Dyeing Vintage Napkins

I’m always on the lookout for linens when I’m out thrift shopping. I’m really attracted to the  damask pattern which are usually white. They remind me of home. On special occasions Mom would get out the iron, starch up one of her tablecloths, and drape it on the dining room table. For some reason I don’t remember the napkins, but sure did love the tablecloth.

I’ve amassed a bunch of these napkins so Saturday I dyed some. I have a good collection of regular thrift cloth napkins since we use them every day, but I didn’t have enough of the same kind for a small get together we are having next month with some ole friends. I thought it would be nice for all of the napkins to match, but not necessary be the same color. And I didn’t want to leave them white, so I did some low immersion dyeing.

napkins in the dye
Napkins waiting for wash out

I had ice dyed these two vintage napkins earlier. They are in my exhibit at the library.

Ice dyed vintage napkins
Ice dyed vintage napkins

They took the color wonderfully and you can see the design but it’s really in the background. I thought the napkins I dyed Saturday were from the same bunch, but they weren’t.

What a surprised when I rinsed them out.

Newly dyed vintage napkins
Newly dyed vintage napkins

I had no idea the pattern would resist dyeing! I had planned to marble over them, but I think they are too pretty to mess with. I was playing it safe with the above dye colors. So for the last two napkins I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and mix some of the colors and add two colors together. And I love these!

dyed vintage cloth napkins

I’ve found lately that when I really try to control my dyeing (or any artistic endeavor), I’m not as happy with it. Just like these two, I just started mixing colors and then poured them on top of the napkins. I love the surprise.

That said, I’m not disappointed with the solid color napkins, but they just reminds me of what I get when I play safe. Pretty, but not really me.

Now to dye the tablecloth. Not sure what color it will be. Any ideas? And do you find in your art that you play safe?