Posts Tagged ‘mural’

Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

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Jungle Paneled Installation, Italian Product, for a Nursery

June 22, 2019


The top photo shows a sample panel of the wallpaper taped to the wall of the nursery. You can see the sharply sloping ceiling line to the right.

The mother-to-be fell in love with the jungle theme and the colors of this paper. She bought it on-line from an Italian company. Unlike most wallpapers that come in rolls, this product came in sets of panels, each of which was 27″ wide x 39″ long. In the second photo, you see the first three tiered along the left, and the next two strips positioned to the right. Other panels will be filled in above and below, and to the right.

Precious little information was available on how to install this product … and what there was came in Italienglish, which was little help. There was a brief on-line video, plus you could read the experiences of previous DIY clients in the customer reviews section. In such cases, you have to use the scant available information, along with your own experience, to decern an install method.

Turns out, this is similar to the old-school paper murals that come in panels and call for powdered paste. Except this company did not include paste (as most do), nor were the panels meant to be overlapped.

Luckily, I have sources for wheat, cellulose, potato starch, and other powdered wallpaper adhesives. These are mixed up on-site, are less aggressive as far as stickiness goes, and are more wet than the pre-mixed pastes used for most installations today.

More wetness, along with the particular type of paper these murals are printed on, means that the paper will absorb more moisture and can expand substantially. This is why most of these types of murals are designed to be overlapped at the seams. The seams of this product, however, were meant to be butted … which means that when that paper dries, it could shrink, and that could result in gaps at the seams.

Because the mural came in panels instead of continuous strips, the edges of the strips could not be lined up exactly perfectly, neither vertically nor horizontally. And this was exacerbated because each panel absorbed paste and expanded differently from the others, so there could be a difference in width or height between panels of as much as 1/8″.

This meant that there were some pattern mis-matches between strips. It also resulted in some seams overlapping. I left before the paper was completely dry, but I imagine there are areas where the some seams gap, too.

But I tend to overthink things, and fret about minute details that most people never see. The bottom line is, the accent wall looks fantastic, and will set a theme for the new baby’s room.

Note that this paper gets really wet when it’s pasted, and so you see a bit of blotchiness in the photos. This will disappear and the paper will be much lighter and brighter when it’s all good and dry.

The product is also not really technically a “mural.” But it comes in panels like many murals do, so I’m using that term for simplicity’s sake.

Besides the special paste, because this product was printed on a rather flimsy paper, I used a softer brush to apply the paste (as opposed to a roller), and I used a soft, long-bristled smoothing brush.
The video showed the guy using his hands to attempt to smooth the paper into place. If you looked closely, his finished wall had a lot of bubbles and wrinkles. My long soft smoothing brush was much more appropriate.

Timorous Beasties “Indie Wood” Wallpaper in a Dining Room

April 21, 2019


This is some novel stuff!

This wallpaper pattern is something like a mural, but with a little more brain-bending. It is one continuous design, with no element or motif repeating or showing up more than once in the 33′ length of each bolt.

It’s a good thing that no one was living in the house, and that furniture had not been moved in yet. Because I needed a LOT of floor space to roll out and study each bolt.

I had to compare the height of the walls and the length of each strip that I needed, to the placement of various animals in the design. This enabled me to plot where on the wall any given critter would appear, and to get as many creatures as possible on each strip, all while accommodating the homeowner’s preference for a few special ones.

I rolled the entire 33′ long bolt out on the floor, took measurements, and used blue tape to indicate the tops and bottoms of each strip. This enabled me to fiddle with various layouts and animal positions, and I could make changes if needed.

We needed 22 strips, and I was getting 5 strips out of each double roll bolt. So after I cut five strips from the first bolt, I moved on to the second bolt.

To give a more random look, I wanted the same animals (the squirrels, for instance) to be placed at different heights moving around the room. So when I started plotting my strips and cuts from the second bolt, I made sure that the creatures landed at different heights from the first bolt. That first bolt and the animals’ positions I called “A” and the second bolt and positions were “B”. I only got four strips out of the “B” bolt.

This meant that any given motif would appear at the same height on the wall only every 9th strip. This would give a pleasing, random look.

The plan was to hang all the strips taken in order from the “A” bolt first, followed by strips taken sequentially from the “B” bolt. Repeat with another “A” and another “B”, and then back to an “A” bolt again.

To be sure, I measured and marked and double-checked everything carefully before I cut anything. Then each strip was labeled … (“2A,” “4B,” etc.)

Working around the doors and windows, the room was divided into four sections. The next step was to get all those strips of paper placed in proper sequential order, standing in queue all around the room – all while figuring the center point of each of those four spaces and plotting which strips would be placed flanking the middle of that wall.

Some cool features of this pattern is that it was placed smack down the middle of the 20.5″ wide strip, which made it a lot easier to center and balance the design than if it had been placed off-center. Also, the design did not reach across any seams, so (other than plotting the height where each critter would fall) there was no pattern match. This made it a lot easier to accommodate crooked walls and un-level ceiling and wainscoting.

The dimensions of the room were also amazingly in sync with those of the wallpaper pattern. Vertically, the 82″ height of each wall / strip worked with the placement of animals on the paper, so virtually all animals were kept intact. There was only one bird who got cut in half at the wainscoting, and that happened only every 9th strip (twice in the whole room).

Horizontally the pattern worked out just as incredibly. The width of all of the walls worked out to be within an inch or two of a multiple of the width of the paper. So centering the strips / pattern on each wall resulted in a look as if the design were “framed” by the door and window moldings. Sorry, no pics.

The downside was, just by happenstance, I ended up with an extraordinary number 1″-2″ strips that had to be squeezed in. Time-consuming and PITA.

I centered the pattern on each of these four wall spaces. But that meant that the rhythm of the pattern would get screwed up as it passed over the door to the butler’s pantry, two windows, and the 12′ wide entry to the hallway.

Here again, the dimensions worked amazingly well, and so did the very accommodating pattern. In the short 10″ high areas over these doors, I was able to “fudge” the pattern by slicing strips vertically along a tree trunk, for instance, and then overlapping the two sections an inch or two, to “shrink” the strip’s width. Making an inch of width disappear from each of seven strips is barely noticeable, and maintains the rhythm that the viewer’s eye wants to see as it travels around the room. Again, sorry, no pictures.

The walls had been primed a few days before; just laying out and hanging the paper took me 12 hours.

I hung this “Indie Wood” pattern by Timorous Beasties on the top 5′ above paneled wainscoting in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It’s made of non-woven material, and can be hung by paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper (which was what I opted to do). Non-wovens are strong and have a high fiber-glass content. They are designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. Additionally, they are dimensionally-stable – they do not expand when wet with paste. This makes it much easier to plot placement of strips and motifs.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

More Timorous Beasties – Indie Wood, Mislabeled and Correct Versions

April 19, 2019


The top photo shows the wallpaper sample the client had received and made her selection from. She had taped it to the wall in the dining room, to designate which paper was to go there. It’s an overall foliage pattern with realistic delicate birds and insects, and a pattern that matches across the seam from strip to strip.

But when I opened the shipping box, the paper that we received was a very large and bold non-repeating vertical stripe. There were large forest creatures and plants drawn in a whimsical style. The design did not cross the seams, so there was no pattern match.

Obviously, the sample the homeowner had received was not the same as what we had received.

Happily, the wild and bold forest scene is what she wanted.

Like yesterday’s pattern by the same manufacturer, this is one long mural-like design that runs through the entire 33′ long bolt without any element or motif being repeated. The pattern does not cross the seam, so there is no match – you are free to place any element of the design at any position on the wall you wish.

Of course, you want to make sure not to place the same squirrel, for example, at the same wall height on every strip, and especially not on two strips next to each other.

This will be a bit of a mind-bender to plot and lay out, and will take up a lot of space on the floor while I roll out all the bolts to get a good look at the pattern.

I’m looking forward to this challenge. Plus, the beautifully-drawn pictures and the fairy tale-like feel of the design are mesmerizing, juxtaposed with the strong pattern color and width and the swirling vertical movement. I can’t wait to see how it transforms this dining room.

More in a day or two … !!

Timorous Beasties Ruskin Floral – A Trying Pattern Match

April 18, 2019


Timorous Beasties makes some unusual wallpapers, with most of them including animals or insects in the design. It’s cool stuff!

This particular pattern, called Ruskin Floral, was more than a bit of a challenge to plot and hang. The manufacturer said there was no pattern match, but just a subtle impression in the textured background that could be matched if you wanted to, but was not necessary. They also said that this pattern match came at something like every 56″. And that it was a quarter-drop match (pattern motif repeats at the same height in the strip every fourth strip).

All of this info was wrong. It turned out that the tree branches in the design did match across the seams. And the pattern repeat was more like 36″, instead of 56″. And, yes, you could have matched the design as a quarter-drop – but it looked better as a traditional half-drop (repeats every other strip).

But what was most unexpected was that the design had these areas of darker foliage that appeared mid-way through the bolt. In every photo that I saw on the manufacturer’s website or on-line, only the picture of the sparse tree branches was pictured (what you see at the top of the wall in the top photo). Even though I rolled out several feet of each bolt on the floor, I had no idea that there was this other area of colorful and full foliage and insects, which you see at the bottom of the wall in the top photo.

I plotted and got my first strip in the center of the wall, and then pinned the second strip next to it. Once I stood back, I was able to see that the foliage got darker and fuller as it dropped closer to the floor. I had not anticipated that.

With 13′ high walls and 13′ long strips, and 33′ on each bolt of paper, there were 20′ more feet (one more strip) left on each of those two first bolts.

But when I pulled more paper from the bolt and pinned it temporarily to the wall, matching the background tree branch motifs, this new strip, which had started from the middle of the first bolt (the first 1/3 of the bolt was now on the wall), was full of colorful foliage – which did not meld well with the sparser tree branch area on the first two strips that were now on the wall.

If I hung this new strip next to the two existing strips in the center of the wall, I would have had two sparse tree branch areas in the center, and then a stripe of darker, fuller foliage directly horizontal to it.

At first, I was going to go this route, because it made the best use of the number of rolls we had (two strips from each double roll). I planned to put two strips of darker foliage next to the two strips of lighter tree branches.

I also contemplated taking off the two center strips (the ones with lightly leafed foliage) and replacing them with ones that had more color and fullness. But I realized that if all the pictures I had seen of this pattern showed the sparse areas, then that’s what the homeowner had seen, too, and she probably was not expecting to see the very dark and full and busy heavily-patterned area, especially not at the top center of her accent wall.

Even more compelling – we didn’t have enough paper for me to rip off and discard two 13′ high strips.

I spent about an hour and a half contemplating various possible options.

Just then, the interior designer walked in – and she was just in time. Two sets of eyes are better than one. By then, I had a number of strips pinned to the wall, to see how the pattern could be played out. She didn’t like my idea of hanging two sparse strips, flanked by two heavily pattered strips – she thought it looked top-heavy, especially over the windows.

We fiddled some more, knocked around various options, and finally concluded that, even though the bed would be obscuring much of the fuller pattern, the wall looked better with the sparse area up high, and the fuller floral area near the floor.

I studied the 33′ long bolt I had rolled out on the floor, with the lighter area at the top, the fuller area in the center, and then tapering off to a lighter area toward the end of the bolt. Our decision meant that I could get only one strip of paper out of each double roll bolt.

The problem with that was that I needed 10 strips, but only had 8 bolts. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The next issue was that quarter-drop pattern repeat. And that sloped ceiling, which also effected the way the pattern hit the wall. If I used the paper the most economically, and matched the first tree branches as they came off the roll, then that quarter-drop pattern match would have started marching diagonally up and across the wall, and then dropped down again, 7′ to the right. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a look that would play out better on a larger space, such as a full dining room, not one accent wall in a bedroom.

(Quarter-drop pattern matches are very hard to get one’s head around, and way more than I can get into here, but suffice it to say – they lead to a lot of head scratching and a whole lot of wasted paper.)

After more fiddling, I realized that the pattern was printed on each bolt exactly the same; in other words, the design was more like a mural. With one strip per bolt, the design was played out across alternating “A” and “B” bolts. If I ignored the sloping ceiling and cut each strip to the full height of 13,’ I could ensure that specific flowers in the darker area near the floor would hit the wall at the same height, lending a homogenous and pleasing rhythm to the pattern.

Problem solved!

But now we get back to the wall that needs 10 strips, but we only have 8 bolts of paper (one strip per bolt).

In the top photo, all the paper has been hung except that last strip to the left of the window. (There is a mirror image on the right side of the wall.) That area was about 9′ high. Since I had already taken approximately 13′ off each 33′ long bolt, I had about 20′ still left. But since that started in the center of the bolt, it was an area full of the heavier colored and printed pattern. Even though the pattern of the tree branches would match, I didn’t want to place that darker strip next to the lighter strips already on the wall. It might have looked interesting, as a sort of darker “frame” for the outer edges of the wall – but, like the interior designer, I thought it would look too dark and heavy and lopsided.

I remembered that the pattern thinned out again as it moved toward the bottom of the bolt. So I unrolled the paper down to the bottom, and then, working from the bottom instead of the top, I found the pattern match that corresponded to what was on the wall, and cut it to fit the height of the wall.

Trimmed and put in place, it looked pretty darned good. This piece (and it’s twin on the opposite side of the wall) didn’t have nearly as much dark foliage at the bottom as the other strips. At first I was going to cut some flowers out of scrap paper and appliqué them to fill in the void areas. But I realized that was getting kinda obsessive over something that few people would even notice.

It was just a 12″ wide strip, and there will most likely be furniture in front of it, and we were able to get by without having to buy two extra double rolls (which would have been different runs (see previous posts).

Getting this wall with a tricky pattern match to look good was a mix of luck, skill, mathematics, and having purchased enough paper. Always buy more paper than you think you will need.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design, and the home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Wallpaper in March 2019 Issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

March 5, 2019


The first picture is the most exciting. Murals have exploded in popularity these days, but they’re not the traditional palm-trees-hanging-over-a-white-sandy-beach photo. The pink floral mural looks like a very traditional hand-painted silk, most of which are very expensive. These days, there are all sorts of digitally-printed knock-offs, which are very reasonably priced. The other three murals are examples of more contemporary designs. Since many companies are printing digitally, their murals can be custom-sized to fit your specific wall. (Remember to have the paperhanger measure before you order – we know how to measure better than homeowners. 🙂 )

The second and third photos accompany an article about decorating with house plants. I am tickled that they chose wallpaper as a backdrop for these rooms.

The last photo shows a bedroom papered with an abstract palm leaf pattern – which just happens to be yellow – the magazine’s feature color of the month.

Large and Sweet and Pink Floral Mural for a Baby Girl’s Nursery

February 27, 2019


Expectant moms love this over-scaled floral design in pink, grey, and green, mural style wallcovering for their baby girl’s nursery. I’ve hung it (or similar) many times.

This accent wall is where the crib will be placed. The wall had a light texture; the first photo shows the wall after I have skim-floated it smooth and primed it.

Instead of a traditional pattern where the design motifs repeat regularly up and down and across the wall, a mural like this has few or no repeating design elements. Also, instead of being packaged in rolls or bolts, this wallpaper comes as a 6-panel mural.

Unlike most murals, this one did not come marked as to which strip went where, nor was there a photo of the mural included in the packaging. I had to go on-line with my cell phone to find a pic so I new which way was up! In the third photo, you see me laying the six strips out on the floor, to determine which strip went next to which.

Interestingly, the placement of the flowers on the panels did not correspond to where they appeared on the panels in the photo. In other words, the largest flower, which appeared at the top of the wall in the photographs, was dropped down to mid-wall height on the mural I hung today.

The strips are cut to 9′ long, so I guess that whoever engineered the pattern’s design did not sync it to the 9′ measurement. No biggie … the design is wild enough that no one really cares or notices where a particular flower is placed on the wall. Personally, I think that hugest flower looks great right in the middle of the wall – right over where the crib will sit.

As in other times I have hung this mural, there were printing defects, as you see a slight pattern mis-match in the fourth photo. That photo also shows what I think is a bad cut at the factory – I think the trimmer got off-set at an angle, so made a beveled cut on just that left side of that one panel. That’s why you see the white substrate showing all along that seam.

I was able to take my trusty set of chalk pastels and do some light touch-ups, to fill in the white gap with a matching color, and to disguise the spots of mis-matched pattern (no photo).

This sweet mural is by Anewall, and was bought on-line. It is about 12′ wide x 9′ high, which is pretty standard for a wall mural. This wall was a little less than 12′ wide, so I cut off and discarded about 10″ from the right side of the mural. (This side had fewer interesting design elements, so was the best option for editing.)

The material was pre-pasted, so it was needed was a little water to activate the paste on the back. I did roll a light coat of paste onto the wall, as well as cut in paste around the ceiling and baseboard and far edges, to augment the adhesive.

No manufacturer’s name is given, but I do believe this product is made by York, in their Sure Strip line. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when the child grows and it’s time to redecorate the room.

Aside from the minor printing defects, it was nice to work with.

The home is in Spring Branch (Houston).

Mountain Mural for a Mountain Climber

October 6, 2018


This homeowner is a mountain climber, and goes every chance he gets. He wanted to bring a little of his passion into his home, and this rear wall of his closet was the lucky spot.

A lot of the mountains and sky were cut off where the cabinets hit the wall, but you see enough of the photo to feel like you are there!

The mural is by MuralsYourWay.com (who happen to be fellow members of the Wallcovering Installers Association). It was custom-sized to fit the wall (allowing a 2″ “bleed” all around each side). It came on a heavy vinyl material with a canvas backing, and was pretty thick. That made it a little difficult to trim.

There was one seam, and that was double-cut (overlapped 2″ and then spliced). Since the material was so thick, and with the fabric backing having threads that got caught up in the seam, it was somewhat difficult to cut – I used a new single edged razor blade and had to press really hard to get through both layers. I used a thin polystyrene plastic strip to pad and protect the wall under the cut, so the drywall would not be damaged (cut drywall can delaminate and result in a popped seam.

I also used blue plastic tape on the edge of the overlapped piece, to prevent paste from getting on the face of the mural.

The wide strip on the left would have been unwieldy trying to fit around the upper and lower cabinets, and the material was prone to creasing. So, I split the strip in half vertically, so the first half went to just an inch past the cabinets. This was much easier to manipulate, and put less stress (potential damage) on the paper, plus it kept paste off the cabinets. Then I was able to easily position the short piece that went in between the upper and lower cabinets.

This is a new construction home in the Tanglewood area of Houston. I was lucky enough to work all by myself, with no other construction workers in the house. No noise, no distractions = happy.

Wallpaper Gets Exposure in Magazines

October 1, 2018


Thank you again, Better Homes & Gardens, for featuring wallpaper in your magazine.

The first photo is a powder room done in “Nuvolette,” a rolling cloud pattern in the Fornasetti line by the British company Cole & Son.

Next is a hand-painted scenic mural, and think the brand was Gracie, although there are a few other companies that make similar. These are very high-end products, and this homeowner saved mega bucks by having just a few panels made, and then framing them and hanging as artwork (as opposed to papering the entire room with the mural).

Third photo is a popular foresty pattern by Hygge & West. They have delightful designs, but I am not crazy about their papers, because the seams tend to “pouch” just a little. Do a Search here to read more (upper right corner).

In the last photo, you see just a little wallpaper in the background.

Beautiful, Funky 1960’s Mural

August 30, 2018


This mural is on the wall of a dining room in a 1960’s home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston. It is actually larger than it appears in the photos. It’s original to the home, in perfect condition, and the ink colors are as vibrant today as they were the day it was hung.