Decorative Folding Screens at Adelphi

They have been a long time in the making, but we are very pleased to offer our interpretation of the traditional decorative folding screen.Chevron & Laurel screen

Our screens are available with 2, 3 or 4 panels. The standard height is 6 feet, but this can be adjusted as required; the width of each panel is determined by the pattern used. As with our wallpapers and borders, each screen is made to order. Clients can select any of our patterns, in any colorway plus specify colors to be used for the panel framework and reverse side panel.

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We particularly pleased with the special canvas hinging system we’ve developed. It is a modified and improved version of the hinges found on18th and 19th century screens that we have seen here and in France. Eminently functional, these hinges are visually unobtrusive and eliminate the need to disguise (i.e. paint), or attempt to ignore, the common metal hinges typically used today.

While some of the sample screens shown here and on the website feature a single sidewall pattern, perhaps trimmed with an appropriate border, we would like to encourage clients to consider experimenting with combinations of two or three patterns.

Screens of the 18th century typically incorporated several patterns such as this one using the Locust Grove Arabesque, Prince-Rollins Marble and trimmed with the Reveillon Border.

Locust Grove Arabesque

Folding Screens and Wallpaper

As with most of our work, these screens take their inspiration from historic models. After its introduction to Europe from China, folding screens became a fixture in well appointed households. From the beginning there was a natural affinity between wallpaper and screens.

In the 18th century, wallpaper was not adhered directly to the wall but was mounted on a wooden frame on which canvas had been stretched. These panels were then attached to the wall. The same craftsmen who constructed and covered these wall panels also made folding screens as decorative objects and movable partitions.

Perhaps it’s simply that wallpaper is printed in widths of roughly the same size as conventional screen panels that make the pairing so easy.  Whatever the reason, screens are a very clever and convenient vehicle for displaying a bit of pattern and color in a room—and easily moving it if the need arises.

Part of the inspiration for this addition to our product line came from visitors to the Adelphi workshop in Sharon Springs. First time visitors usually start their tour by lingering around the presses, asking Michele, Jenn or Dave questions about the technique of block printing, etc.  Eventually though they’ll wander into the smaller of the two workrooms, glance to the right at papers tacked to the wall…then to the left.   It’s never long before they notice something else in the room and always ask: “Oh, did you make that, too?”

Alas, no.  What they’ve spotted is the decorative folding screen by the lunch table.  The screen was found by a friend of the company in Toronto and has been in the workshop ever since.

Though it’s covered with sections of what appears to be a scenic wallpaper and trimmed with an early 19th century neo-classical dado and block printed border, the date of manufacture is open to question.  “Manufacture” is not meant to imply that it came from the hands of professional upholsterer or furniture maker–it’s decidedly a homemade project. The vertical borders as well as the decoration on the reverse side are clearly hand painted. The screen does feature canvas hinges, although less refined than our version.

We see decorative folding screens as having the potential to provide a very individual and tangible focus to a room.  At the same time the process of designing our screens–the combining of colors and patterns to be used–presents an unusual opportunity for collaboration.  Please free to contact us with your ideas.

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2 Responses to Decorative Folding Screens at Adelphi

  1. John Staicer says:

    Love the updated website – nicely done. It’s great to see the Persian Volute and Pineapple papers – I feel like I’m in the Costigan House in Madison, IN! Keep up the great work.

  2. Christine Woods says:

    I thought this very interesting and think that we should have something about screens in the next issue of The Wallpaper History Review.

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