Our son, Kevin, and family are hosting a Friendsgiving at their home this year. While our 10-year-old granddaughter, Bridget, was with us during her school fall break, she and I made leaf-printed dinner napkins for the occasion. A dozen white cloth napkins, freshly fallen leaves, shades-of-gray metallic paint, and we were literally ready to roll.

Fabric painting is something I’ve really enjoyed doing with my grandchildren. Our first adventure was during Cousin Camp 2018 when Bridget, Seamus, Henry and Max colorfully hand-printed their camp t-shirts for the week. Last summer when Henry and Max were visiting from Seattle, they painted “firecracker” t-shirts for our hometown Fourth of July parade. The crafts were simple and quick – and not nearly as messy as you might think!

The degree of fall color varies each year, but this year the weather and the color has been beautiful. With cold weather just around the corner and leaves beginning to fall, Bridget and I went leaf collecting as soon as she arrived for her fall break visit. Luckily there were some great leaves for her to choose from on our one block walk outside our door in Madison, Indiana’s historic disctrict – maples, ginko, oaks and more.

The family’s special occasion china is white with silver and metallic gray, so I thought it would be a good idea to stick with those colors so that the napkins would work for any occasion or color scheme. I purchased white dinner napkins online, and picked up two shades of metallic gray paint at Hobby Lobby before Bridget arrived. I already had leftover fabric painting medium, a bucket of art paint brushes, styrofoam plates & wooden stirring sticks for paint mixing, a rolling pin for printing – and plenty of paper towels.

Bridget mixed the acryllic paint 2:1 with the fabric painting medium. After testing the colors, Silver and Galvanized Tin, she decided the silver was too light and didn’t show up well enough on the white background. She added a little of the darker paint to the silver and came up with a new “lighter shade” that she felt would work much better.

One by one, we painted the underside of the leaves and placed them onto the lower left corner of the unfolded napkins, covering them with a layer of paper towel. We used the rolling pin – three times back and forth – to press the painted leaves onto the fabric. Bridget carefully lifted the leaves from the fabric to expose the prints, and dried them on the backs of the dining room chairs. The paint dried quickly, and voila – we had a set of leaf-printed napkins!

Bridget and I had a fun morning creating the set of napkins for her family’s Friendsgiving table. Napkins would also be very pretty in the beautiful colors of the real fall leaves. If you’re looking for a fun project with your grands, I hope you’ll give fabric painting a try!

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.