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Jessica’s Garden: Homemade Christmas Gifts

Fruit Stamped Tea Towel
Fruit Stamped Tea Towel

Some of the staff at Behnke Nurseries thought it would be interesting for me to share one of my latest crafts and how-to-instructions. Some of my favorite crafting creations have come from unusual and unexpected inspiration. I love taking something from nature and bringing it indoors to combine our outside world with our inside world. I think that sometimes it’s easy to forget to really appreciate the beauty that is around us in the everyday and the ordinary.

Stamped Flour Sack Tea Towel

Several years ago, I saw a page online where someone had adorned plain cotton table linens with silhouettes stamped from fresh fruit segments. I thought they were such simple creations but also so delicate and beautiful and have since wanted to give the project a try myself.

While shopping a couple of weeks ago for house essentials, I passed by an offer I could not resists. I saw packs of five plain white flour sack tea towels–they were calling to me. So I bough eight packs….

While living on a budget, the only way our family survives the expense of the holiday season is through homemade Christmas gifts. And I don’t mean macaroni picture frames. I put a lot of time, thought and effort into creating gifts year after year that are different than years passed. Among the many other tricks I have up my sleeves this holiday season, I have started working on putting together my flour sack tea towels stamped using seasonal fruit.

Multi Surface Acrylic Paint

This project would be a great family activity for older children and parents to do together. In order to have presentable looking gifts, my three year old son was not a candidate for a crafting partner this particular day.

First things first, pick up plain linen or cotton table linens. These could be anything including tablecloths, table runners, place mats, cloth napkins or tea towels. I chose the flour sack tea towels because I am partial to rustic country crafting. Not to mention, they were pre-washed and pre-shrunk; a quick trip in the dryer was enough to erase any wrinkles.

You’ll want to choose your fruit and paint next. Fall’s seasonal fruit are excellent choices for this project. You will need fruit that is under-ripe and firm as well as dry-textured; no citrus or berries, etc. I chose to work with quince, Granny Smith apples and Bosc pears. I used a brand of multi-surface acrylic paint and chose earthy colors similar to the fruits I chose; avocado green, hunter green, butternut yellow, and brick red. I also used a navy blue for mixing with to create darker custom colors rather than black.

Apple and Quince Stamps

Once the fruit has been selected, it’s ready to be turned into unique homemade stamps. I sliced the pears in half lengthwise, leaving the stem in place which left the silhouette of the quintessential pear. The apples I treated a little differently.

Two apples were used for my project– one cut lengthwise like the pear and the other in half through the middle to create a cross section image. The quinces were particularly attractive when cut through the middle, leaving a stamp that resembled small flowers.

Remove as many of the loose seeds as possible, being very careful not to break any of the membranes inside the fruit as not to ruin the integrity of the stamp. Leaving attached seeds is fine; they show up as small dots once imprinted. Once fruit has been cut and de-seeded, lay cut side down on porous paper such as newspaper or a brown paper bag to drawn out as much moisture as possible. Stick a small fork in each piece of fruit to act as a handle. Every once in awhile, gently clean out the seed cavities from paint buildup with the tip of a knife or a toothpick.

It’s time to stamp. Using 1” foam brushes, apply an even and thorough paint coat to fruit, being cautious not to paint a thick layer; thick paint will not keep stamped image sharp and detailed. Try out your technique on plain paper first before diving right into stamping your linens. Press stamp straight down onto surface; do not drag or move as this will ruin the crispness of your imprinted image, and apply even pressure. Carefully with one hand, hold onto linen while with other carefully lift fruit stamp. And there you have your first stamped image; simple, elegant, natural and beautiful. Stamp in any design you wish and let fully dry. Once dry, I folded mine and tied them up with twine and lace; you can never have too much of either when crafting rustic-style.

Tea Towels Packaged for Gift Giving

From experience, if placed on a paper plate and stored in a ziplock bag, these stamps will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you wish to take a break or do more later down the road. It’s a great and inexpensive gift. The end result is adorable and functional. Sometimes, I think we can end up with too many trinkets and dust collectors. It’s nice to be given something that’s decorative as well as useful and of course homemade. And if you wish, I also have them available on my Etsy shop, ToadstoolsandThyme.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Adorable tea towels! Looks like a fun project for my neighborhood girlfriends to do prior to a brunch at my house! Where did you find the flour sack tea towels? Thanks,Jan

  2. Great idea, especially when you have a lot of teachers to give presents to for the kids. I shared with Facebook friends, did not know you had an Etsy shop, will have to look that up

  3. Thank you Peggy and Jan. They are fun to make and make wonderful gifts for people like co-workers or teachers. I know several places sell these packs of flour sack tea towels. I have a girlfriend who stamps her children’s handprints for grandparent’s Christmas gifts too. I have personally seen them available at Walmart and target. I hope if you get the chance to make them, you enjoy the project. It’s a great interactive project with kids too or other adults too of course. A girls night project would be perfect. . And yes, I just got my Etsy shop up and running! They are also available there under ‘ToadstoolsandThyme.’ Thank you both for reading my article!

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