THERE'S no excuse for bare, gloomy walls now-a-days. Every cottage, and almost every shanty can afford some lively, bright, colored picture, that will comfort and brighten the lives lived out there.

Thanks to a wonderful new way of making pictures, you can buy as pretty a picture for five dollars as you could a few years ago for five hundred. In fact, you can buy a copy of the five-hundred dollar picture so exact and perfect that you can't tell the difference, and even an artist has to look sharp.

 The works I speak of are chromos, and the reason they are cheap is because of one little circumstance that grease and water won't mix. It seems rather funny that a simple thing like that should be the cause of such a wonderful effect, but I'll tell you how it is.

What makes an oil painting expensive is, that an artist spent years in learning to paint, and then weeks and months on each picture. Every line and dot and shade is the work of his fine brush, and there are two or three coats of paint over every part of the picture.

The chromo is very different. It is not painted, but printed from stone plates. The first thing, in making one, is to prepare as many of these plates as there are colors and shades of color in the picture. The stone is of a peculiar kind, which likes, or absorbs, both grease and water. It is sawed into plates, and polished by rubbing with sand and water. Still they are not smooth enough. 

The sand is washed off, and again polished with fine pumice stone, till you can see your face in it. They are then examined with a microscope, to see that there are no tiny holes, for one would spoil the picture.

When perfectly smooth, they are set up slanting, in frames, and the artist goes to work. On the first stone, he draws, with a sharp pencil of a sort of chalk, every part of the picture that is to be of one color.

Suppose he wants to make a picture of a girl with brown hair and eyes, red cheeks and lips, and blue dress. He will need at least four stones. On the first he will draw with his pencil, every part that is to be flesh color, face and hands, being careful not to touch a finger to the polished stone, for the least finger mark would injure it.

On the second stone he would draw the red lips and cheeks; on the third the brown eyes and hair; and on the fourth the blue dress.

The chalk pencil is greasy, you know, and so every line of the picture is drawn in grease on the four stones.

Now comes a man who washes off the stones. The water soaks in everywhere except where the grease lines are water can't soak into grease.

The next man takes a sponge and coolly washes out the chalk lines, so that the stones look entirely clean: but though he washed off the chalk, the grease, which had soaked into the stone, is still there, as firmly as ever.

The next man pours gum-water over it, to stop up the pores of the stone. It does this nicely except where the sturdy little grease marks are, and there it can't get in.

Now comes the coloring: over the first stone is run a roller covered with flesh-colored paint. Oil paint is greasy, of course, so where the gum-water is, the paint won't stick, but on every line of grease it leaves its mark. Over the second stone goes a roller of red paint, leaving a pair of lips and cheeks on the stone. Over the third a brown roller, to color the eyes and hair; and over the fourth a blue roller, for the dress. Now all that needs to be done is to print on the same sheet of paper an impression from each of these stones. The first stone prints in oil paint, a fair complexion and pair of hands; the second a pair of lips; and so on through the whole four.

Imagine how careful they must be to have them match each other. If they did not, the girl's eyes might be planted in the middle of her cheeks, in a very unpleasant way; or her hair an inch or two above her head, as though she'd been scalped by an Indian.

Most pictures have many more than four tints. Not only every color, but every shade, has a separate stone. Ordinary pictures have from fifteen to twenty-five stones employed, yet the lines are all soft, and the colors shade into each other like the original painting.

Our best chromos even imitate the threads of the canvas, so that one must look on the wrong side to see if it be oil painting or oil chromo. For those of us who don't care to look on the wrong side of things they are just as beautiful as the expensive original.


Little Corporal.