Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wallpaper, old and new-old

After finishing the inside of the DH/D, I turned my attention to my Battlement House. This house is the abode of an antiquarian's daughter (and possibly the antiquarian, when he is home from his explorations).

To start with, I placed the furniture I've been collecting for it, in the room which will be the antiquarian's study, along with the carpet, pieces of printed out wallpaper, and some antiquities from the antiquarian's collections.

(The wallpaper is a 1918 design by C. F. A. Voysey, which I've reproduced from an illustration in an old Past Times pocket diary.)

Then, I decided that I would remove the electric light switches. They're very large, and date from about the 1920s, so if I ever use the lights in this house, I'll get it rewired.

Underneath the switch by the fireplace is a fragment of earlier wallpaper. It looks like green and grey diamonds on a buff background.

So, now - do I try to remove the paint from the walls and see if there are more fragments? I'm not sure how I would get the paint off - I suspect scraping would just bring up the top, printed layer of the paper with the paint, and leave, if anything, just fibres from the buff coloured paper itself. I think this paper is the same date as the lights - it matches the colour of the lampshade in this room - so it's probably not the original wallpaper. It's still old, and I'll try to protect it somehow so that if someone removes the wallpaper I put in, this fragile bit of paper doesn't come off with it.


  1. rebecca,
    the paper you've chosen is really perfect. I'm afraid, you will be disappointed, if you try to remove the whole painting to find a few chips of paper. The paper has probably been removed, and it remained only a very little part under the wires, because it couldn't be removed from there.

  2. looking closely at your picture, maybe the paper has been overpainted, it's possible. But how to remove the painting, I have no idea.

  3. Hi Bea, thank you, I'm glad you think the new wallpaper will work in this room!
    I think you are right, that I would find very little of the old wallpaper. I can see the woodgrain through the paint on some parts of the walls, but on other parts, I think there may be something there. It's mainly curiosity on my part, to know more about what it looked like before. So either I'll experiment, and try to remove the paint but not the paper, or I'll just be lazy, and put the new paper over the paint. I am glad I found this fragment, though!

  4. I love that color green. Is it what they called "poison green" in the 40's. I remember that fireplace from your first postings of it on flickr. CM

  5. Lynne the LurkerJuly 5, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    That is the most amazing mantle and fireplace. And I quite liked the old switches, but I can see why you decided to remove them.

  6. Hi CM, which green looks like "poison green"? It's an interesting name, don't think I've heard it before!

    Hi Lynne, it is amazing, isn't it? An identical one (well, minus the silver paint) is in an 1825 dolls house, so it's quite old!
    I like the switches too, and I'll be keeping them with the house. Not sure whether I'll remove them from every room, but probably from beside the fireplace in the room above this - in case there are fragments of wallpaper there too! I'll have to make sure I leave enough of the wiring that the ceiling lights are still secure - I'm definitely keeping the lampshades!

  7. Lynne the LurkerJuly 6, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    Poison Green was one of those 'fashionable' colours that really only held its meaning during the period it was all the rage. Hot pink and burnt orange are other colours that had similiar fates, though hot pink has managed to linger. I can't think of the last time I heard someone refer to burnt orange, it is called terracotta now, I think.

    I am a language geek, if you haven't all ready guessed it. :)

  8. I don't know what's happening with the comments function at the moment, but several comments that were here yesterday have disappeared, and two comments won't publish. I'll try to publish them by pasting them in a comment of my own - but that may disappear too!

  9. Callsmall wrote:

    The wallpaper you chose is perfect - really lovely. I love how from afar you cannot necessarily tell there is an animal as the pattern -- it looks abstract until you come closer! I can tell you from experience that it is a slow and perilous process to scrape off overpainting in the hopes of revealing original papers. I have been doing this with my large VERO with mixed success. It is very challenging and time consuming. I wish you the best, whatever you choose!

  10. Florine wrote:

    I love your choice of wallpaper AND carpet...and the lions on the hearth. I hope you don't wait too long to tell us about the wonderful furniture you have selected for this room...

  11. Nice coincidence to see the wallpaper you chose. I have just returned home from another holiday, this time to Denmark, where we the last day visited a large zoo where we drove on a "safari" in our car behind closed windows to see the lions and other wild animals safely.

    I really like the wallpaper, the pattern fits the ornaments in the wonderful fireplace perfectly, and like callsmall I think it's nice that it looks like an abstract pattern from afar!

    I love the little fragment of paint and papers on the wall surrounding the cut wires. From a distance it looks like great piece of modern art!

  12. O, and I forgot, poison green is a common used expression in Norwegian too; "giftiggrønn", but I have never been quite sure what kind of green it is, just that it is a very strong colour.

  13. I've just looked up 'poison green', and found an interesting blogpost about it by a quilt historian:
    Her first link has a nice Victorian print with a woman in a poison green dress - the ink for the green colour was a copper-arsenic salt!

  14. Oh, that was interesting, thanks for looking it up and for sharing the background story of the colour! Copper-arsenic salt and toxic clothes, it still amazes me what women are willing to wear or do to look good!

  15. Hi Callsmall, thanks! Since I know what the design of the wallpaper is, I didn't see it as abstract from a distance until you pointed it out. It's good to have other eyes looking at things from another perspective.
    If I do scrape off any paint, I will think of you as I do it! Still dithering between curiosity and impatience to have it done...

  16. Hi Florine, thank you! I actually bought the carpet material for another room, but it turned out not to suit the wallpaper for that room as much as this one - and I like the stripey markings in it, a bit like animal skin.
    I don't have much information on the wooden furniture, as the seller didn't know much. I bought it from UK ebay, from a seller in Lancashire, who thought it was homemade. The desk I will show you more of soon!

  17. Hi Helene, what a coincidence - you've just seen live lions and I have them all over the walls of the room and in front of the fireplace! I wanted something a bit fantastic to go with this fireplace, and I was glad when I found this design in my 1996 pocket diary - the lions go with the sphynxes, and the colour of the palm leaves goes with the light shade :-)

  18. Hi Rebecca,

    This is my favorite of all your houses so far. I can't wait to see it all finished and set up as an antiquarian's retreat...and that fireplace: wow!