University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Paterson,   pp. 222-236

Page 236

John Jewett & Sons' Floor Cloth Works,
At Elizabeth, N. J., are among the largest of the kind in the United
States. Nearly three acres of ground are covered with buildings, the
principal ones being, respectively, two hundred and twenty-five by
seventy-five, and one hundred and twenty-five by forty feet; and the
drying-rooms are seventy-five by eighty feet. In the manufacture of
heavy oil-cloths, a large capital, as well as large buildings, is required
for several months elapse before the products can be thoroughly
dried and prepared for market.  The raw material used is canvas,
imported from Scotland, in sheets sometimes a hundred yards
long. From   these, pieces are cut, of the required size, and then
stretched upon substantial, upright wooden frames, each separated
from the next by a space of a few feet. Ladders and platforms are
conveniently arranged, to afford access to every part of the cloth.
When strained, and well secured to the frame, an application of a
solution of glue size is made to the back of the canvas with a brush,
and then rubbed smooth with pumice stone.    When this is dry, a
coating of paint, of linseed oil and ochre, is laid on, by means of steel
trowels, which are sometimes two and a half feet in length. In the
course of two weeks, this becomes dry, and a second coat is applied.
In the meanwhile, similar operations have been going on the face of
the cloth, no less than three coats of paint being applied with the
trowel ; and, finally, a fourth coat is laid on with a brush, which is
intended to form the groundwork of the design, to be afterward
printed. For the best cloth, two and threomonths are required to
complete these operations, and the materials laid on, amount to nearly
three times the weight of the canvas. A piece of oil-cloth, twenty-
four by one hundred feet, will weigh nearly a ton. The heavy pieces
are received from the frames upon rollers, set upright, and are conveyed
to the printing-room, where they are laid upon a table, and drawn
along as fast as the printing, upon the portions in advance, progresses.
The printing is accomplished by blocks of pine wood, faced with pear-
tree, and engraved, each one, to print all those parts of the patterns
which are in one color, the portions corresponding to the other colors
being cut away. As many blocks are applied in succession, therefore,
as there are colors to be printed, the operations being much the same
as that described in printing wall-papers by hand, or in calico printing.
Messrs. John Jewett & Sons employ, in these works, about sixty
men, and produce, annually, about three hundred and fifty thousand
yards of Floor Cloth.

Go up to Top of Page