Q&A with Adelphi Paper Hangings

The talented team who re-created some of the wallpaper for Strawberry Hill House – Adelphi Paper Hangings – have produced some stunning Parakeets and Pearls wallpaper for the newly released ‘Emma’ movie. Strawberry Hill staff interviewed Founder, Steve Larson for an insight into this artisan wallpaper company. 

What was the history and inspiration for the founding of Adelphi Paper Hangings? 

My business partner, Chris Ohrstrom, was involved with making historic paints; in the mid 1990s he became intrigued with block printed wallpaper.  A workshop on block printed wallpapers with a local historic group led to a printing demonstration project  at a local museum.  This was followed, in 1999, by the formation of Adelphi Paper Hangings. Chris and I were taken by the vibrant colours and bold patterns of late 18th and early 19th century wallpapers – and were intent on investigating the process to keep the tradition alive and viable.

Adelphi Paper Hangings works with some incredibly skilled artisans, using the same methods and materials employed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What skills and training are required to produce such a high level of craft making?  And why is this so important to maintain for the work you produce?

The skills required are a steady hand, patience and a knowledge of colour.  And the ability to see printing the same pattern all day as meditative – not monotonous.  To date, all staff have been art school graduates.

The paper you installed at Strawberry Hill House was in the Green Closet, a small room which Walpole used for keeping manuscripts and for writing letters. How did you go about creating and researching the paper for this project? And did you uncover any new findings during the process?

Of course, the Green Closet pattern was one of five patterns we reproduced for the house.  Three of these were flocked, including the Green Closet; the others were the red damask and the damask in Walpole’s bedchamber.  For the Green Closet we were provided with a small fragment of the original; from this we were able to develop the complete – quite small – pattern.  One element to this particular pattern which was new to us was the use of period pigments and finishes for the ground colour.  As with the other flocked patterns, we had the wool dyed to match the historic flock colours, made into yarn.  We then chopped the wool, in house, to approximate the traditional  length of 18th century flock.

Recently you worked on the new film ‘Emma’. What was your process behind researching and creating this commission?

The pattern used in ‘Emma’ is one which we’ve had in our line for many years, Parakeets and Pearls.  Chris purchased the original document at auction and, as with most of our other patterns, pattern transparencies were drafted for each of the four printed colours.  These transparencies were used to have the printing blocks laser engraved.

Fortunately for this pattern, the colours had not faded so formulating correct colours was relatively easy.  We opted not to use the traditional pigment for the bright green; at the time an arsenic derivative, Paris Green, was employed.

Have you any other commissions coming out and what can you share with us?

Currently we are developing several new patterns for George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in Virginia.  Several months ago we supplied papers for a film depicting the life of the British painter Louis Wain.

Many thanks to Steve Larson for answering our questions and providing such beautiful imagery.

Parakeets and Pearls


Strawberry Hill Quatrefoil


Strawberry Hill Plaid


Adelphi Paper Hangings, work in progress.

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Strawberry Hill House is internationally famous as Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture.