Oriental lattice work

By CRABCROSSE

Source: AMATEUR WORK MAGAZINE, VOLUME II. (1883) - WARD, LOCK, & Co., LONDON
 

The richness of oriental lattice-work cannot fail to strike those who have, like the writer, travelled in countries where the rays of the sun have to be combatted, instead of courted, as in England. Here, lattice-work is almost confined to summer arbors and verandahs, and seldom takes any other form than that of long strips of wood crossing each other at such angles as to show a number of square, or lozenge-shaped openings; while in the East, the variety of patterns is very great, and the effect very rich, especially when several of these occur in one piece of work. For window casements in hot climates, lattice-work is decidedly preferable to glass, since, while withstanding the fierce heat of the sun, it admits air, and sufficient light for the ordinary occupations of an oriental dwelling. The variety of patterns also admits of a variety of coloring, an advantage which English lattice-work cannot be said to partake of, this being almost uniformly painted green.
 
Oriental lattice work

 
The uses of lattice-work in our country are so few, that it is only from the amateur that any departure from the established form and coloring of this work can be hoped. We cannot expect a return to the wrought iron verandah work of the early Georgian period; and the writer has no wish to see the cast-iron work of some of the Dutch villas repeated in England. There, however, it is no unusual thing to see the front of a house almost completely screened by latticed galleries extending along the floor line of every storey from the basement to the attics, and cast-iron is the material used, the designs being generally light in character, and full of that ornament which wearies the eye from its monotony.

The lattice-work of the East is, however, very rich; at first sight it may seem a hopeless task for the amateur to attempt to reproduce it. Indeed, it was not until the writer came upon a casement dropping to pieces from ill-usage or neglect, that he perceived how simple was its principle of construction. With the exception of the frames and supports, the various patterns are all made of small pieces of wood, bored, and fitted together with pegs.

One of the most effective in appearance, and at the same time, most commonly met with, is the lattice pattern shown in the next image.
 
Oval shape oriental lattice work
 
To construct this, all that is necessary will be a number of pieces of wood of an oval shape, say 50mm (2 in) long diameter, and 38mm (1 1/2 in) short diameter, the thickness of the wood being about 20mm (3/4 in); together with a number of pegs about 38mm (1 1/2 in)long and 6mm (1/4 in) in thickness. By increasing the length of these pegs, however, the work may be made more open and a greater amount of light be admitted. These being provided, the circumference of each oval must be pierced with six holes, about 6mm (1/4 in) in depth, and of just the size to admit the pegs. The proper direction in which these holes should be bored, and also the manner in which the pegs are fitted in, you can see in next image, from which illustration the whole principle of constructing these oriental lattices may be seen at a glance.

 

Oval shape oriental lattice work - Constructing principle
 

 

Upon this principle are constructed all the different patterns shown in next images, the variety depending entirely upon the form of the pieces of wood used, and the angles at which the connecting pegs are fitted in. On the next image, the pattern is varied by using flat oblong forms placed alternately vertical and horizontal; while by substituting oval forms for the oblong, another variety would be obtained.
 
Oblong shape oriental lattice work
 
In short, there is scarcely any limit to the variety of patterns which may be produced in this kind of work.

Some ingenuity and patience will, doubtless, be required in putting together these lattice-work patterns, and fitting them in their frames, but when this is accomplished, the effect is very striking. As regards strength, this oriental latticing is much stronger than would be imagined; but the size of each compartment ought to be adapted to the strength of the pattern intended to fill it. It will also be best when any extent of this work has to be done, to treat the different compartments as window sashes, and to fit each one into a general frame-work of uprights and cross-rails, for the sake of support to the whole, and to give also the opportunity of "hanging" some compartments to open as doors or windows.

Besides the normal use of this lattice-work for casements, it is also employed to divide off portions of large rooms where partial privacy is desired, as in refreshment shops. In Andalusia I have seen an imitation of this kind of work in which the pattern was made by saw-piercing thin wood.

There are many reasons which lead me to believe that the method of making lattice-work that I have described above will be acceptable to amateur wood-workers; and the chief of these is that in this country there is found so very little variety in lattice-work, or trellis-work, as it is commonly called. This consists, for the most part, of flat laths set at regular and uniform distances from each other, and crossing one another at various ( angles, according to the pleasure of the maker, being pinned together at each crossing by a wire nail, which is clenched in order to keep the contiguous laths in close contact. Now although trellis-work of this kind is strong, and, comparatively speaking, easily made, it is monotonous in its appearance, especially where there is much of it, and requires relief. It is true that when it is overlaid with climbing plants the trellis is partially, if not entirely, hidden from view, and this just at the time of year when it is most likely to come under notice. There are, however, many garden structures in which the trellised parts remain exposed to view all the year round, and for these, and for all trellised doors, which afford ample scope for the introduction of novel forms and patterns for panels, the oriental style of making lattice is both applicable and desirable.

Much of it may be fashioned in the lathe, as, for example, the pattern consisting of balls of wood and pegs in the form of double cones, set base to base, with the apex of each pointing in a different direction, as shown in next image.
 
Ball shape oriental lattice work