I’ve scheduled some time off from work in a few weeks, and among other things, plan to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Maybe I sound like an old hippie to say this, but it blows my mind to see a Botticelli. And this is after having worked at the Art Institute, in the editorial department, and having spent many a lunch hour wandering around and poking my nose into every nook and cranny. It still blows my mind to see a Botticelli. Meanwhile, though, I spend most of my time at home or at work, not at the Art Institute, and more and more feel the need to create beauty in my daily life. I was standing at my tank-like Universal stove the other day, stir-frying, when I noticed the sheer hideousness of my kitchen towels, and determined to do something about it. Inspired by the blue-and-white color schemes in a wonderful book called “Country Kitchens & Recipes,” from Taschen, I have made some stenciled kitchen towels. I used two “Aunt Martha’s Old Fashion Flour Sack Towels,” some fabric paint from NEOPAQUE Artist Acrylic, and two stencils from a company called “Complements.” All these supplies were purchased at Joanne Fabrics. The towels, however humble, now brighten what had been a very dark corner, and I often think of Botticelli when I see them.
How-to’s: You will need two Aunt Martha’s Old Fashion Flour Sack Towels (washed and ironed), a bottle of NEOPAQUE Artist Acrylic in #584 Blue, stencils (BL-776 Galaxy and BL-803 Paisley Party), some double-stick tape, and a stencil brush.
Cover the work area with newspaper, and spread out an ironed dish towel. Affix the stencil to the towel with double-stick tape. Be sure to shake the paint well. Pour a little bit of paint into a clean jar lid from your recycling bin. Dip the stenciling brush into the paint, and test on a separate sheet of newspaper. Stencil the design onto the towel. Tip: The brush should be damp when stenciling, not wet with globs of paint. When done with one area, lift the stencil and re-position. Watch the edges of the stencil, taking care that paint doesn’t extend beyond the stencil. For this particular brand of paint, the towel had to be air-dried overnight, heat-set, and then laundered. Follow the instructions on whatever fabric paint you purchase.
Note: In the old days, stenciling was called “pouncing,” because it was done rapidly with the brush almost bouncing off the surface. Using very little paint, and “pouncing,” with the brush will yield sharp images. Practice on a piece of newspaper, and then on a scrap piece of fabric, so you will have a feeling for the process before doing the towels.