Glittering Hidden Treasure

You never know what is hiding behind later wall finishes in a historic house. This Victorian era wallpaper has been exposed while removing gypsum board (sheetrock) that was installed over it decades ago. Note the application of mica (isinglass) particles creating a reflective surface as part of the pattern. This treatment on wallpaper dates to the mid-18th century and continued through much of the 19th century. Before the introduction of electric lighting, reflective surfaces were popular for the additional light they provided to rooms lit by candles or oil lamps.

Surviving historic wallpaper is rarely in great condition but reproducing it is a possibility. Traditionally the options for repro wallpaper have been wood-block printing and screen printing – both labor intensive and expensive. Digital printing has added a third option that can be less expensive, depending on the degree of digital restoration needed to prepare the design for printing.

All three methods are explored and shown in Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners. The 720-page hardcover volume is now in stores and available from online retailers.

Signed copies are available directly from the author on this site.

Your local bookstore can order copies from their W.W. Norton rep.

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