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A new/old word: kalsomining

I cam across the following little article in the Hannibal Clipper, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library's website.

The Robert Robinson mentioned in the article is my great-uncle, twin brother of my great-grandfather. The article mentions "kalsomining" at the Big Creek Church at Rensselaer in 1877. Read on to find out what "kalsomining" is.

Hannibal Clipper


Rensselaer items

We are already beginning to see the fruits of the ladies’ meetings that have been held during the past few weeks, for the purpose of fixing up the church. Mr. Robert Robinson has just finished a beautiful job of kalsomining and window frosting. We hope to see the new carpet down and the entire work completed by the coming Sunday.

Kalsomining parlor walls 1870

The March 1870 issue of manufacturer and Builder explained how to do this.

IT is a popular error to believe that the materials for kalsomining are very expensive, and also that few men have sufficient skill to apply the liquid even after it has been properly prepared. For this reason, people are frequently deceived into paying exorbitant prices for this kind of work. The materials employed are good clear glue, Paris white, and water. Paris white is sold here in New-York City and Brooklyn for two to three cents per pound. itinerant kalsominers frequently charge twenty-five cents per pound, as “they use nothing but the genuine silver polish, which is scarce, and very expensive.” In case the wall of a large room, say sixteen by twenty feet square, is to be kalsomined with two coats, it will require about one fourth of a pound of light- colored glue and five or six pounds of Paris white. Soak the glue overnight, in a tin vessel containing about a quart of warm water. If the kalsomnine is to be applied the next day, add a pint more of clean water to the glue, and set the tin vessel containing the glue into a kettle of boilng water over the fire, and continue to stir the glue until it is well dissolved and quite thin. If the glue-pail be placed in a kettle of boiling water, the glue will not be scorched. Then, after putting the Paris white into a large water-pail, pour on hot water, and stir it until the liquid appears like thick milk. Now mingle the glue-liquid with the whiting, stir it thoroughly, and apply it to the wall with a whitewash-brush, or with a large paint-brush. It is of little consequence what kind of an instrument is employed in laying on the kalsomine, provided the liquid is spread smoothly. Expensive brushes, made expressly for kalsomining, may be obtained at brush-factories, and at some drug and hardware stores. But a good whitewash-brush, having long and thick hair, will do very well. In case the liquid is so thick that it will not flow from the brush so as to make smooth work, add a little more hot water. When applying the kalsomine, stir it frequently. Dip the brush often, and only so deep in the liquid as to take as much as the hair will retain without letting large drops fall to the floor. If too much glue be added, the kalsomine can not be laid on smoothly, and will be liable to crack. The aim should be to apply a thin layer of sizing that can not be brushed off with a broom or dry cloth. A thin coat will not crack.

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