dutchman

1. In theatrical scenery terms, a 3-8" strip of fabric used to conceal seams between flats. Normally, it is first soaked in a mixture of wood glue and water (in olden times, wheat paste). The excess is then squeezed out and then the strip is applied to the flat covering the seam.

2. In general carpentry, any sort of surface-applied patch to mask a defect. Alleged origin: the Dutch people, being of a frugal nature, would patch an item with a small surface defect.

Unabashedly purloined from the Stagecraft Mailing List:
Subject: Dutching flats - History 101
From: Michael Powers <[email protected]>

Dutching flats, many ways, all are correct for different situations.
My personal favorite works best on mus covered flats, hard or soft.
paint the area where the dutchman will go, feather the edges, pull two
or three threads to fray the dutchman strip edge, paint the rear of
the mus dutch strip with the final brush strokes running center to
edge to straighten out the fray edges. Flip the strip and put the two
wet faces together. Now starting at the center more or less, paint the
dutchman face, feathering the paint as you work out to the surface of
the flat. Voila! Perfect dutchman.

In the 19th and early twentieth century, touring shows and shows
moving from shops to Broadway used gelatin glue to put the dutchmen
down. The strip could then be carefully peeled off and rolled up to
re-apply at the next stop.

While writing my thesis about stone age stagecraft (when it was still
State-Of-The-Art!) one of my thesis committee members decided that I
was using the wrong verb form of the word. He insisted that "to
dutch" was correct and "to dutchman" was incorrect. Another member
disagreed. So, it took about 4 years of search and research, no
internet, www or personal computers back then! To find the correct
form, I had to find the origin of the term. Turns out, somewhere in
the 1700's there was a famine of sorts in the lowlands and a large
number of dutch moved to England. English workmen still used full
wall, wattle and plaster to finish walls and every wall had to be
completed in one work session, while the dutch had developed a form of
dry wall for difficult areas and to join areas worked on at separate
times. For nooks and crannies and specially formed areas, they would
apply a plaster and straw mix to a plank and then apply a thin smooth
slip coat over that. when set, they would put the plank in place and
using linen strips dipped in very wet plaster, cover the joints(the
birth of trowel and tape!). The English workmen derided the practice
(until they discovered how much faster and accurate it was) and coined
the term "Dutchman" to mean poor workmanship or either the act or the
material, of covering up poor workmanship. The research proved rather
interesting and I suspect that was actually the reason for the initial
dispute, as the end result showed that either of the forms of the word
were correct.

--
Michael
Michael Powers, Project Manager
Central Lighting & Equipment Inc.

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