W.1990.4.71

Artisanal Designer Wallpapers

Despite the art establishment’s lingering suspicion of decorative values (considering light-weight by association with applied arts or craft) artists since William Morris have enjoyed working decoratively, designing across the applied arts including wallpaper. In the UK, 20th century block printers Edward Bawden and more recently Peggy Angus spawned a generation of artisinal designer-printers reviving the tradition of small-scale wallpaper manufacture. Hugh Dunford Wood, Katie Morris and Jo Rock were all trained by Peggy Angus, producing 2 colour patterns by hand printing lino blocks with emulsion paint. Papers printed by this process have a lively, textured surface, whereas those by Marthe Armitage and Cameron Short, working in Bawden’s illustrative vein, are more finely detailed and require printing by hand press to ensure consistent pressure.

The screen printing process has been used for wallpaper printing for barely a century. Even at the hand-printing level of operation it provides a much more economic scale of production than block printing, and low set-up costs make it popular for moderate volume production. Designers mostly come from surface or textile design degree courses, working decoratively in response to market demand. In the UK these include Lizzie Alan, Linda Florence and Belynda Sharples.
Some artisinal wallpaper makers work such Tracy Kendall and Claire Coles develop textured surfaces use craft techniques like stitching and collage, and increasingly digital technologies allow small producers to outsource printing altogether.

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