Our craftsmen Jeff Ragland and Shane Legano recently attended The Wallcovering Installers Association’s first international workshop. The event took place in May in the United Kingdom. They were able to experience the amazing historical sites and attractions of London and Oxford while witnessing firsthand how some great and innovative wallcovering products are made and applied. The tours and events let them have hands-on access to some of the best wallcovering products available today. They also had the ability to ask detailed and in-depth questions about how to use and install these wallcoverings from the creators of the products themselves. They were accompanied by 30 other members and guests from countries all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Lewis & Wood
The first stop on their tour was the factory of Lewis & Wood, which specializes in hand-printed classic wallpapers and wide width printed designs and fabrics. Lewis & Wood teams with artists to create its wallcovering lines. There were goods that were 54” (which is much wider than standard residential paper so there are fewer seams) and the wallcoverings had a white perforated edge. This protects the wallcovering during shipping and easily pulls off prior to application. The perforated edge also allows for overlapping and double cutting so there is a near invisible seam. They also had the privilege of eating lunch with Stephen Lewis himself.
Allyson McDermott Restorers
The next stop was a tour of Allyson McDermott restorers to see the studio, restoration studio and archives. According to the Ms. McDermott’s website, “An artisan in the truest sense of the word, Allyson McDermott is arguably the world’s leading authority on conserving, recreating and hanging historic wallpapers. Part artist, part scientist, part sleuth, she peels away the layers of history for clients including The National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and interior designers and architects worldwide.”
Ms. McDermott is truly a historian, scientist and an artist. Jeff and Shane were shown how she uses a microscope to research the historical papers she restores. Sometimes the sample she receives is a tiny scrap. There were dry powder pigment jars which were mixed with rabbit hide glue to create the colors for certain papers. Sheep that were there were sheared for their wool and turned into flock; then dying it the necessary color. She had huge wood block stamp that she was using to reproduce a wallpaper from historic Williamsburg. Seeing all of this was an impressive experience.
Anstey Wallpaper Company
The Anstey Wallpaper Company is located in Loughborough, England. They have been in the business of printing wallpaper for over 100 years. They have seven different types of printing options including, digital printers, roller printers and hand blocking. The majority of European wallpapers are printed at Anstey. There are walls of printing drums throughout the facility. They write instructions and test the wallcoverings in house. When they test the wallcovering, they use European paste. They also employ their own field installers in the UK market to assist the installers and bridge the communication between the installers and printers.
Jeff and Shane are hoping they will also do this with the US market since we hang so many European papers. Pictures were not allowed in this facility because some of the patterns and papers that were in production had not been released to the public.
Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour
Imagine a shopping mall with 120 stores dedicated to decor. That is a simplified description of Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour which was one of their last stops on their trip. The Design Centre is actually a showroom of 120 luxury brands featuring rugs, tiles, fixtures and wallcoverings. The Design Centre is only accessible to professionals that have the appropriate credentials. Shane and Jeff saw some amazing wallpaper trends in the Centre.
In the Fromental Showroom there were beautiful handpainted scenics and custom designs. Iksel – Decorative Arts designs scenic and architectural wallpapers. They are hand painted or printed digitally. The Arte showroom featured new and trending paper created with a variety of materials, including metals, mica chips, glass beads and fabrics.
Did you know that your wallpaper can light up? Meystyle specializes in LED wallpaper. The lights are integrated into the paper so there is no increase in the thickness of the paper and it is hung traditionally. The lights can be connected to a light socket by an electrician or they can be used with a traditional plug, though depending on the country the attachment may vary. The wallpaper incorporates lights into many different styles.
Shane and Jeff came back to the United States with a greater appreciation of how the these wallpapers are designed and printed. There is a huge demand for craftsmen to be able to hang these specialized wallpapers and only a small percentage are skilled enough to do it. Jeff and Shane are qualified to hang this high caliber of wallcoverings and we are so lucky that they are part of the H.J. Holtz family!