Saturday, October 4, 2014


Please consider the usual apology for long silence made.  Let me announce rather the wallpapering of the dining room is moving forward.  (Pause for trumpets, or at least a kazoo). After literal years of contemplation, hesitation, and self-doubt; of picking at the old stuff and planning for the new; of stripping and scrubbing, prepping and priming, the walls as of early this (Friday) morning are finally lined with blankstock, sized, and ready for paper.

A big part of the hold-up has been getting extra pairs of hands to help.  My friend Janet* from England aided me with hanging the stairhall paper (the Morris “Blackthorn” green) in the spring of 2012.  My local friend Frieda* contributed mightily to my getting the living room paper (the Morris “Owen Jones” red) up the subsequent fall.  But Janet's far away in Essex and Frieda's current work schedule sucks away nearly all her time, and there's something that shrivels up in me when I think of asking just anybody to help me with the house.

But a couple weeks ago a church friend I'm calling Lizzie* expressed herself willing to lend a hand.  Or two.  We were planning for her to come help put up blankstock the third Saturday in September-- until I got an emergency call to come work that day at the Big Blue Box Store.

We tried again last Monday the 29th.  Together got five strips of blankstock up.  Railroaded.  Yaaaayyyy for us!

I won’t go into the convolutions that put us through; suffice it that I learned or was reminded of enough hanging technique that I was able over the next three days to hang the rest of it myself– even the 12' strips at the tops of the west and south walls.  Without bubbles, wrinkles, or disasters.  Unbelievable, but true.

Lizzie is coming again tomorrow afternnon (later today?) to help me hang the actual paper, the very William Morris & Co. “Savernake” No. WR8480/5, and you know what?  I’m scared.

Not scared of any part she might play in it, but of all the things that could go wrong, now I know that the stakes are so high.  Didn’t I title one of my previous blog posts on the subject “On the Verge”?  Yeah.  On the verge, and hoping to God I don’t fall off.

What’s all this trepidation about?

Well, first, I dread I’ll get it all done and I won’t like it.  I’m still kicking, kicking, kicking myself for not buying the paper back in 2004 when it was a) a lot cheaper, and b) produced in the creamy tone I really wanted.  Having looked and looked it’s this Morris pattern or nothing, and the pale celery tone with the brownish figure isn’t bad for a dining room, and as greens go it’s the sort I like, but for a whole room it’s not really me.

I’m telling myself it will be all right once the drapes are up and the chairs reupholstered.  I hope I’m right, but my gut tells me No.

And I’m scared I’ll run out of full strips of paper before I’m through.  I was an idiot when I started cutting the strips for tomorrow and a) didn’t look hard enough at the pattern and correctly choose the cornice line, and b) when I wrote down the correct measurement of 8'-7" (including margin top and bottom) but for four whole strips I assiduously made the cut at 8'-5".  Maybe the all-nighters I pulled hanging blankstock are catching up on me?  Aaaggghhh!

The measuring error was a blessing of a perverse kind.  It forced me to start over and recut.  If I hadn’t, the pattern imbalance would have been noticeable, very.  But by the time I discovered it I had only six and two-thirds whole double rolls left.  Eyeballing the walls I conclude I need twenty full strips to cover them without horizontal seams.  Twenty is exactly what I can get out of what I have left.

So what if I muck one of those full strips up?  What if due to corner cuts I need one more?

Yeah, I know.  Do a horizontal double-cut and splice in a piece at the bottom of the wall in a corner and stick the bookcase in front of it.  But my pride suffers agonies at the thought.

And then I’m spooked by the paper itself.  That stuff was running 18 quid a double roll back in 2003, around $33 at the time.  I got it for £27; about $45 each, in 2009.  You know what it’s going for now?  Before shipping?  A bleeding $98 a double roll!  Mon Dieu, at that price it’s practically sacred!  At that price I should have auctioned it off on eBay and paid my mortgage the next month and a half!

But I didn’t. Almost half of it is cut, and the rest will have to follow.  And for better or worse, scared as I am of mucking up the job, it has to be hung.

I still need to size the blankstock.  But that can wait till daylight.  I stay up any later I’ll just add to my mistakes.

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