The Midland Grand Hotel, St Pancras, designed by George Gilbert Scott, completed during the 1870's and a remarkable example of High Victorian Gothic Architecture.The interiors are sumptuous, decorated extravagantly in the style of the period but sadly decayed after almost a century of neglect. During restoration and refurbishment a section of original wallpaper was discovered when an overmantel mirror was removed. We were asked to record, analyse and recreate the paper using the original materials and finishes by an enlightened client, under the guidance of English Heritage. The quality of the printing was extraordinary and the delicacy of the coloured glazes achieved an effect much like light through stained glass. The background was a pure 22carat gold leaf , laid onto a heavyweight rag water colour paper.
After three months of examination and experimentation we were finally able to work out how this glorious paper had been made and were able to replicate it at faithfully as was possible. This began with a workshop on gilding on paper, where I was joined by many friends and colleagues who soon became proficient at laying the delicate gold leaf onto the acid free paper substrate. The photograph shows some of the team, Mandy Awre, Debbie Wilkie, Maggie Solari and Victoria Topping. The coloured glazes were then applied through laser cut stencils of remarkable delicacy and finally the outlines and fine detail were printed and hand finished. On sunny days, the studio was full of glittering reflected light. We also hung the paper taking care not to damage the fragile gilded surface and finished by retouching along the joins where the thick paper showed a slight cut edge, just as had been done originally, we knew then that we had got it just right!