might be made of broken glass than we are, for we learn from Martial that the collection of broken glass was a trade, and the glass, he says, was exchanged for brimstone matches. I can not say how these glass slabs or tiles would stand our climate, but, if they could be fixed in no other way, they might be set in frames of cast iron, barffed.

I hardly know if I should include sgraffito. It would certainly be useless in the denser parts of London, as it would soon be a uniform dingy black; but we know that there are still examples that are visible at South Kensington, and that it lasts well in the country. It is done in this way: Any colored ground that may be chosen is first prepared of mortar or cement, colored with earthy or mineral pigments; it is then laid on the wall.