This fabulous antique embossed leather screen made the cover of this months’ Traditional Home Magazine by Designers Ann Shipp and Roger Higgins, owners of R. Higgins Interiors and is a great inspiration piece for a classical interior. Rather than creating a screen though I would use embossed leather in wall panels. In my Historic Preservation Essentials post I mentioned the company Lutson Goudleder which has the most amazing ‘real’ embossed leather.
Or, you can create a faux embossed leather by applying tissue paper over an embossed stencil design. It gives it a very nice leather texture.
For this young boy’s bedroom we used the tissue paper on the embossed design below the chair rail and the plain leather above the chair rail.
Depending on the sheen of the walls, it’s often helpful to treat them with wallpaper sizing, which will help in the removal of tissue later on and will also give you more working time while applying the tissue.
1. After you have embossed your stencil design, the first step is to crumble tissue paper into tight balls. To figure the amount of tissue needed for a certain room, keep in mind that one standard sheet will cover about 5 square feet of wall space. So, to figure the required amount, first determine the square footage of your walls, then divide by 5 (Packs of 1,000-count sheets can be purchased from paper supply dealers for less than $50.)
2. Affix tissue to the wall, using either wallpaper paste or heavy-duty clear paste or Faux Effects Setcoat. In applying the paste to the wall, it’s generally best to work in an area that’s a little larger than two sheets of tissue paper. Start at the edge of your panel area and unfold the tissue. Hold by the top two corners so it slightly overlaps the panel edge. Then tack it lightly into the paste. Pull down carefully and touch the bottom two edges to the wall so that it’s fairly straight. Smooth out the tissue with your hand, a brush or a roller. Be careful not to rip the paper; if you do, carefully peel off the sheet and replace. Don’t smooth out the crease in the sheet; and to create more creases, push the tissue paper upward toward the top from the bottom edge.
3. To join pieces apply more paste to the wall and on about an inch of the tissue paper already on the wall.
4. Put the tissue on as before making sure it overlaps the pieces already on the wall by an inch or so.
5. In an area where you don’t need a full sheet, fold the paper to size and slightly wet the crease, it will tear very easily.
6. If there is an area of tissue that doesn’t look good (a holiday), cut it out, apply a little paste and patch it with new tissue.
7. Allow the tissue to dry for at least 24 hours before painting.
8. Roll a base coat over top of the tissue using latex paint in an eggshell finish or Faux Effects Setcoat. And paint just as you would any wall. Make sure the paint completely covers the embossing. Let dry for two hours.
9. Now add a glaze coat with a roller and use a clean cotton cloth to wipe off glaze and push it in and around the creases.
10. The final step is to apply the metallic gold highlights. Depending on the intricacy of the design you may be able to do it quickly using a flat brush and carefully brushing over the high places. If your design is more intricate, as our gothic design was, we brushed it with an artist’s flat brush.