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Images from an article about an unusual form of sculpture, found in a 1910 issue of American Homes and Gardens magazine

David Goran

In December 1910, American Homes And Gardens magazine featured an article by Harold J Shepstone entitled “The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling“. Through reading it you will learn how to make “Artistic Table Decorations From The Rind of The Christmas Fruit”.

IT IS surprising what can be done with the conventional orange in the way of converting it into an artistic table ornament.

Fig. 1 shows the initial stage in making four slits at right angles from the top, but not quite to the bottom of the peel, beneath which the thumb is inserted to separate them from the body of the fruit.

Fig. 1 shows the initial stage in making four slits at right angles from the top, but not quite to the bottom of the peel, beneath which the thumb is inserted to separate them from the body of the fruit.

 

Fig. 2 shows how thin strips are cut from the sides of the four main sections, which are cut again from the top to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top, alternately, so as to form one continuous strip of small leaves, that with gentle pulling will lengthen into a goodly strip of peel.

Fig. 2 shows how thin strips are cut from the sides of the four main sections, which are cut again from the top to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top, alternately, so as to form one continuous strip of small leaves, that with gentle pulling will lengthen into a goodly strip of peel.

 

Fig. 3 shows how the strips can be converted into all kinds of artistic effects.

Fig. 3 shows how the strips can be converted into all kinds of artistic effects.

 

Fig. 4 shows four plaited bands which are easily made though care has to be exercised so that the chain will not break.

Fig. 4 shows four plaited bands which are easily made though care has to be exercised so that the chain will not break.

 

Fig. 5 shows a fancy piece of carving in the form of a Japanese house-boat and is more difficult to make than the preceding designs.

Fig. 5 shows a fancy piece of carving in the form of a Japanese house-boat and is more difficult to make than the preceding designs.

Indeed, an almost endless variety of charming and delightful novelties can be created by the careful manipulation of the peel of this common fruit. Nor can the art of ornamental orange-peeling be described as difficult, and a few self-taught lessons will quickly convince one that here at least, is a unique opportunity for displaying novelty, taste, and skill in the way of decorating the Christmas table with an appropriate fruit. The tools required are of the simplest — a well-sharpened pen or fruit knife and a few small bits of wood, about the size of matches, the latter being needed to keep the peel in the desired place.

Fig. 6 represents a crown with the greater part of the fruit left bare while the crown is carved out of the peel at the top.

Fig. 6 represents a crown with the greater part of the fruit left bare while the crown is carved out of the peel at the top.

 

Fig. 7 shows the human face, which is quite a simple design to make, and the only parts added are the ears.

Fig. 7 shows the human face, which is quite a simple design to make, and the only parts added are the ears.

 

Fig. 8 is a representation of loaves of bread and cake, and is made by careful peeling

Fig. 8 is a representation of loaves of bread and cake, and is made by careful peeling

 

Fig. 9 represents the carving of a pig, which is realistic in the results attained.

Fig. 9 represents the carving of a pig, which is realistic in the results attained.

 

Fig. 10 shows a realistic and a life-like design in the carving of a serpent which is made by the pulling away of the strips after they have been cut.

Fig. 10 shows a realistic and a life-like design in the carving of a serpent which is made by the pulling away of the strips after they have been cut.

Any kind of orange will do though it is as well to select those of medium skins. Having secured the oranges and the tools we now proceed to convert the skins of the fruit into artistic articles for the adornment of the table, or for the amusement of our friends. Here I cannot do better than to describe how the various creations seen in the accompanying photographs were made. 

Fig. 11 shows oranges peeled in a similar manner to Fig. 10 and placed on receptacles.

Fig. 11 shows oranges peeled in a similar manner to Fig. 10 and placed on receptacles.

 

Fig. 12 presents a treatment of the orange similar to Fig. 11, but in a more elaborate manner.

Fig. 12 presents a treatment of the orange similar to Fig. 11, but in a more elaborate manner.

 

Fig. 13 shows a pyramidal centerpiece for a table decoration.

Fig. 13 shows a pyramidal centerpiece for a table decoration.

 

Fig. 14 shows another table decoration in a manner similar to the preceding design but massed in greater form.

Fig. 14 shows another table decoration in a manner similar to the preceding design but massed in greater form.

 

Fig. 15 shows the third picture of the pyramid and its progress.

Fig. 15 shows the third picture of the pyramid and its progress.

All of these designs will be found fairly simple.

In the case of the crown, it will be noticed that the greater portion of the fruit is left bear. First of all a number of leaves or strips were cut to form the base of the design. Then the remainder of the rind was peeled away with the exception of a narrow strip at the top…

Oranges peeled in the above manner and placed on suitable receptacles under a small square of white or colored fancy paper, form very effective and pretty decorations for any table.

 

All photos: The Smithsonian Libraries