The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts


Wallpaper making


The making of wallpaper by hand, including carving the blocks, either into wood or lino, and printing from the blocks.


Status Endangered
Craft category  Paper
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised  UK
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees  0
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  0
Current total no. of craftspeople  4





Printing from wooden blocks: While companies such as Cole & Sons have an archive of their blocks to design from and refer to, they are not used today as working tools. There are no companies in the UK which currently print from wooden blocks – and perhaps only one in the USA who makes and prints from wooden blocks.

Printing from lino blocks: There is an artisan tradition of printing from hand-cut lino blocks. The design is laid out and cut into lino blocks, either in relief or intaglio. The paper is pre-coloured, paint is added to the block, and the design is printed, either with a handheld roller or a hand-planked printing press. There are three makers in the UK practising this technique.

Screen printing: There are some makers who produce wall paper by screen printing, but there is little history of this as a method of manufacturing wallpaper.


Local forms




Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • The demand for wallpaper is subject to changing tastes and fashion in interior decoration – block-printing currently seems to be in the zeitgeist.
  • Training: there is only one person running two introductory weekend courses a year in wallpaper making – while it is always fully booked and people very enthusiastic, rarely does anyone intend to set up a business or be serious in the craft.
  • It’s essential that those making block-printed wallpaper do so to the highest possible level. This includes the quality of the repeat design, the originality of the imagery, the mixing of inks, registration and presentation. People will only pay the premium attached to block-printed papers if the end result really sings.
  • Shortage of tools: The right machinery (offset litho press) is extremely difficult to either find or afford.


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known


Other information