The Wallpaper History Society

The Wallpaper History Society based in England has a few announcements:
It is with deepest sadness that we inform our members that Merryl Huxtable, a founding member of the Wallpaper History Society, died October 16th 2010.  Merryl was a Senior Paper Conservator at the V&A. She specialized in works of art on paper and parchment.  A much loved colleague and friend, Merryl will be very deeply missed.
They would also like to make it known that they now accept Paypal for subscriptions to the Society, which includes your very own copy of the excellent international-in-scope Wallpaper History Review edited by Christine Woods. Go to this page for more info:

For those who don't know:

Founded in 1986, the Wallpaper History Society was established to promote an awareness and understanding of historic and contemporary wallcoverings. Our scope is broad and encompasses not only the history of wallpapers but also topics relating to other types of wallcoverings, the subject of interior decoration as a whole and the increasing role which digital technology plays in design.
The study of wallcoverings was traditionally seen as rather esoteric, of interest only to specialist researchers and enthusiasts. But in the mid-1980s, articles on period decoration began to feature regularly in journals and magazines and it became clear that a much larger audience had developed an interest in the subject. Even so, information about, for example, the manufacture, design and location of historic and contemporary patterns could still be hard to obtain. The Wallpaper History Society was founded to help answer questions of this kind by developing both a network of sources and ways in which information could be made accessible.
The Society aims to encourage research and provide information on all aspects of wallpaper design, production and consumption, to foster an awareness of the importance of preserving period decorations, and to provide a much needed point of contact for all the different groups and individuals interested in these issues.

German Wallpaper

Here's an interesting wallpaper site:

Herr Lutz J. Walter has been blockprinting for quite some time now and has completed reproduction papers for Friedrich Schiller's house (or should I say haus), and many more in Weimar. What makes Lutz's work especially interesting is that he not only does 18th century blocks, as one would expect, but also has ventured into the stuffed-felt brass work of 19th century cylinder printing. He has even done Art Nouveau and Bauhaus wallpapers. I worked with Lutz many years ago when Bernard Jacque suggested that  he could probably find an old-fashioned pile of machinery in the former East Germany that could polish a ground.....sure enough, he found it!

Below are some photos:

Decorative Japanese Paper For Screens, c. 1897

Received a paper query from my conservator friend from Newport, RI, Alexandra Allardt (

Friends of hers are now the proud owners of a c. 1897 Ralph Adams Cram house built in a Japanese style in Fall River, MA. Many photos and a write-up are at this site, but make sure you're sitting down, this one is waaaaay over the top!

The new owners are renovating bit by bit and uncovered some interesting paper which appears to be original to the house. The paper involved is not really wallpaper, as we shall see, but it's close enough to make me want to know more.

The story of the discovery is a bit complicated. The  image shown below is the third layer down.

The outermost (most recent) decorative layer on the walls of one room was a grasscloth put on all walls in the 1960's (?); underneath was an early hardboard/sheetrock substrate covered in this same fabric, but more faded. Taking off this hardboard, they found fabric in better shape (the image you see above). But, this paper/muslin sandwich was not mounted on a solid frame, but on sliding screens.
Essentially, (deep breath), it is a stretched muslin covered with laminate of a fine paper substrate topped with dried botanical elements and real butterfly wings surmounted by a fine silky gauze top layer. These muslin/paper decorations cover 8 screens that slide across compartments in a built-in wall cabinet. The dimensions of the screens are as follows:

4 screens  are 25.5” H x  14.5” W with 3/8” fold over the edges.
4 screens are 13 5/8” H x 7” W with 3/8” fold over the edges

The muslin has been stapled to a stretcher made from ¾” bars,  then the paper layer appears to have been glued to the muslin (along the edge there are staples under the paper).  The paper appears to be continuous and not made from sheets. It is tissue-thin and smooth, but scattered nondirectional embedded fibers  provide texture. The gauze corner folds which neatly cover the underlying  corner muslin/paper folds suggest  that the gauze is applied last.  Perhaps one was allowed to choose the gauze color and/or the materials to be sandwiched. The discolorations in the image above are corroded  “gold” metal flakes.  There are also silver-colored flakes that are not corroded and which retain a silver color and bright reflectance.  

 One panel has a decidedly greenish tint.

The butterflies are real wings with printed paper bodies.  The botanicals are pressed ginkos, ferns and 3-leaf clover leaves. The base is a fine lightweight muslin over which a tissue weight paper is adhered.  The butterflies and leave are pressed but not adhered to the paper.  The plain weave fine gauze, suggestive of silk, is lightly adhered over the specimen. 

The next photo shows the effect of transmitted light.

Alex speculates that " looks to me as though you would buy the base muslin and paper botanical as a unit and then choose the color of the gauze.  The muslin/paper/botanic unit looks as if it were pasted to the edges of the stretcher….along the lines of a traditional screen making technique….as it dries it stretches nice and tight.  It seems to have been applied separate from the gauze  as the gauze is shorter than the muslin and goes over the muslin corner folds. As a unit it is  stretched over a ¾” deep stretcher.  These are all inserts into sliding windows…..imagine a small screen (shoji screens)...

...the house is unusual  in Cram's work in that it is a residence and early in his career. I think that the paper must have been brushed with an adhesive (maybe an alum) and then the gauze must have been damp when applied and stretched over the surface as it does not seem to be stuck to the butterflies but is stuck to the paper around the butterflies, securing them in position. The wall cabinet has funky Japanese shelves for display of dust collectors or maybe ikebana. The original owners were American missionaries in Japan. When they came home they had this house crafted for them."


Has anyone encountered these delicacies, or do you know about any sources to learn more about them?

Are there any ideas where the real stuff or interpretations of the real stuff can be found these days?

Thank you for your paper support!  


p.s., there is not much written about Chinese and Japanese papers used domestically in the early 20th century, but one online article is linked below:

House & Garden, Volume 33, Issue 2 - Volume 34, Issue 4 (Google eBook) (1918), "Oriental Papers For Occidental Walls" by Costen Fitz-Gibbon.


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