adelphi
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When we first set foot in the Beekman, one of the first things that took our breath away was the hand-printed wallpaper that adorns the walls.   The prior owners of the farm were friends with the proprietors of the British company Cole & Sons who have been making wallcoverings since 1875.

Last summer, we wrote about the gorgeous Zuber wallpaper hanging in the family home of Ross, our wine columnist.

But you don’t have to go to Europe to find exquisite hand-printed wallcoverings.  You can find them right here in America.  In fact, you can find them just three miles away from The Beekman at Adelphi Paper Hangings.

You may remember that Adelphi contributed  to the creation of the portfolio of heirloom seeds that Beekman 1802 and Landreth Seed sent to the White House  earlier this year.  But that was not the first time that our friend Steve Larson’s work had been to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  When the Lincoln Bedroom underwent its extensive renovations, Adelphi was called in to recreate the wallpaper for the room.  You can see the finished product here.

A remnant from the Lincoln Bedroom (center)
A remnant from the Lincoln Bedroom (center)

We spent the afternoon in Steve’s studio recently, and he walked us through the process of recreating historic wallcoverings.

A remnant of antique wallpaper is carefully recovered from its source
A remnant of antique wallpaper is carefully recovered from its source
The pattern is carefully recreated on acetate to create the pattern
The pattern is carefully recreated on acetate.  See the end result at the bottom of this page.

 Adelphi has an enormous collection of historic stamps that they have salvaged and preserved, a treasured archive of this beautiful artform.  Along with templates that they have re-created, the antique stamps reside in a cool dark storage facility deep beneath the studio.  They are carefully cataloged.

A treasure trove
A treasure trove

Without computers, the process of making wallpaper is time-consuming.  Every different color in the pattern has to be applied in a separate step and using a different template, a complex overlay of patterns.

The paper before printing has begun
The paper before printing has begun
The paper is first rolled out on this long table.
The paper is first rolled out on this long table.
The background color is handpainted and the paper is hanged to dry.
The background color is handpainted and the paper is hanged to dry.
The press stamps the paper one length at at time.
The press stamps the paper one length at at time.
Watching the printing is almost meditative.
Watching the printing is almost meditative.

It takes hour and hours of research, painting and printing to create enough wallpaper for even a single room.  It is clear why museums and historical societies frequently return to Adelphi.  The company’s owners are true American Masters.

A true piece of art.
A true piece of art.
Chrirs Ohrstrom and Steve Larson (seated) John Townsend (holding Zuber), Jenn Delpit, Dave Cocco, and Michelle Farwell
The Adelphi Team:  Chris Ohrstrom and Steve Larson (seated) John Townsend (holding Zuber), Jenn Delpit, Dave Cocco, and Michelle Farwell

Imagine.  We found these wonderful craftsmen in our own back yard.  What are the hidden talents in your community?  Share them with the rest of us.

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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darlene rouse

We bought a home that was built in 1945. We just started the renovation and uncovered we think is a Zuber wallpaper print. Its in two panels. The previous owners traveled to France quite often. Were not sure, but we believe theres more under the other walls too. We would like to know where can we get them appraised?

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Devy

Hallo, I'm so jealous of this wallpaper making. i really wish i could create those beautiful wallpapers !!!!

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Kim Finestone

I'm speechless. True craftsman, right here in USA. Looking forward to buying something so special it will outlive me on this earth. Thanks so much for sharing!!

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John Zweifel

Good afternoon, My wife Jan and I are the creators of the White House in Miniature , at this time we are updating the Lincoln bedroom and have been requested to update the private quarters to reflect the George and Laura Bush administration.

We have hundreds of photos from the White House but do not fell color reflected is suitable our inquiry to you is to ask if we could purchase a large sample of the Lincoln bedroom wallpaper seen on you website, do you have available eagle wallpaper from Bush private bedroom.

I look forward to your responce.

e-mail as above ( [email protected])

John Zweifel

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Phyllis

I know that Zuber wants to run up and down that white paper, making little paw prints all over it. He wants to name this design, The Paws That Refreshes 🙂 ( as you may guess,I can't sleep tonight!!!)

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Frank Tosto

Dear Mr. Steve Larson,

When in Washington, Ct. at a House sale and auction I ventured up to the attic and to my

amazement there was such a wonderful wallpaper

still there and in good condition. The house was

c.1800. You being expert on antique designs I would

like to send you a photo of it I took and wonder if

the same design could be recreated by you Of course the design might be common to you but

any information you could give me I would most

appreciate. Now I am searching for the photo.

Thank you very much. Frank Tosto.

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Linda

It's so wonderful that there are still people striving to preserve "lost arts". No mass produced, machine made paper would be able to inspire such awe! They should be signed by them, as artists, as works of art.

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Marsha Weiner

thank you for posting this piece on the wall coverings. my first close encounter with similarly breath-taking hand painted wallpapers was a visit to Winterthur – the estate of the late Henry Francis duPont. the gardens were wonderful- but, the rooms of the mansion were covered in exquisite papers. Winterthur is in Delaware– a nice stop between DC and NYC. worth the time if you are trekking the Northeast corridor.

tx again!

mw

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Dr. Brent

Marsha,

Thanks for the wonderful day trip suggestion. I will ask the guys at Adelphi if they've ever done any work at Winterthur.

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Elaine

Oh, my. Those wall coverings are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing how they make them.

Reply