Thursday, June 3, 2021

Wallpaper and the Old West


Hi, Kit Morgan here! Today I'd like to talk decorating. But not just any decorating. The old west had one way of decorating that some couldn't live without. 

When we think of the old west we think of cowboys, horses, pioneers, struggle and strife and all sorts of other things. But do we ever think of wallpaper? Nope! However, when we look at pictures of those bygone days, many of them have wallpaper gracing the walls of many a farmhouse, saloon, hotel and yes, even brothels. It's in movies depicting the era, television and pictures. Who wants to look at a plain wall in the background when we're grown so used to seeing colorful wallpaper everywhere?

Wallpaper has been around forever. The Chinese glued rice paper onto their walls as early as 200 BC! As far as American, however, wall paper didn't come into the country until 1739 when a fellow by the name of Plunkett Fleeson began printing wallpaper in Philadelphia. In those early days, colonials copied European fashion. Soon paper became all the rage and American firms even created patriotic "commemorative papers" because of the revolutionary war. Artists came up with everything from neoclassical designs to rambling roses. By 1850,  eight color printing was available. The papers were getting spiffy now! And in 1888, the first wallpaper paste was invented. Wallpaper pasting machines didn't come about until the turn of the century. 

Being a bit of an architectural buff, I love to look at a blank canvas and imagine what sorts of wallpaper I'd put up. Yes, I'm a wallpaper junkie! I admit it. I love the stuff and had one house with quite a bit of wallpaper in it. There was always a lot of Oooos and Ahhhhh whenever folks came over and saw it. To me it makes a home all that more homier. And in the old west, it was a fashion statement for many a housewife. 

Then modernism came along which frowned on embellishments and wallpaper fell by the wayside. Cookie cutter homes and sterile work environments (the bane of any artist's existence) began to dominate the latter part of the 20th century, but now in the 21st, wall paper is making a comeback! Many people have rediscovered the beauty and romance of patterned walls.

So the next time you watch an old west movie or show, notice the wall paper! Some might be downright garish (the victorian era) while others are so pretty, you wish you could put some on your own walls! I often describe the interiors of the homes in the books I write and many have, you guessed it! Wallpaper! 

Until next time,


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