Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wallpapering Together

They say that the decision most likely to cause massive if not terminal domestic strife is innocently stumbled on when the couple decide to wallpaper together. I speak as a survivor.

Some background: as you know, HP was a nuclear scientist till he retired, and I am an artist until they carry me out. This means very different ways of seeing the world and intuiting it. He was a chemist which is good, because typically chemists have a great sensitivity to color, and he does enjoy my work hanging on the walls.

However, scientists tend to like the plan and design and THEN execute school of thought. Artists, at least my kind, are more along the lines of ready, fire, AIM! When you have one of each in a couple you have the makings of a very exciting time.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago, when HP's physio, the marvellous Emil, was here, and we had observed that one exercise which involves hoisting HP to his feet several times, with huge assist from Emil, also made HP's feet slip a bit, despite the athletic shoes, on the laminate floor. So I wondered if a section of nonskid shelf lining, often used in rehabs to make walker handles and chair arms nonskid, might work underfoot too.

Emil, ever open, despite his massive expertise, to learning anything new, was fine with trying it. HP the scientist said, oh, that won't work. No advance planning, no scribbled notes on paper, I guess was his reasoning. I said, well, let's just see.

It worked just fine. And E. commented, well that's the difference between the science and the art approach! in both cases, though scientists and artists are quite used to things not working quite as hoped, and persevering nonetheless.

And it took my memory right back, straight as an arrow, to the time we wallpapered the kitchen in the first house we owned. This was a house built in the 1920s with all the quirks you would expect in a Sears Roebuck kit house with extra ideas added in by the owner. The kitchen had three doors opening onto it, and the sort of walls that the passage of time has um mellowed, or bellied a bit, normal in a plastered house of that period.

So we had the wallpaper. Big cheerful sunflowers and green vines or something. Bear with me, it was the early 70s., this was All The Rage at that time. If you want to see almost the exact pattern, look at the DVD of Bob Newhart's first season of the Bob Newhart Show. I rest my case. And I will not mention the orange shag rug in the dining room. Or the forest green accent wall in the living room. Draw a veil over it is a good idea. Actually a veil would probably have been a good idea at the time, too.

Soooooo, the kitchen. I thought we should work around until we met, going in opposite directions. And my approach was to wet the paper, slap it up, gently shift it into position, cut it in at the ceiling and around the many obstacles, and it looked just fine. HP made many little diagrams with measurements and little arrows and runic inscriptions then transferred the diagrams fullsize onto the wallpaper, and THEN cut it out and applied it to the wall, and it looked fine.

Came the part where we were to meet, and he was horrified when I butted together the edges where we met, then cut around the flower motifs to make the join invisible. I wasn't exhibiting art at that point, that came later, but I had a feeling for how to fool the eye, anyway.

But HP never got over the fact that though my half of the room looked fine, which he conceded, I had cheated by failing to measure and mark ahead of time!!

Fast forward to the current artwork: freeform tapestry, no advance planning other than to gather up my handspun yarn in colors that like each other, and warping the frame with string. That's it. Now, there are tapestry weavers who have the HP approach, of planning and calculating the yardage and the psi concerns, and make a cartoon, that's a rough drawing, to install behind the warp to follow as they work.

I did try that at the outset, not wishing to assume I wouldn't like it, and I hated it. All the fun went into the drawing and all that was left was dull stuff! but to those who always work that way, make wonderful artworks, good for you.

Anyway, HP is finally reconciled to my working this way and now that he's seen a lot of results he thinks maybe it's okay after all. Particularly since I was just offered a solo exhibit in fiber works for Spring 2012, all my choice of items.

Adventure stretching ahead..


  1. Liz, thank you for the glimpse and chuckles! This reminded me of a time when my scientist ex and I made lasagne. Right-brained me showed many 'J' tendencies when he became inventive with his noodles, layering them *diagonally*! I surprised myself by wanting to do it so conventionally (so it would cook and cut properly, is all I can think), and he was amused by me going all crooked over his playing loose with it. It was a learning for us both. :)

    Love your new furscape, and congrats on your upcoming show!

    xo maj

  2. thanks for some great smiles! I can totally imagine that wall paper situation and it really made me giggle. hehehe

  3. And I wouldn't draw a veil over the orange shag rug, sunflowers, and dark green hallway - you must have loved it at the time - and that's what is important. I had a green and black bathroom around then - it was a nice green, the loo, the tub and the sink. Same green tile half way up then black tile all around the bathtub/shower area. Green walls above the black line around the rest. Perfectly hideous, but I liked it then. The girls thought it ever so neat to be the only folk on the block with a black wall around the tub. Whatever was I thinking of, I wonder.


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