Posts Tagged ‘potato starch’

This Innocent Box Detained in Customs

January 9, 2018


This wallpaper manufacturer specifies a certain paste for its non-woven wallpaper, and to be sure you use the right paste, it includes a box of powdered paste with each order.

The problem was coming across the Canadian border. Their customs and security guys’ X-ray scanner detected a “mysterious” powdery material. Telling them that it was potato starch-based, dry powdered wallpaper paste didn’t assuage their fears.

They held the whole package – paste, wallpaper, everything – up in customs for several days, while they researched “suspicious” terms – like potato starch.

OK, I’m not complaining. It’s good that we have eyes watching out for our security. It’s also a good reminder why to order your paper as soon as possible, in case of delivery delays.

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Mixing Powdered Paste

May 29, 2016

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Certain papers call for special adhesives. “Back in the day,” all wallpaper was hung with powdered paste. Today, some papers still do better with these types of paste. Some of the options are wheat, cellulose, or potato starch based. They are less tacky, more slippery, and less likely to stain delicate materials.

“Back in the day,” paperhangers used a wire whisk and a lot of elbow grease to mix these pastes with water into a smooth consistency. My modern day trick is to use an immersion blender. It’s much faster and really gets rid of the lumps!

After mixing, the paste must be allowed to sit for a period of time, to completely absorb the water, and then be stirred again, with more water or powder added as needed.

Eco-Fix is a potato starch based paste that can be bought from Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/). Wheat and cellulose powdered pastes can be purchased from Bob Kelly at paperhangings.com. I always try to keep some on hand, for the rare occasion when a job calls for this type of special paste.

New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016
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Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/), a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.