I thought that it sounded too good to be true. I really did. How can you have awesome linens – tablecloths, napkins, placemats, pillowcases, and even bedsheets – without picking up so much as a needle and thread?
But then I read a great little how-to book called Making Paper & Fabric Rubbings by Cecily Barth Firestein. Not only did the book remind me of all those grade school classroom field trips to rub etchings off cemetery markers and gravestones, but I also had a chance to experience the ‘real’ brass rubbing first hand during a trip to Stratford, Ontario one year back in high school (since brass rubbing is apparently originally a British craft – or so they say – being able to work with brass rubbings in Stratford makes a lot of sense) and this book helped me to remember just how much fun the whole thing was. And easy.
So, as it turns out, I am a convert. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it really is easy to make great linens without any sewing required. I just needed to remember the fun art of rubbing and to think about it in a slightly different way. Instead of rubbing gravestone images onto paper, really gorgeous rubbings can be done on fabric to make great linens . (I suppose that it could make great clothes too, but I am going to have to give that a little more thought.)
All it takes is a colourfast crayon (wax based is best and if you can get your hands on some rubbing beeswax or some wax based colour fast pencil crayons, that is even better!), some textured items, and whatever linens you want to work on. (I strongly suggest trying this on a sample first… I learned from experience that there are a lot of factors that could make this project gorgeous or not-so-gorgeous. Better to be safe than sorry with this one and try a little sample first.)
And I have to say that this was really just one of those fun rainy-day activities for grown-ups and kids alike… it was kind of amusing to see just what textured items produced what kind of rubbings.
So, I started by grabbing a selection of textured items that I thought might look great on fabric. The book mentioned lace, so I started there and then went for a walk around the house to grab a picture frame and whatever else I could find. Here is a sample of what I came up with:
With paper in hand, I taped the textured lace to the table top (I didn’t tape anything heavy down because I didn’t find it slipped around all that much), placed my paper on top, grabbed a pencil, and started rubbing.
There were alot of things that didn’t work. But then again, I really liked the way that a couple of the lace rubbings turned out and grabbed my fabric to give it a try – before I worked on the final linen.
This is what I came up with in the end – I haven’t yet done this on the linens – I am still working on the sample pieces, but these are the rubbings that I think I will use whenever I decide what linens they should go on (please note that I used a soft pink cotton fabric and that is why the photos didn’t come out so well):