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Play with Pattern

Monday, April 15, 2013

Make these simple stamped table linens for a reception, then use them for parties for years to come. Photographs by Marni Rothschild Durlach

April 15, 2013

Play with Pattern
Charleston’s Onawa Designs shows you how to create easy custom linens for your wedding event

written by Frances Bramsen

Dress your tables—be they for a shower, bridesmaids’ luncheon, rehearsal dinner, or reception—in a pretty, custom pattern like the ones above. Jessica Bauman of Onawa Designs, says the look is within your reach if you just follow these steps. And even better, all the supplies can be found right here in town, at either Artists and Craftsmen Supply or at any number of big box craft stores. If you try it, please be sure to tell us! And if planning’s got you overwhelmed, you can always hire Jessica to create them for you. For more images from this luncheon by Calder Clark Designs, click here.

Stamped Table Linens
• Tablecloth (cotton or linen are best as natural fibers absorb paints and dyes well)
• Pencil
• Carving tool
• Carving block
• Ruler
• Fabric chalk pencil
• Super Glue (or stamp adhesive)
• Wood block (the same size as the carving block)
• Heavy duty tape
• A large old towel
• Block printing ink (or acrylic paint)
• An old tray (and old cookie tray or plastic tray works well; your tray needs to be flat, wider than the brayer, and long)
• Brayer (a hard rubber roller)
• Scrap fabric
• Apron
• Rag
• Iron

Step One: Wash and dry your tablecloth according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Step Two: Sketch a design onto carving block with a pencil.

Step Three: Using Super Glue or stamp adhesive, affix the rubber block (the side without the design on it) to the wood block. Allow to dry.

Step Four: Cut around the design with the cutting tool so the only raised surface on the block is the outline of the design. The highest surfaces on the stamp are the ones that print, so carve down everything else. If text is involved, carve it backwards.

Step Five: Place the block where you’d like the pattern to appear on the tablecloth. Use a ruler as needed. Mark this placement with a chalk pencil, and repeat until you’ve covered as much of the linen as you care to. This grid allows you to place the block precisely and since you must move steadily when printing, this is an important step. Alternately print your patterns at random.

Note: For the Indian luncheon table toppers, Jessica carved a large block to use for the corners and a smaller block to create a horizontal band fashioned from repeated stamps that connected the corners. For more about patterns and how to lay them out, check out the books mentioned above.

Step Six: Prep your printing area: Tape the towel smooth across a flat, even table. Mix a batch of paint. (Mix enough for the whole project in order to get the same color all the way through.) Lay out the paint tray and brayer. Put on an apron and have a rag handy for cleaning up splatters.

Step Seven: Pour enough of the paint into the tray to coat the brayer evenly. Roll the brayer back and fourth until the paint equally covers the rubberized roller. Roll a coat or two evenly onto the carved side of the rubber block.

Step Eight: Flip the block over, carefully hover over the desired location on a scrap piece of fabric, and lower it, pressing down evenly. Give it a firm press or two all over the back of the block and lift up. (Tip: Test a couple prints until the desired look has been achieved before you start printing on the tablecloth.)

Step Nine: When confident, repeat this process of loading the brayer with paint, applying it to the block, and printing the block on the tablecloth until you have completed the desired pattern. Step 10: If you have used fabric paint for block printing, it will usually need to be set after you are done printing and the design has dried. Instructions are typically on the backs of the inkbottles and consist of running a hot iron over the pattern. (Acrylic paint does not need to be set.)  

Step Ten: Launder the linen once more and dress your tables!

Tip: If you are only able to print half the tablecloth because of your workspace or time, that’s OK. Set the tablecloth out to dry, seal your paint in its container, then wash your block and brayer. Start again once the tablecloth has fully dried.