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Travertine Texture from Vanderwalker


Rough Wall Textures Since 1900

"Of the many beautiful rough textures in wall finishes being used today, perhaps the most artistic are not the newer patterns but those which have come down to us through the ages. As originally done, such finishes were executed in mud, cement and lime plasters of varying compositions, Today they are done with materials which are more nearly related to paint than to plaster..." 
F. N. Vanderwalker, 1924 
Writing in "Interior Wall Decoration" 90 years ago, Fred Norman Vanderwalker chronicles the history and development of rough decorative textures, which date back to ancient Greek and Roman times, and attributes the lasting appeal of these finishes to the increased visual interest that texture imparts to a flat, smooth surface by modulating both color and light. 
While we tend to think that acrylic decorative textures are a fairly recent development, it becomes clear from reading Vanderwalker's work that the use of "plastic" paint materials to render decorative wall textures in American homes goes back 100 years or more. In those days, textures were concoctions based on glue, linseed oil, plaster of Paris, flower paste, or rosin. There were also a number of commercially available dry-mix textures including Textone (U.S. Gypsum), Craftex, Stuc-O-Tint and several others. 
Today, we are fortunate to have waterborne acrylic binders that allow us to produce an impressive range of surfaces. What has not changed since Vanderwalker's time, however, is that the key to aesthetics lies in knowledge of design principles. Vanderwalker points out that the versatility of materials allows for the creation of both "conventional" and "novelty" finishes, but cautions that for best results that the painter stick to finishes of "tried and proven merit." 
The image in this article has been taken from Vanderwalker's book and is of a Roman Travertine finish that has been "...marked off in blocks." Even 90 years ago, decorative painters were creating faux brick from "plastic" textures.


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