Beauty Recreated

USI alumna accepts wallpaper pattern restoration challenge

Beth Poole loves the dining room wallpaper in the East Side home she’s shared with her husband, Barry, for 28 years. Rolled sometime in the 1950s or ’60s, it features vertical green vines, with pink flowers, blue- birds, and butterflies.

Poole has always found the intricate pattern calming and nurturing. In fact, she owns a china set in Franciscan Desert Rose that resembles the walls. As the paper aged, she was determined to reproduce it.

The task seemed impossible. Even the person who would have decorated the house told Poole she couldn’t locate the pattern. Poole feared her pursuit had hit a dead end — that is, until she thought of a young woman who had attended preschool with her daughter, Grace.

Rachel Kercher graduated in spring 2023 from the University of Southern Indiana. Kercher performed lots of painting at USI while earning a degree in studio art. Poole had maintained contact with Kercher’s mom over the years, and when Poole sprung the idea of painting her dining room walls with the old wallpaper pattern, Kercher enthusiastically agreed.

“I am very blessed to say the least, it’s an opportunity I never thought I’d have,” Kercher says.

Kercher used a plumb line to create a vine pattern that nearly mimics what the wallpaper shows, and then added the flower, bird, and butterfly accents. She’s already spent several weeks on the project while also maintaining a job at Deaconess Midtown Hospital.

Kercher plans to finish by late July. The wallpaper recreation is her first project of this type, but she hopes it won’t be the last.

“I think it would be great [to do similar projects in the future],” she says. “This is kind of a turning point for me. I never thought to paint on anything but a canvas. I would love to paint on all kinds of things.”

Kercher would get a ringing endorsement from Poole, who’s thrilled that the pattern she adores will live on, albeit in a different form.

“I didn’t give up looking for 28 years,” she says. “It took 19 for the little 4-year-old that I knew to become an artist, graduate from USI, and be the one that finally said, ‘Yes, I’ll do this.’”

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