Mary Hill “Polly” Forcier is a teacher, artist, and historical preservationist who has dedicated the last four decades to promoting the historical art of wall stencil painting. She is the founder of MB Historic Decor, a company offering more than 700 historically-accurate reproduction wall stencils recorded from original wall paintings in addition to paints, brushes, and other supplies. Her passion for early American decorative arts was sparked in part by her mother, a talented tinware artist, and Ms. Forcier recalls watching her mother work as a young child and “falling in love with the smell of turpentine” as she learned to paint as well. Ms. Forcier began nursing coursework at Simmons University before leaving school to marry and start a family. Concerned that she had not completed her education, Ms. Forcier’s mother gifted her prized collection of painting books and supplies to her and encouraged her to begin taking lessons at the League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts.
After more than a decade of study, Ms. Forcier had become a skilled tinware artist in her own right, and was admitted into the Historical Society of Early American Decorations after submitting two completed painted trays. Her tinware painting ability gave rise to her love for stenciling after she and her husband moved into a circa-1790 home with partially-stenciled walls. Rather than hang wallpaper, Ms. Forcier borrowed a copy of a period-accurate stencil from a historian friend, and her passion for the craft was born. Eventually, Ms. Forcier developed a reputation as not only a gifted artist and restorationist, but a resource on the art form itself, working alongside area historians and researchers.
Since 1986, Ms. Forcier has taught wall stenciling classes and led MB Historic Decor in addition to taking on freelance stencil painting work. Her work has been featured in “Interior Decoration for Historic Homes,” 2002, and is on display in her area post office and other historic buildings in the area. An in-demand lecturer and authority on the craft, Ms. Forcier has presented for the Historical Society in Belmont and the Historical Society of Early American Decorations, and is an advisor and historian for the Center for Painted Wall Preservation at the Norwich Historical Society. Ms. Forcier attributes her longevity and success to her genuine love of the art, and has turned her focus more to preservation and educational efforts in recent years.
That is a wonderful story about a remarkable woman.