Peeling Back the Layers of Time — WALLPAPER

IMG_1646

Binders full of hun­dreds of plastic-sleeved wall­pa­per frag­ments revealed dur­ing the restora­tion can be found in our stor­age area.

This week’s topic in our “Peel­ing Back the Lay­ers” series looks at some of the incred­i­ble wall­pa­per that has graced the walls of Camp­bell House since its con­struc­tion in 1851.

When the museum began its exten­sive restora­tion project in 2000, great care was taken to pre­serve any­thing and every­thing that was found in walls, under floor­boards, and under lay­ers of paint and wall­pa­per.  Everything—from large orig­i­nal doors and win­dows to the small­est scrap of faded wall­pa­per was saved and is pre­served for future study here at Camp­bell House.  Our climate-controlled archives room is chock-full of binders and boxes con­tain­ing all of these fragments.

Over time, wall­pa­per itself has faded in and out of style and, along with this, lots of dif­fer­ent designs saw peaks in pop­u­lar­ity.  The first thing a lot of us think of when think of wall­pa­per might be some­thing like you see to the right.

Random internet picture of terrible wallpaper.

Ran­dom inter­net pic­ture of ter­ri­ble wallpaper.

Yikes, right?  Have no fear—our wall­pa­per is way more inter­est­ing than Grandma’s din­ing room.

Like the linoleum we talked about a cou­ple of weeks ago, we found quite a few lay­ers of wall­pa­per­ing when we began the restoration.

After uncov­er­ing all of these nifty scraps, we began the process of recre­at­ing wall­pa­pers and inte­ri­ors that matched the orig­i­nals, which was an enor­mous project, read more about that and see some neat pic­tures of us at work dur­ing the restora­tion after the break—

Here’s a taste of what we have in our wall­pa­per collection:

IMG_1582

Circa 1870 wall­pa­per from CHM’s 3rd floor sit­ting room, still attached to plaster.

IMG_1586

Wall­pa­per bor­der rem­nant from the sec­ond floor of the Car­riage House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1590

Wall­pa­per sam­ples found in the sec­ond floor ser­vants hall with a “felt board” back­ing, dat­ing from the early 20th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 IMG_1611

Circa 1860 wall­pa­per bor­der frag­ment found in the third floor stair­well. The bor­der accented an unusu­ally large pat­terned Ash­lar paper—designed to look like fin­ished brick or stone. See the cur­rent iter­a­tion of Ash­lar paper found today at Camp­bell House below. 

 

photo (6)

Ash­lar block wall­pa­per on the walls at Camp­bell House today– installed in the early 2000s dur­ing our restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1655

Block flo­ral motif pat­tern found under the crown mold­ing in the ser­vants hall and out­side the sec­ond floor bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1622

Bor­der paper frag­ment found in Mrs. Kyle’s room behind man­tle facade dat­ing from the 1860s– this likely pre­dated the many exten­sive struc­tural addi­tions and improve­ments that the Camp­bells made to their home over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1667

Wall­pa­per frag­ment found on the west wall of CHM’s library. This was found behind a divid­ing wall, mean­ing it dates from before the 1880s and was installed by Robert and Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall­pa­per Restoration

After uncov­er­ing all of those neat his­tor­i­cal pieces of wall­pa­per, we began the process of re-papering with spe­cially designed spot-on recre­ations of what orig­i­nally hung on the Camp­bells’ walls.  This was quite the process—wallpapering in the 1880s was noth­ing like what it is today.

Wall­pa­per had to be recre­ated through color analy­sis and pho­tos of the var­i­ous rooms that were taken in the 1880s, when it arrived it came in rolls like this:

 IMG_1693

The wall­pa­per came rolled in 30 inch-wide strips.  How­ever, the design was only on 19 inches of the strip, which meant our installers had to hand cut the edges of the wall­pa­per and pay extra spe­cial atten­tion to make sure edges matched up once the paper was pasted to the walls.

IMG_1689

 

All of the wall­pa­pers used in our restora­tion were custom-designed to match orig­i­nal wall­pa­pers found in the house dur­ing the 19th cen­tury by spe­cialty design firms.

 

IMG_1698

 

The end prod­uct: the entire wall of the Campbell’s mas­ter bed­room is cov­ered with indi­vid­ual strips that had to be hand-cut and then pasted into place.

 

 

So that sounds like quite the project, right?  Well things got even cra­zier with the com­plex wall­pa­per and bor­der design found in Mrs. Kyle’s bed­room.  Like the green lily wall­pa­per seen above, the Japanese-inspired wall­pa­per for this project came in small strips that had to be hand-trimmed.

152_5244

What made this room extra tricky, though, was the bor­der that had to be sliced off the top of the roll, pasted, and reassem­bled by hand into a com­plex design on the ceil­ing and around the tops of the walls.

152_5246

Red and gold trim along the top of the wall­pa­per had to be cut off.

153_5359

Our crafts­man del­i­cately past­ing the cut-off sliv­ers of wall­pa­per into a box-design on the ceiling.

 

 

 

 

 

158_5888

The final product.

Check out the pic­tures below for some more exam­ples of wall­pa­per­ing that was done dur­ing our restoration:

LucyKyle

Mrs. Kyle’s sec­ond floor bedroom

Dining-Room

Din­ing room

Servant-1

Head housekeeper’s sec­ond floor bedroom

Library

Third floor library