George K. Birge Table of Contents

Recollections of an Artist Working for the Birge Wallpaper Company
By Bettie Yoder Zoschke
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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Variation #1

Variation #2

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Variation #7

All Birge wallpaper samples were painted by the author

It had to be in 1945, just before the war was over.

The boss would come in and he would have a design -- just the design, not even always in color -- and he would have us either paint something that was already in a wallpaper book, or he might say, "Here's an ad in a magazine. I like the colors in this ad. Do six of the green, six of the yellows, six of the browns," or whatever.

So then we would take the pattern, and we would only paint a small segment of it, and we would work out all these different color schemes. For instance, here's a pattern in about eight different colors, and those were probably taken into the conference room and they'd determine which ones that they were actually going to use in production. If you look in a wallpaper book, you'll see that there often is a selection of a pattern in different colors.

The samples for the wallpaper designs were actually painted on old pieces from rolls of paper that they had actually printed the wallpaper on. The paints that we used for the samples were actual piants that they used, and we would use the lightest colors that they had, something like tempera paints, but more prominent.

Florals were always popular. A lot of patterns were taken from original designs from Colonial times -- paper they would find in old houses

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