The Fireplace Screen
Once a fashion statement,
always a fashion statement!
The fireplace screen. Who would have ever thought such a humble item could become such a fashion statement? Most of us love to sit by a fireplace, warming ourselves as we watch the crackling fire. People have been doing it for centuries. But as with almost anything, it has it's down side too. As the logs burn, bits of ash and sparks fly out of the fireplace onto the floor, carpet, or even people! To prevent this from happening, the fireplace screen was invented. These screens not only keep the embers in the fireplace but protects people, and their clothing, from getting too close to the fire.
The fireplace screen, although around for centuries, did not become an indispensable accessory until the 18th century. It was then that it became, not only a necessity, but also a decorative element of a room.
During the Victorian era, fireplaces were the primary source of heat. Fireplaces could be found in almost every room of a Victorian home. Screens were used to guide the heat to those who liked it warmer and away from those who liked it cooler. They also kept the ashes and sparks where they belonged, as well as hid the cinders, logs, or coal between uses.
During the warmer months, the screens, often called cheval screens, were used to cover the opening of the fireplace. And, as we know about those who lived in the Victorian era, a plain fireplace screen was NOT an option.
Victorian women used fireplace screens as a way to show off their skills in home decoration. They believed with a little creativity, an unused fireplace could become a thing of beauty. Screens became works of art. The frames and feet of the screen, generally made from mahogany, satinwood, or rosewood, were elaborately carved. The screens were made from a variety of materials, depending on the creativity and artistry of the maker. Solid wood, fabric, stained glass, and even paper-mache was utilized in making fireplace screens.
If the fireplace screen was solid wood, it could be hand-painted, gilded, or decorated in collaged style using all types of pictures which were glued on and then varnished over.
If the panel was made out of fabric, the decorator had a wide assortment to choose from. Embroidered tapestries were sometimes used. Women would also embroider panels of silk. These types of screens were often weighed down with heavy tassels along the bottom edge. They did not have to be made from expensive materials to look impressive. Many exquisite screens were made with leftover or recycled materials from other projects or objects.
Unfortunately, finding these wonderful fireplace screens today is very difficult. As mesh screens became popular, most of the handmade screens were considered "old fashioned" and thrown away. Thankfully, there are books, patterns and descriptions of the by-gone screens still available today.
To download a c1902 Victorian fireplace screen pattern with instructions, click on the following link. Please note this download is in .pdf format.
You will need Adobe Reader (the latest version is recommended) installed on your computer in order to open and read these instructions. You can get Adobe Reader here
(a new window will open so you can download without leaving this page).
If you want to open the file in your browser window, you can just click on the link. However if you want to download the file to view later, then right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save File As." Then select where you want to save the file on your hard drive.
Once you have saved the file, locate where you saved it, and double click to open.
In order to print, open the downloaded file, and select the "Print" option from the ebook menu.
If you have any problems with this download,
If you decide to make this fireplace screen, following the directions provided, and you wish to share a picture of your finished product along with any tips or tricks, please
with your information.
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