The bookshelf wallpaper design story starts in January 2014 when I started work on one of my very first wallpaper designs the Wye Vintage Bookshelf Wallpaper. The design was to be loosely based around one of my favourite places in Wales, the market town of Hay-on-Wye. Dubbed as the ‘town of books it hosts the yearly ‘Hay’ literature festival and boasts more bookshops and books than anywhere else in the world. There is something magical about this place, its cobbled streets are brimming with period bookshops and its always been a favourite of mine since I was small.
Having decided to feature old vintage books we eagerly set off in search of suitable treasures to photograph. I always try and photograph whatever I am working on in the early stages of my designs as it helps me focus. If its a bookshelf wallpaper then its natural for me to shoot rows of bookshelves so where better to start! After spending all day hunting high and low we had managed to collect a box full of lovely old battered hardbacks. The books ranged from small personal diaries to large and very beautiful gold leafed bibles creating a beautiful contrast.
After returning from Hay-on-Wye I quickly set about arranging and photographing the books over the next 3 weeks in different positions on one of my old pine bookshelves at home. The original Wye dark bookshelf wallpaper was shot first and I set about arranging books in different positions in order to find the right balance over the three shelves. Correct lighting was crucial as I really wanted to give the viewer a sense of standing in front of an old bookcase. So I wanted shadows however it was really difficult to get the balance just right, trial and error with my trusty lighting kit was the only way I could make this moody look work.
The same vintage books featured in the dark wallpaper were also used in the white version. All we did was paint them using the Annie Sloan ’01.Old white’ and ’33. Original’ chalk paints. After painting I shot them once again on the same bookshelf using different book positions. For the white version I particularly liked the warming vanilla tones of the old pages against the high contrast of the white areas.
After the photography stage I move on to the computer where I painstakingly cut each book out from its pine bookshelf background, colour manage then arrange the final artwork onto a bookshelf that I created. For the classic dark bookshelf version I used a solid black background which really worked well. And for the painted books white version I used an old timber texture with a neutral grey background. The dark books wallpaper is my favourite as its such a classic design.
Each of the old books are captured just as we found them on that sunny day at Hay-on-Wye they continue to remind us of their history and each book still has a story to tell…