A Report on the
Methods, Materials and Uses of
PAPER AND: PAP ER-HIANG ING
Deirdre J. Hardy.
M~r. P. Wisely
PAPER AND PAPER-HANGING
The Cbinese are believed to have made paper from bamboo
and rags as early as 20001B.C. Though they strove to
keep this process a secret, their knowledge spread
westward after several paper-makers were taken prisoner
during a Chinese attack on Turkestan in 751 A.D. These
#-1 skilled artisans were put to work in Seunar~kanld by their
Arabian captors and from there the craft spread to Baghdad,
Damascus, Egypt and eventually Christian E~urope via the
Moors in Spain and the Sicilians.
Until 1450, textile rags wbere the only source of pulp. Since
then wood has became and remained, the only source of pulp-
the basic ingredient of paper.
America imported all her paper requirements from Europe until
1690 when the first mill began production at Germantowyn, Pa.
Five more mills were in operation by 1'768, but the increased
use of paper during the Revoltionary War saw that number
grow to ninety by the war's end, and increase further to
200 by the year 1810. Continuous sheet paper was first
produced in 1801 and technological machine improvements
during the next thiry five years resulted in machine
printed paper which further stimulated demand and resulted
in ever increased production, until the Wo2rld Wars of the
Twentieth Century interrupted the spiral.3
PROCESS OF PAPER-MAKING
Pulp-making is the preparation of fibres for uniformly
distributed suspension in water so that they form a sheet
of interlacingf fibres on a rolling screen through which
water om drain away. Pulpm~aking can be achieved tw8o ways,
mechanical and chemical.
'ife mechanical method involves wood being literally ground
to a pulp. After cleaning, screleri-ng and' thickening it
is ready for the final paprm~akingS process.
The chemicalprocess consists of adding sulphate or sulfite
to the finely chipped wood. In both these cases.(the sul-
fite, or "acid" method is used most often today) the mixture
is sealed in a container and cooked to temperatures as high
as 66i2oF. The pul#~ is then screened, blended and if destined
for a higher-grade paper use is bleached.
The next step is beating., The fibrous mixture is beaten .to
a mass of such consistency that in the paper machines the
fibres will bond together and the water will drain off
slowly and uniformly. This step is the controlling one for
the composition of the paper and addition of other materials
such as resin, olay, chalk etc. depends on the type of paper
The rolling stage takes place next as the liquid mass passes
over wire rollers where excess water is expressed and a sheet
of continuous paper is formed. The top roller is the "dandy"
which contains the wire or rubber form which makes the
watermark. From the wire rollers the paper sheet, which
now contains 441 lb. of water for every pousnd of paper, passes
over suction:and pressing rollers until a moisture content
of 650 is obtained. Steam heated rollers now reduce the
moisture to 5-80~ and, the sheet passes through a series of
rollers which give it the final surface finish.
PROPERTliIES OF PAPER
Paper can chemically be treated to be fire-resistant and
flamne-retardent and resistent to water, water vapour, insects
rodents, mould, fungi and bacterial It can also be made
tear-proof. Paper's important natural properties are
water absorption, density, tensile strength and porosity.
It can be given other important properties such as
compressive strength by lamination, acoustical properties
by impregnation and coating, and im~permeability by coating
with a thin film of metal such as copper which then makes
it useful where electrical conductance is important.
Paper's use in building ranges from asbestos saturated
felts for use in built-up roofs, as heat insulation for
light fixtures and oven lintags, through roof decking,
and. sheathing paper, to concrete form-work molds to
inexpensive fibre-board finishing material for interiors
and felt for carpet underlays, and the paper products
typically used daily in an architect's office.
A differing use of paper pulp is papier-m~chi, another
product wh~-ose origins lie in the Orient, where it is
known to have been used as a material for war helmet
which were toughened by laquering them* Althougqh the? team
papier-ma~ch6 seems tom owed of French wocrds it is not,
according to the xford Eng~lish Dictionary, of French origin.
It seems reasonable, considering that the term was first
used by French emighe workers in England during the Eight-
eenth Century to describe, with good reason, what was called
in Ekg2AClshn'chewede paper," for the French verb uto chew"t is
"mache2f- hence papier-mache. This term refers to products
made of mast~icated paper pulp saturated with water which
has been stiffened by the addition of a binder of vegetable
or animal glue. This mixture is then moulded into any desired
form, allowed to dry, and painted, coated or dyed any color.
It can be shaped mechanically in molds, by hand, or over a
ARCHITECTURAL USES OF PALPIER-MACHLE
Historically, paper in the form of papier-m~che has been .
used for a variety of architectural uses ranging from a
bath-tub, whicht was l~ight-weight, cheap and. servicable as
long as the waterproof finish lasted and the weight of the
bather was not so great as to cause structural failure)
through a variety of small products such as soap dishes,
Slides mirror frames and trays;, to being the sole component of
a village of ten homes ranging in size from two rooms to
Slide a nine room villa which wtas prefabricated in England in
1n53 for erection in Australia. It is known that the
modular double walled structure of a waterproof fibrous
material patented by inventor Charles Bielefeld withstood
two feet of flood-water caused by heavy rains and poor
drainage while it was temporarily set up on the factory
grounds, so hopefully its unknown fate in Australia was
kind. It is known that a church of stailar. mat erial
erected in Bergen, Norway survived for 37 years before
As can be seen in the illustration of the papier-mtch6
villa, the mantel and cornice were alabanatb9y molded,
and th~is use seems to have been papier-m~oh6's principal
architectural use during the Eighteenth Century for many
important buildings, including Strawberry Hill and the
House of Lords which ~had ceiling and wall ornaments made
of this material. The firm of Jackson and Son, London,
founded by George Jackson, previously a carver of wooden
moulds for R~baigt Adan, is still in business and is ise poss-
ible today to have repaired from t~hB original -molds any
workC ever done by them.l Peter Fleeson conducted a
similar business in the UJnited State4 for an advertisement
which appeared in 1745 mentioned that he manufactured paper-
hangings and papier-michi moldings at the corner of 4 th.&
Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. Today the use of papier-
ma~chi is greatly restricted, for plastics have disppa~dd
its use for wash-basins, and moldings have gone out of
style, leaving papier-machb's use to the craftsperson and
the builder of topographical models.
As mentioned earlier, the Chinese invented paper, and not
suprisingly they are thought to have been the first to use
painted w~all panels to decorate theik? homes. How early
this practice was begun is not knownm. -H.owerpr, Robert For-
tune, an English traveller noted a paper painted in the
style of the M~sing Dynasty in a Chinese home where he was
entertained during the early Ninaeteenth Century. Fortune
noted that this paper detailed a long pictorial story,
but other contemporary papers were typical indoor or out-
door scenes with a lightly indicated landscape background.
Possribly the most famous one to reach the Wbest, as part of
the Oriental influence brought back by the Dutch and English
East India Traders, showed all the processes of the tea
Slide industry. This hand painted paper was imported to America
about 1750 and was still in good condition in a house at
Dedham, Mlass. in 1905.
The earliest recorded use of paper as a wall covering was
in 1145 when the inhabitants of Fez covered the walls afa
vault with paper and then plasterled it over to conceal the
niche's fine carvingf from an attabking enemy. From
Arabia the use of paper spread slowlly to Europe and it was
not until the Fourteenth Century that the manufacture at
paper became a E'uropean industry and the use of the
watermark began. Paper as a wall decorating medium gained
popularity quickly- it was a product of necessity- for
same form of wall covering was required to make rough,
stone walls livable. The Greeks and Romans had covered
their bare polished marble walls with wool and linen hangings.
Woven tapestries, silk hangings, and wood, panelling wJere
also used, but these were the province of the rich. ThLE
invention of wallpaper gave the cannon man visual and
textural comfort and wrhen the wealthy recognized its decor-
ative:oposibilities, its popularity spread rapidly.14
The oldest remnants of European paper have been discovered
inlEtr;3and- one, a large scl~e damask design, probably
adapted from a contemporary fa~bric and dated from the
beginning of the Sixteenth~entury was found in the Master's
Lodge at Christ College, Cambridge. Two more samples
both found st .Barden Hiall in Kent are block printed papers.
The upper oneprobably dates from 158-0. Thp paper is thick
and tough and. was found nailed to the plaster between up-
rights. The ground color was a rich vermillion, with flowers
in bright turquoise and the design butlined in black. The
other Borden Hall paper dates from 1650. It ~was pasted to
the plaster in the modern manner and the design is printed
in black on a white ground with the flowers roughly colored
vermillion. This paper is inrferior to th;e other Borden Hall
wallpaper in design, coloring and paper quality.
In France in 1586t, evidence of a growing paper painting
industry is shown by the incorporation of paper painters
under the name of "'Corporation ofr~amino Miakers, Tapestry
Makers and Picture Makeran The term "'tapestry"l does not
refer to ~the woven material, because those artisans were
already organized under another name. The Domino M9akers
had been in the business of copying the marblepapers import-
ed into France from Persia and popular for lining book
covers and boxes. The small marble sheets were enlarged
with the same design technique for wallpapers. By 1599
t ~0e`9dusat~ry hald grpwh dufficiently~ fbr Repgrf IZV to grhi~t
a charter to the Guild of Paperhangers.
The earliest wallpaper designs were of flowers and cartouches
in diaper and stripe patterns that were printed by hand
with wooden blocks. The designs did not form a repeat,
the separate sheet were simply placed side by side on
the wall. t~fh;Es sheets were actually partly printed and
par~3y hand painted. The design was carved into very hard
wood block faces, the blocks laid side by side to complete
#e 6 (btm)
the motif and the paper sheet placed face down on the
inked blocks and a roller passed over them by hand. T~hus
the outline was printed. and the colours filled in by hald
lide or put on with the aid of a stencil.
England also had a Paper Stainer's Corporation inLjndon
which claims the invention of the flocking techniique in 1626.
The design is printed with glue and then heavily sprinkled
with finely chopped silk or wool so that the material adheres
to the pattern of glue. hien the glue is dry the excess
silk or wool is shaken off and the resulting napped pattern
outline imitates velvet or damask very well, This technique
came to be known in France as English paper.
During the latter part of the SeventeenthCe~ntury, Papillon
of France started the first widely reputed printing house
of:- wallpapers- he still used the block printing, hand touch-
Slides up methods but he designed. patterns that would join together
and be continuous when pasted on the wall.5ide by side.
This innovation made hi~m so successful t~hat; he was able
to open a shop for the sale of his papers instead of having
to peddle them on the streets. He also invented '"luster-paper"
the design was dusted with ground up paints over a glue consist-
ing of 2 ounces of fish glue,heated until luke warm and mixed
with 4 ounces of starch. Several different colors could be
incorporated into each design usihg this process by allow-
ing the glue an appropriate drying time between sequential
Slide By 1750 the English had perfected their technique of printing
with different colors on blocks on top of the paper, and
their papers gained a wide reputation. In 1754 Madame de
Pompadour imported ~n~glish ppper for use at Versailles and
the Chateau de Champs, and the popularity of E~nglishypapers
Slide became international and the time was ripe for taxation.
Sets of twenty five rolls of sheets each 4' x 12' were the
norm and a penny ta~x wras levied on each square yard necess-
itating the presence of an excise officer in the factory to
stamp each pieces This tax persisted until 1836 and, although
the English claimed it ensured the use of new material only
it is also reported to have financed several wars. Of course
it also caused the price of paper goods to rise and this
necessitated a change in the method of hanging. The usual
method in the early houses had been to tack the paper to a
wooden frame over the walls allowing a slight air space
between. However, by 1250 it had become the practice to
paste the paper on the bare wrfall, for it had been found
that if pasted onto canvas stretched over a frame the paper
tended to shrink from the Bdges. 2is~~ practice did however,
have a practical side because the paper could always move
homes with its owner, and so was frequently used. Several
reports exist of advertisements for the rental of luxury
apartments which had paper.wall~:veringsa the outgoing
tenant would like to sell to the newr lessee.
Although the Chinese papers were printed with insoluble
colors from an early date it was not until 1783 that they
were used in Burppe. Until that date the colors had tended
to run when the paper wYas applied to the walls and touch-u~p
was often necessary after hang~ing--correspondence exists
between Mr. and Mrs. Ben Franklin concerning uneven coloring.
'"If the paper is not equally coloured w~hen pasted on, let it
be brushed over again with the same colour, and let the
papier-mach'emusical. figures be t~acked to themileo
the ceiling. W~hen this is done, I think it will look: very
The advent of the::French Revolutiop saw a change in the
Slide designs, away from the pastoral and garden scenes
beloved of Mlarie Antoinette to the popularization of
Republican emblems and draped, fabrics. In 1797 Zuber
began his famous factory that was still in operation
just before World '#ar II. It was he who began to publish
Slide the great panorama papers such as "On the Bosporus"
which became so popular and lead to the printing of
"story" papers such ass"The Adventures of Telemnachuan~
Slide produced by Dufour which like many other..populatk paper
told a story in sets of consecutive panels to be hung-
around the roon.
Architectural frames were a popular design motif and
were not only uosd in classical styled papers such as
Slide "Sacred to Waslhington" which was produced at the death
of that famous gentleman, but were adapted to aid in
perspective rendering~ by creating depth of field with
the inclusion of balustraldes and dadoes.
Slide By 1764 the engraved cylinder had been invented and this
newer: method allowed far greater detail as well as faster
manufacture. Improved machinery available in 1986 allowed
for, and. increased, production rate 10 times, but it was
Slide not until 1801 that continuous sheet paper became available
and productions really picked up. 1840 saw the invention
of machine printed paper and the adaption of continuous
repeating designs from cotton and linen fabribs. In 1844
America imported its first color printing machine from
England. At this time the number of colors that cothd
be printed per sheet was fifty-four. By mid-century the
use of wood blocks and hand printing wass resiemred for
special designs and the great scenic and-co~nnemorative
papers had begun to fade from fashion to be replaced by
textile and conventional designs. The new technique of
this time was an adaptation of a Japanese technique to
simulate embossed leather. ESdbossed rollers were used
and the sheets were embellished with sheets of silver and
gold under the direction of the Bank Note Printing Office
of the Government.
In early Colonial Armerica, homes were of necessity
utilitarian, and it was not until the Seventeenth Century
as drawingg to a close that the colonists could afford
the importation of luxuries. Until then, whitewashed
walls embellished by stencilling satisfied the needs
of psychological comfort and cleanliness. Any extra
artistic ability and effort wgs expressed on the chimney
breast. By 1750 imported had become popular and retail
merchants in all the principal towns advertised their wares.
John Ruger began the first: factory in New York in 1765.
His lead was followed by John Walsh in Boston, however
bankruptcy caused him to sell to Moses Grant, w~bho soon
had canpetition from three other firms. MleanwPhile, Peter
Fleeson began his firm in Philadelphia which continued
without competition until Plunkett Keeson advertised his
wares in 1789. Speculation exists concerning the similar-
ity of these two names- were they father and son? Another
father and son firm was begun by two Englishman, John H~owell
# 20 E~;:
and his son John U. Howesll in 1790, It moved from N~ew
York to Baltimore, then Philadelphia and ended in Albany
where it still existed just prior to World Wdar II.r Fine
papers wrere still imphdrted though and these F'rench and
Byisih were in demand for the post-Revb~~ulutionar War
wealthy wtho paid 100 dollars a room for the paper and
forty for its hanging. Local papers ranged in price from
two to eighteen shillings a roll or sixty shillings for
a pictorial set. The fanciful variety of pictorig1 land-
soapes must have allo red a lot of "armehair'travelling"'
although the misconceptions about the subject matter of
same of the narrative papers suggest the owners were not
as well versed in the classics and myths as they thought
The turn of the centu y again witnessed a mirroring of
the prevailing tastes in art applied to interior decoration--
the flowingf forms of the Art Nouveau and the simplification
of forms and colors were reflected for the first time in
the attitude of the Bauhaus that all parts were integrative
pieces of a whole and should be designed accordingly.
Consequently, these forms lend themselves well to wall-
papcr design; a strong silhouette Chatanter, clean in out-
line and mass so that they look well balanced from a
distance and of a flattened form that is drawn in outline
rather than painted aid thus can be appropriately printed
M~ore recent photographic technique improvements and inventive
production methods have produced the photographic mural and
silk screened papers and fabrics and the simulated marble
and wood veneer paper$ and panelling such that today walls
#22 &e 23
can be covered in any material which will enhance it or
return it to its appropriate period in history. For
restoration work careful removal of fragments 6lf any ri~riain-
ing paper is a must, for the fragmnents can be dated and
the design verified by research in the archives of the
Booper-Hlewitt M~useum 16 Newr York.~E
The physical methods of hanging wall-paper have not
changed appreciably except for the glue. Today a homo-
genized vinyl paste is available that is; certainly more
convenient to use that mixing atnd bbilitg, a paste of
winter wsheat flour, borax and alum, not to mention
straining it, The hand, tools needed.~for t;he job, however,
are much the same- cutting table, straight edg~Se,plumbline
and chalk, amzootning brush, sean roller or flat plastic
spatula, razor-blade cutter, step ladder, paste and wide
brush, and of course wall preparation and clean-up equip-
mont. 9echniques required involve knowledge of how to
check the paper for shading variations in dye color and
consequent use of each variant shade on separate walls,
beginning the hanging process on the wall that receives
the most incidental light and finally forming the approp-
riate joints between the panels of paper with the butt
joint being considered the most professional.
Kate Sanborn, Old Time Wall P~apers,( Connecticut,
Caleb Horneastle, Materials for Architecture
( New Yodr,1963) p. 362. -
WallIpape r, Encycl opaedi at Bianni cai,1957 XX II,
Horhboatel, pp. 369-70.
Horaboatel, pp. 362 & 183.
Hor~nboatels 99* 363-66,
Shirley Spaulding DeVoe, Englishpapier-Muache
of the Georgian anmd Vict orian PerSiod ( onnectiout, 1-971 )
Hornboatel, p. 368.
DeVoe, pp. 30-31.
DeVoe, p. 29.
Horn p. 368.
Sanborn, p. 25
Philli aAckerman, Wallpaper: ite Mistory Design
and U~se, ( New York, 19 3) pp. Thii-xiv.
Ackerman, pp. C&5 and Sanborn, Plates IX &c X.
Ackerman, p. 3.
Ackerman, p. 7.
Sanbor~n, pp. 35-36.
Sanborn, p. 65.
Ackerman, pp. 51-56.
Catherine Lynn Fragia~more, "The Stary Wa~lllpapers Tell':
Historic Preservation, (October-December, 1975) 27-35
Sanborn, p. 42.
Ackerman, p. 63.
Ackerman, p. 69.
Ackerman, pp., 91-93.
Frgagiamore, p. 30.
Thomas Audel, ed. Painting_ and Decorating_ MLanual and.
Textb~ook ( Newv York, 1943),~ p. 3b
Ackemnan, Phillis. Wallpaper: Its History, Des~ign and Use,
New YorEk: Tudor Publishing Co., 12
DeVoe,- Shirley Spaualding. Englih aPpier-~aohe of the
Georgian and _Vic_,l~rtoria PeriodJ Connrecti~cut: Wesleyan
University Press, 1971.
Diderot, Denis. AI Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades
and I.n~dustry Ndew York: bo~ver AMtlSications, 199
Frangiamnore, Catherine Lynnar. "The Story Wallpa~pers Tell"
Historic Preservation, Vol., 27 No. 4, 00t/Dec. 1975. 27-;35
Halsey, Elizabeth T. Ladie's Home Journal Book of Interior
Decoration, New J7~?';3;iJ~TerseyTEETsFuFL~FET~`iZETEE~iB.,~19,
Hornboatel, Galeb, Materials For Architecture. Newr York:
Reinhold. PublishiZng Co., 1963.---
Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. Painting
and Decoratin Craftsman's Manual and Textbook. N~ew
York Thanas Audel &s Co., 1949.
Sanborn, Kate. _Old Time Wall Pa ers. Connecticut: E.P.
Dut~tonr &Co, 1905.
"W8allpaper" E~ncycloptedia Britannica, 1957, XXII.
Wright, Lawrnce. Clean an(~ Decent., Newr York:, The Viking
Kotur, SheiLa and Robert. "Togeth~er Wfe Transforned An Old
Count~ry Inn Ifnto A Weekend Holse"~ Hou;8se r Jdla y~ndGd
Vol.147 No. 7., July, 1975. 46-49
1. Map of Asia c.1294, locating Samarkand, from Wold Atlas
Rand MioNally, Newu York, 1968.,p. 213.
2. Papier-mache Trays, DeVoe, _English Papier-M~chi of the
Georg~ian ~and V~vict-orian Periods, Wea~leyran Unriversity Press,
Connecticut, 1971, p. 46,
3. Papi~er-mache furniture, DeVoe,Fig. 180.
4. Papier-ma~oh6 Villa and Interior, DeVoe, Fig. 23.
5. Cultiv~ation of Tea, Dedham, Mass. Kate Sanborn, Old Time
Wa~l~l Paer EaP.DUtton &,~;Co* 1905, Plate XIII.
6. Borden Hall Wallpapera, Sanborn, Plates IX &c X
7. Repeated patterns, 18" square hand colored, Three-~Pastoral.
Scenes, Sanborn, Plate XXIIl.
7a.Early Colonial stencilled paper, Nantucket, Sanborn. P1UXXVIII
8. Repeated. and joined patterns, Life of a C I9 Gallant,
Sanborn, Plate IV,
9. Detail of above in color. Plate V.
10. Wiatteau manner, French, 17 shades and colors on brown
background with black mesh -over all. Sanborn, Plate ZIII.
11. C IS English paper, 18n wide 16 sets of blocks used,
Sanborn, Plate I.
12. Commemorative Paper; Quiney WeddingS Sanborn, Plate XXIX
13. Scenic paper; "On the Bosporus", Hun~g in honor of Lafayette
wh~ken he visited Mbont~pel~ier, Vermont, 1825, Sa~nborn, Plate
14. "Adventures of Telemrlchus',' French ;?. 1820. Popular in t1e
United. Statesa hung ~in 4 plTacers; in NewI En'gland and at;
The Hermitage, Tenn. ~snborn,Plate..LXVLXIXX.
15. "Sacred to Wahingto~n", Commemorative Paper, Sanborn,
16. Manufacture of wallpaper, engraving: the cylinder, Ackermans
17. Manufacture of wallpaper, Ackerman.
18i. Emboossd leather-like paper, "The St~ory WYallpapers.Te~ll'
Gathering Lynne Frangiamore, Historic Preservation Vol.27
S., NO. 4,; Oct/De.ar 129*76.: p.3,,4.- .
19. Restored hand-stencill-yd wall design attributed to M~oses
Eaton, c. 1820. Ho~use ~and _Garden, Vol. 147 N~o. 7. p.48.
20. Imported European papers, HBistoric Preserv~ation, Oct. 75.
21. English Scenic paper, First Railroad run, Rainh~ill,
Sanborn, plate XXXII.
22. French Boulevard scene, Salem, Mas~s. Removed when found
to excite patients when house used as asylum. Sanborn,
234. Commemorative paper, Olympic Gamles. Unhung set of thirty
rolls forming continuous scene. Block hand printed and
hand finished. Sanborn, Plate LXX[I.
24. Layers pf paper (13) requiring great care to remove
samples that will allow research and dating at Gooper-
Hewiltt MPuseum, New York.~
Art Nouveau design, 1900, Albert Ainsworth, New Jersey.
Historic Preservation, Oct. 75.