Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Dad was manager of the Interior Decorating Department at a local department store, and every season he brought home the samples that had been discontinued. We had carpet and wallpaper books to play with, delicious pamphlets showing the outdated laminex fashions, and sample books of the new-fangled printed vinyl that you could use for shower curtains or tablecloths.

This was the age of embossed and flocked wallpaper, and enormous murals of Greek ruins and desert vistas. We adored these, and desperately wanted Dad to paper our walls with these emotive scenes, but they were too expensive.

Our enterprising mother duly covered all our school exercise books with wallpaper and vinyl samples, and those patterns were ingrained into my subconscious over the years. I seem to have spent most of my time at school colouring in the designs on my book covers, mad with boredom at the lessons. I wonder if I developed my love of design from those patterns I studied so deeply, or if I just inherited it from my father. Hard to tell. I do know that the lessons left few memories, and the designs have stayed with me.
These sort of painted roses just tug on my heartstrings no matter where I see them; sheets, bone china, postcards, fabrics....

Note the 3-D appearance on the back of the samples. One of the ways I used to amuse myself was to see the leaf veins as popping out, and then try to see them as sinking down into the leaf. It takes a while, but suddenly it seems to change dimension, and you can't understand how you couldn't see it before. I have this ability to be able to imagine what a line drawing will look like as a3D object, which is really useful when I'm designing my quilting patterns; maybe I developed that knack from these dimensional wallpapers.

Meredith, when photographing these books for my post, discovered that within the binding of them is a 2" piece of every sample that was left when Mum cut out the page. Deconstructing the book will let us see all those familiar and loved patterns again. We'll have to think about whether we want to destroy what remains of the binding, not an easy decision.

Incidentally, at the time I cried bitter tears because Mum wouldn't buy brown paper coverings for our books, like all my friends had. I must have been shallow.


Michele Bilyeu 6:56 AM  

Oh Keryn! What a lovely post! And you are and never could have been shallow. You were and are just so deep, that you could always see more sides of things, more depth, more dimensions than others could and that is why you saw so many ramifiations of meaning at once. You were blessed to have had such richness shared with you in childhood but I think it is a combination with inner gifts that has made you so creative and inspiring today!

Joyce 9:34 AM  

Lucky you with all those wallpaper samples. I'm sure they had more of an influence on you than plain brown paper would have! Lucky too, to have a Dad who knew about design.

Sarah 2:18 PM  

Your last paragraph made me laugh because I was deprived in a different, but similar way. My mom would not buy canned cake frosting, but always made hers from scratch.

meggie 3:28 PM  

Oh the memories those wallpaper samples brought back!
I used some to cover my daughter's doll's house walls, & one of the flocked ones, for carpet in one room. Thank you for this post, it really made me smile.

Jenni 4:50 PM  

Not shallow, just wanting to conform.

meresy_g 6:36 AM  

How lucky that you have all that fantastic old wallpaper! I see the backgrounds for little shadowboxes or coasters. Lots of things you could do with that. I wonder if children still cover their books with brown paper or if all bookcovers are purchased now and feature some corporate character.

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