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This exhibit features objects decorated using 19th century techniques. Represented are: country painting on metal and wood employing brush work, as well as examples of primitive portraits often created prior to the introduction of the camera; theorem painting on white velvet, which utilizes stencils further embellished with brush work; stenciling on metal and wood using bronze lining powders; gold leaf painting on metal; freehand bronze work where the bronze lining powders are applied without stencils; Pontypool painting, often featuring tiny daisy-like flowers and roses; reverse painting on glass; tinsel painting, which is re- verse painting on glass using translucent paint, the glass later backed with tin foil to produce a sparkling look; and German designs typically painted on bride’s boxes.

For the works exhibited, oil paints, bronze lining powders, and gold leaf have been used with varnish as the medium. The Pontypool technique, however, uses oil paints with wax to create the central design. Some objects exhibit several techniques to complete the decoration.

The objects in the exhibit have been created by members of the Charter Oak Chapter of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration, Inc., (HSEAD). The society, together with its chapters, carries on the work of Esther Stevens Brazer, who devoted her life to the study and promotion of early American decoration as an art.

HSEAD also records and maintains patterns of early designs, sets standards for contemporary reproductions, provides awards, teacher certification, and workshops, conducts two national meetings a year, and publishes both a newsletter and a journal, The Decorator. Further information about HSEAD can be obtained at

Babbidge Library, Gallery on the Plaza
Curators: Valerie Oliver and David Kapp