Image above: Illustration by Julia Rothman
I was one of those kids with a pretty extensive collection of scratch-n-sniff and fuzzy stickers. So it’s not surprising that I’m a fan of the new flocked papers on the market. Flocking is the technique of applying small fiber particles to any surface coated with an adhesive. Applied to paper, it gives a three-dimensional velour texture. Flocked wallpapers got a bit of a bad rap after their overuse in the ’70s, but they have come back with a vengeance — you can go the traditional damask route or more avant-garde, like the papers from the Timorous Beasties, or go for something with a modern feel, such as the flocked stripes from Lasari Flock. I got so inspired by all the flocking that I channeled my inner 5th-grade fuzzy-sticker-loving self and created my own flocked stationery. — Amy A.
Image above: Portion of wallpaper with rococo floral design in flock. England, about 1760, from the Victoria & Albert Museum
Flock — a powdered wool and a waste product of the woolen cloth industry — began to be applied to papers in about 1600. Leather hangings that were painted with gold or silver foil initially inspired the flocked papers, but they were created as a less-expensive alternative to cut-velvet wall hangings. It was a pretty big cost savings — flocked papers were half the cost of cut velvet (although they certainly were still a luxury item). An additional advantage to flock paper was that the turpentine used to affix the flock to the paper was a moth repellant, a huge bonus during a time when textiles were enormously expensive.
Image above: My first attempt at flocking! Soooo easy!
CLICK HERE for more history of flocked wallpaper + a DIY flocked stationery project!
Image above: Velvet flock from the 1940s from Secondhand Rose, $250
Creating flocked papers was a multi-step process that involved painting a background color onto paper or canvas, stenciling a design with slow-drying adhesive and finally scattering the flock over the adhesive. The real craze for flocked wallpaper occurred about 1715 to 1745 when the fashion began in France. Even Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s trend-setting mistress, had flocked wallpapers installed in her apartment at Versailles.
Image above: Portion of two flock wallpapers, one pasted over the other. England, about 1760 to 1770, from the Victoria and Albert Museum
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the paper wasn’t pasted directly to the wall. Instead, it was adhered to linen, which was attached to the wall using copper tacks. The showiest flocked papers had large pattern repeats — often 6 or 7 feet in length — and were often flocked in multiple colors. Flocked papers were fashionable until the mid-19th century. Their decline in popularity resulted from the Victorian obsession with maintaining cleanliness, and a washable “sanitary” wallpaper was preferable over the flocked papers.
Books to Read
Walls: The Best of Decorative Treatments — Love, love, love this book! I’m a huge fan of anything by Florence de Dampierre. Walls touches on nearly every wall treatment imaginable. It’s a must have.
Wallpaper: A History of Style and Trends — Great overview with beautiful pictures
The Papered Wall: The History, Patterns and Techniques of Wallpaper — This is a great book to have on hand if you’re a big wallpaper-history buff, but it’s a wee bit academic.
DIY Flocked Stationery
- unlined index cards
- flocking powder (You can find this in craft stores or online in a variety of colors. I used a brand that’s marketed for model building.)
- Japanese masking tape
1. Use the paintbrush to apply the glue to the index card (leaving room for a Japanese tape border).
2. Shake the flocking powder onto the glue, and then shake off the excess (just like applying glitter).
3. Create a border around your note card with Japanese tape.
Martha Stewart has a flocking kit that I checked out; the one I ended up with was geared to babies, so I stuck to the squiggly lines and the stars. The stickers serve as the adhesive, and you have sheets of the flock, which you press into the adhesive. It looks pretty, but there’s not much opportunity for creativity — you basically have to use the stickers provided.
Image above: Flocked stationery (with pretty peony from Sprout Home)!