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The Waltzing Waratah Story


In December of 2012, we were contacted by a couple in Australia who were interested in ordering a floorcloth from our portfolio as a means of assessing our product with the intention of working with us on some custom pieces. We made Leaded Glass for them and shipped it off in early January.


Leaded Glass Floorcloth

Leaded Glass Floorcloth

They responded with an email that contained a copy of the Wunderlich Metal Ceiling Catalog, circa 1912. Wunderlich Ceilings operated in Australia from about 1892 to the 1950’s and their products were widely deployed throughout the country. The catalog contains many examples of gorgeous designs that are highly adaptable to floorcloth patterns. After much consideration, the clients identified this design as a starting point:

Wunderlich 920, Original Ceiling Tile Image

Figure 920 - Wunderlich Ceiling Catalog

The measurements for the floorcloth are about 6” 7” x 11’ 3”. We looked at a couple of different versions of how the design might translate from a size perspective and decided on a floorcloth structure something like this:

Wunderlich 920; floorcloth concept

Proposed Floorcloth Structure

The client wanted us to incorporate a motif based on the Waratah flower, the national flower of New South Wales, into the floorcloth design. We had never heard of a Waratah flower, and looked at hundreds of images of the plant itself (thank you, Google Images) as well as many stylized versions of Waratah. We decided on this stunning photo (less stunning here due to limitations on our ability to copy it) as our starting point.

Waratah Photo

Waratah Photo

Now, it was time to break down the floorcloth into its elements and create drawings of each that could be the basis for stencils. Here are the three major elements of the floorcloth and then those elements assembled into the proposed structure:

Waratah Motif

Waratah Border Element

Corner Element Concept

Corner Element

Original Center Concept

Original Center Element

Waratah FC Composite

Floorcloth Composite

We received a lot of excellent input from the client that enabled us to refine the concept to the point that we were ready to create stencils.

Cutting Corner Stencil

Cutting Corner Stencil

In order to go to the sample stage, we needed to determine the palette for the piece. The client suggested this image of a Waratah from “Australia Flora in Applied Art” as a color guide.

Color Guide

Color Guide

We used the Sydney Harbour Paint Company Color Wheel to communicate about color, and agreed on their Ochre as a background color. We were generally pleased with how the sample was coming until we added the center element. We felt that on its own, it is a great motif, but much too active for the center element of this piece.

Sample 1

Sample 1

Back to the drawing board.

Sample 2

Sample 2

We had trouble taking the Waratah flower heads to the peachy orange color from the color guide as all of the photos we had seen of the Waratah suggested more of a vibrant red, but ultimately felt the whole piece would hang together better with orange rather than red as a primary color component.

Sampel 3

Sample 3 -Orange flower heads laid over original red heads

The client approved the sample with a few planned tweaks production began.

Stenciling Border

Stenciling Border

Almost Done

Almost Done

Finished Floorcloth

Finished Floorcloth

Border Element

Border Element

Corner Element

Corner Element

Center Element

Center Element

Here is a photo of the floorcloth in its home where it fits perfectly into the frame of the parquetry floor.

In Situ Floorcloth

In Situ Floorcloth