Substrate Fighting the Ink – Wrinkles, Contrary Seams

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

The first photograph is showing the back of a strip of wallpaper, after paste has been applied. It is wrinkled and warped. The reason is because the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste and expanding at a different rate from that of the ink on the front, so the two materials are fighting one another.

This makes it difficult to work with on my table. But the real hassle is when the paper is on the wall, and the seams curl in areas where ink crosses the seam (second photo). It was very difficult to get the seams to stay down. Often, if you wait until the paper is dry, they will dry taut and flat. But you can never count on that, so it’s best to make sure the seams are closed and tight while you’re still working.

But overworking the seams can cause visible burnishing or other damage to the surface.

I experimented with booking times, humidity control during booking, smoothing techniques, and I used my trapezoidal smoother tool to push the cantankerous areas tight to the wall. Still, I was not 100% happy with the way most of the seams looked.

This manufacturer, a small American company called Hygge & West, is pretty customer-friendly, so I sent them an e-mail with photos and suggested they might research other substrates and inks. There are plenty of companies that make wallpaper that doesn’t curl at the seams, and Hygge & West should be among them! Many people love the patterns of Hygge & West, and I would love for them to have papered rooms that are as close to perfect as possible.

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