Penny Kirkup of Paperhands, the Martinborough company creating handcrafted wallpapers. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

A century on from the birth of a Wairarapa design guru, a talented team of handcrafters have brought his designs back home.

This year marks a century since the birth of William Mason.

Mason settled in Carterton and, with his wife Maureen, set up a successful handprint business.

The company, Mason Handprints, thrived in Wairarapa, and its Wellington store became the first Resene ColorShop, as the company bought out the Masons’ shareholding on their retirement.

Fashion had wallpaper fall out of favour, but a shed just off Lake Ferry Rd hides one of Mason’s successors and the rebirth of his craft.

The building, erected earlier this year after a journey down State Highway 2 from Hawke’s Bay, is the new home of Paperhands.

The Martinborough company produces hand-printed wall coverings which are proudly displayed in several Wairarapa cafes, bars, and prominent buildings.

Paperhands moved out of the town centre earlier this year.

Owner Ben Masters said the new premises were well set up for handcrafting wallpaper.

The company has been in business for a decade, and the Wairarapa wallpaper story has gone full circle.

Masters’ company now provides a range of Mason Handprint designs.

He said demand had increased again as people wanted to add colourful features to their homes and businesses.

“When we started doing this, we could see that people were using it more in New Zealand.

“Up until the 60s and 70s, there was a lot of wallpaper still being used.

“By the 90s, I don’t know what happened to the market, but it must have halved, at least, I should think.

“There were two or three small New Zealand wallpaper producers doing more interesting things.

“William Mason was one.”

Paperhands has since worked with Resene to create a small range of Mason designs.

All Paperhands’ creations are visible at buildings throughout the region, including Martinborough’s town hall and the French Bakery in Greytown.