arsenic 87

If subtly is your thing, here’s a very delicate and subtle arsenic paper, with skulls gently blooming on the vine. I love this one and was super excited when I had the vision of replacing the buds on the vines with little skulls. Scroll down for a preview of it as wallpaper!

Wallpapers made with pigments from arsenic—it was a thing in the 19th century! And now you can pay tribute to your colorful goth side in these patterns but without the risk of dying from them.

The base pattern for this design comes from the 1874 volume compiled by R.C. Kedzie, Shadows from the walls of death: facts and inferences prefacing a book of specimens of arsenical wall papers. The book was digitized in full by the amazing staff at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and can be viewed at You can also read more about the book and its preservation and digitization in the blog series at (links to parts 1 and 2 are at the end of this post). The skulls interposed in this pattern are my addition and are taken from J.G. Heck’s 1852 Iconographic encyclopaedia of science, literature, and art, digitized in full by the Smithsonian Libraries and available at

Wallpaper, fabric, and various household goods from this pattern are available for purchase at Spoonflower.

It seems to work exactly as I hoped as wallpaper—it looks totally innocent until you get a closer view. I’m tempted by this one, to be honest.