Making and Knowing
A minimal edition of BnF Ms Fr 640 in English Translation

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Casting a crayfish

The crayfish is one of the most fantastical to cast, but also provides an example for casting other difficult things. You can distinguish males and female by the eggs that the females carry, and by the four little white back legs that males have in their tails after behind main eight legs. It is good to dry them out a bit so that the bumps come out more hard and beautiful, because none of what is made of shell shrinks. It is true that should you dry the little inside legs for too long, they become diminished and have no body. If they are too dry, the flesh separates from the scales. Be sure then to maintain the mean. They have certain hairs between the legs and at the end of the tail. And because all hair is difficult to cast, because it gets mixed up in the sand and does not release, you can burn it by putting a hot iron on the crayfish so that it the hair cannot be seen. As for animals that have hair or feathers, you must grease the hair with wheat oil, which is very dry and which will make the hair lay flat and straight. In this way, you will have form of your animal and you will have the hair. Should it the hair be wavy, it can be repaired. If your crayfish has eggs, which are delicate, and which will be difficult to take out of the mold without breaking, you would do better to make the first cast with the crayfish on its belly and eggs. In this way, you will open the mold with it the crayfish on its back, which will be hard and easy to manipulate. And the belly and the eggs will remain in the mold. And rather than opening your mold for the second time, you will have to burn it with them in it. This way, it will open easily, and what has been burned will come away cleanly. In this way, the second casting, which is done on the first one that has successfully taken hold, separates easily from the first, after having been refired. This is a singular secret for similar moldings.

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The casting is made by the very thin tail.

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If some little thing is missing, you can reattach it or else fill it with goldsmith’s cement.

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Do not forget to rub with spirits before you mold.

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Stag beetles, crayfish and crabs are molded in the same way.

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If your crayfish has no eggs, mold the back on top and the belly on the bottom. You can give it some.

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It the crayfish can be molded hollow for the body, but not for the legs. And for a good result, take note that the crayfish is rather fantastical to mold hollow, this ought to be reserved for turtles.

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When you open your mold, you will find the crayfish has white bones, but they will not be powder. And without opening it, the mercury will not have affected the process.

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Apply very light oil colors.

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To paint it, boil it with wine and a bit of salt so that they become very red and use this as a model. Paint the back with vermillion mixed with laquer, and the sides and the underside of the belly and the legs with vermillion and yellow ochre and white.

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Let your crayfish dry a little in the sun, by itself. If it has spawns, they will shrink while drying, and be all the more beautiful for it. Make your paste out of yellow potter’s earth, just like for the other representations. Lay your crayfish on it, the back side down, and the other parts which are more tricky to mold —— legs, belly, eggs — side up. Drive in the back side in the clay paste up to the legs, which is about the half part of the crayfish’s body. Fix the body with a pointy iron thread in the middle and, if you feel you need it, you can also drive another one at the edge of the tail. And in order that the big legs be lower than the head, which is lower because it is linked from below, add a little clay under the head. Then add a bit of clay under the jacket in order to raise it. Hide the feelers under the clay and under the crusher claws, then arrange it as you like. Stretch out the walking legs to the joints, and for the first cast, bend the second part of the walking legs. Fix the joints of the legs with wax and a warm wire so they will not move. If you want to mould something fancier, fix the end of one walking legs on the body or on a crusher claw , using the same wax. If the female has spawns, bent half the tail over the spawns, and keep the shape by fixing the tail with a wire. Be sure that you will be able to clean this part. Finally rub your crayfish with spirits, and cast your sand. Once the sand is hardened, uncover the back side, the head, the eyes, and the small legs close to the crusher claws, and the walking legs all along. One must uncover these parts as much as possible. Then bend and cover the spawns again. The other animals

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Fix what may raise the two padded edges on each side of the mouth with melted wax under them.

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Uncover as many parts as possible, but be sure the channels you make are well stripped.

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Incline your mould to the thickest side of the animal.

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To paint the crayfish, one paints the middle of the back with vermilion, mixed with a bit of lacquer. The sides, the belly, and below the legs with a mixture made of vermilion, ceruse, and a bit of yellow ochre. As with all things, always keep the real one in front of you in order to copy it as realistically as possible.

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Lay the feelers on the crusher claws, or solder this part with a wire made of bleached brass.

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When you arrange the legs, be sure that they do not get over the belly, and that they are well set against the belly otherwise [illegible]

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are not so uncovered. But since crayfish are troublesome to burn & clean, you have to uncover them as much as you can, even the little legs just until the tips, because they are troublesome & if, in order to not alter them, you have to take them out, you could break something of the mold. Having uncovered it with the point of a knife, like an engraving stick or another fitting thing, clean off the sand at the joints & elsewhere with your little brush really very scrupulously. And if something is loosed from the crayfish, attach it with wax, as is discussed. And also attach the horns this way. And also do the casting the length of the extremes of the little legs with wax. And refill the holes that have been made with the needles of iron wire with it. And everything being quite clean & having uncovered more than half of it, oil your mold after having soaked the back side in water, & do not forget to oil all the fine parts that are between the legs and the little beaks; then rub the crayfish with spirits. And do your second casting after having made the first mold even, so that the cramp—irons join better. Your mold must be larger on the side with the impression than on the back. Do not open your mold after the second casting, so that it not become clayed & reheated & that which is inside not be burned. Do not forget to mix crocum throughout your sand when you mold the crayfish, because you must really reheat it & the crocum withstands this marvelously. To mold a crab & to mold a crayfish are exactly the same. When you have uncovered your crayfish on one side do not delay at all before doing the second casting, because crayfish dry out. It is not enough to uncover the crayfish such that you see the whole half the half you uncover, but take heed that your mold, even when you are uncovering, be good and stripped, because if the crayfish gets well burnt, you will not be able to open your mold without breaking it.

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Restore it with a pen knife, little chisels, or engraving sticks.

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As you see here, but a wax casting all around & at the end of the tail, where you will do the principal casting, two or three more.

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Make the casting with candle wax shaped in a thread like a large packthread, the whole length from the end of the claws to the extremity of the tail. If there is also some claw end or other part that is extended past the rank of the others or is raised up higher or turned up all alone, make a wax casting for it from its end just barely not joined to the body or to one of the large claws or to some other place where lots of metal will be wedged in.

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Having uncovered it, attach & secure the two little bearded horns of the crayfish, and anything else that is not secured, with wax.