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Designers Get Wild, Rediscover Wallpaper

October 03, 1998|From Associated Press

Wild animals and their habitats are favorite subjects for oil paintings and fine prints. Now, in a rising use of outdoorsy decorations for interiors, some artists have added another medium to their repertoire--wallpaper.

"Wallpaper gives people in the urban world an opportunity to see wild animals the only way they can," wildlife artist Glen Loates of Maple, Ontario, said. "Wallpaper is also a way for me to get the word out to remind people that we have a very enjoyable planet."

Loates, whose painting of an eagle graced the Oval Office at the White House during the Reagan administration, contributed to a new wallcovering collection by Sunworthy, a subsidiary of Imperial Home Decor Group.

The collection is called "A Brush With Nature" and includes designs featuring bears, moose, eagles and loons. The wildlife images are set off by textural elements with twig, leaf and berry patterns.

Sunworthy expects these dramatic wall coverings will appeal to the many people who are watching wildlife series on television, and buying products ranging from birdhouses to bearskins in retail shops and mail-order catalogs.

"We have been seeing wildlife on everything from plates to upholstery fabric lately," Malcolm Cooper, vice president of design at Imperial, said. "The botanical side and insects have been there for a long time, but endangered species and wild beasts have come along more recently."

Chesapeake Wallcoverings' "Echo Lake" is another new collection featuring the work of wildlife artists.

"The popularity of wildlife artwork for walls led us to think of it as a subject for wallcoverings," said Maurice Corchesne, owner of the firm, which hired well-known wildlife artists Robert Abbett and James and Robert Hautman to create scenes for the collection.

One of Abbett's designs depicts a hunting scene with pheasants and dogs. He also created three fishing vignettes, as well as a parchment-style wallpaper design featuring handwritten notes and fishing illustrations.

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Designs by the Hautmans include a primeval wilderness with a foraging black bear and a mountain lion. Other patterns portray waterfowl and songbirds.

The collection is especially suited to arts-and-crafts furniture and to masculine rooms currently in style, as part of the lodge look, Corchesne said.

"Although 97% of wallpaper is purchased by women, for certain rooms such as dens, studies, home offices and libraries, women like a masculine look," the company head said.

Another reason for the rising interest in wildlife wallpaper may be the growing rarity of the real thing in many people's lives.

As Corchesne put it: "People want to be able to look up and see some place or environment where they would rather be."

(Prices for Sunworthy's "A Brush With Nature" wallpaper collection range from $24 to $27 per roll, sold in double rolls only, or per 5-yard border spool.

Chesapeake's "Echo Lake" wallcoverings are $22.99 to $25.99 per roll, sold in double rolls only, and per 5-yard border spool.

Both collections are prepasted strippable vinyl and include coordinating fabrics.

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