I never quite know what I’m going to find in Grandma’s Attic, which I like to position as a cutesy salvage shop and not what it really is, as in literally… my Grandma’s attic. I venture-slash-sneak up there from time to time when she hosts holiday events, and spend some time rummaging through lost and forgotten about items, treasures, vintage tools, and random textiles (to capture for my own pad, which she’s generally fine with); it was on my last visit that I swiped this pair of never-been-used yellow linen napkins.
She has the cutest taste, and I can’t imagine why the set of 2 was never used for a sweet little backyard picnic or at the kitchen table for dinner with Grandpa, but they clearly were forgotten about beneath a pile of junk, complete with original price tags. I’d date them back to at least the early 1980’s because (according to Wikipedia) Sattler’s Department Stores in Buffalo closed down in 1982. Meaning that these napkins are older than me. And here they were, never unfolded buried in a pile of stuff.
And judging on the markdown, she got a good deal. Sale shoppin’. I’m pretty sure this is where I get my thrifting habits. Go, Grandma, go.
If it had been a set of 4 or 8 I probably would have saved all of them for use on my own deck, and maybe that’s why she never put them to use, but with just two on hand, I decided to make something neat from them.
The only issue was the yellow. I really like my dark yellows and golds, you know, but the screaming bright yellow was too much. No big deal, I had a 50% off coupon for JoAnn’s (since I had already bought up as many succulents as I could stomach for this wreath project) and I stopped in to peruse the fabric dye section. I was actually surprised to see more varieties than just the gool ol’ RIT dye, and a wider selection of colors at that. I guess I haven’t bought fabric dye in a long time, although I have toyed with the idea of re-dying some old jeans to make them dark again. Only wanting to tint the fabric subtly to subdue the almost-flourescent brightness of the original napkins, I brought home the gold ochre shade by iDye.
Happy to report that the dye was the easiest, least messy dye I’ve ever, ever, ever used. Because I have a top-load washer, I filled it with just enough water for allow the pre-washed napkins to float in, and then dissolved the self-contained packet in the water before adding the fabric to the machine. I followed iDye’s recommendations to allow a second wash cycle before letting the rinse cycle activate, and then washed regularly before drying the finished napkins in the sunshine on the deck.
The change in color looks subtle to you, I’m sure of that – but in reality the toned down color ended up being much more aligned with my gold-infested color palette.
The evolving plan was to use the 16″ square napkin as a canvas, painting something striking or meaningful to hang in my stairwell. It did take a few weeks to come up with something that I liked the concept of and could DIY with the paints I had in-house.
The decided pattern would be the simple but lovely, classic Orla Kiely print. If you know me, you know I drool over her products, and own one of her clutches, computer bags, and totes. Obsessed, I’ll tell you, and I’ll also point out that many, many products were on sale on her site recently.
Measured into three columns, I started with a light gray stem and proceeded with hand painting the leaves slowly over the course of a few days. My strategy was to paint a small leaf, and expand it slowly in every direction until it’s proportions were right on.
No harm. It still turned out awesomely if I do say so myself. It’s going to be part of an updated wall gallery that hopefully will be done over the weekend. See that piece of blue tape? Blue tape = work in progress.
I have grand plans to build a square custom frame for it at some point, but to give it a test run in in the gallery, I just applied using some too-cute pink thumb tacks that I had on hand. And maybe it’ll stay like that.
P.S. Any of you wild O.K. lovers out there? Is there a self-help group that I should link up with?