I am really excited to share the process of how we ended up with these napkin menus at one of my weddings a couple of weeks ago.
These have been such a labor of love that the bride Catye, her mother Tracye, and I have been working on/brainstorming/dreaming of for several months. I know what you are thinking…they are just napkins- get over it. But I can’t. So I’m dragging you along with us for the ride- I even made a point to photograph (with my real camera, yes- I have a real DSLR camera now!) some process shots so you too can be insane and make some ridiculously gorgeous napkins too.
But first, let’s go back in time to where this idea started. Catye pinned an image of a menu printed on a napkin and knew this was something she wanted to have at her wedding. While working on her design presentation I knew that I wanted the napkin to be a blush pink to play off the white chargers and the natural wood tables. I started hunting down the perfect blush napkins to purchase. That was the tricky part- I have a million and one sources for renting napkins, but buying…notsomuch. And we obviously were going to need to buy them since we were going to be stamping the menu onto them. After a lot of searching I found these on Etsy.
They looked like a really pretty and light blush pink. However, when they arrived they were a bit on the fleshy side, which was majorly dissappointing. I brought the sample to show them, hoping I was maybe being too picky, but Catye and her mom thought the exact same thing. We were back to the drawing board. I was bummed we had to keep looking…but the thing is, when me and my clients put our heads together to make a good idea even better, that’s usually when things get real good. A few weeks later, after I had ordered every swatch imaginable from every linen wholesaler and their “blush pink” swatches all looked like bubblegum pink (I kid you not), Tracye texted me an image of some linen hemstitch napkins she had ordered through amazon. She said she loved the texture of them and thought that we could find someone to dye them the exact right shade of pink. Ding ding. A lightbulb went off in my mind and I immediately thought of Shelly, a gal I had just found on Etsy who was making some dip dyed napkins for an editorial shoot I had coming up. I immediately had her start whipping up a sample for me to show Catye at our next meeting. They arrived just in the knick of time and were SO pretty.
They were a bit too “pink” for us though, especially when we compared them to everything else we had going on.
And Tracye still loved the texture of the linen hemstitch napkins she had ordered. I think we all agreed that something about the linen hemstitch felt so elegant. So we ended up ordering the linen hemstitch napkins and had them shipped to Shelly for her to dip dye. We also requested the napkins be lighter in color than the sample she originally sent us. So that was where we started 3 weeks ago when a box of 300 of the prettiest dip dyed napkins I have ever seen arrived on my porch. They look almost white in this photo below, but you can see more of the true color in that first image of the final place setting. They were just all kinds of perfect. Now to the part where we DIY’d our little hearts out. Here are all the other supplies we needed.
– a large ink pad, you could use a smaller one, but the stamp for the menu needs to be large so this made our lives easier since we were going to be stamping so many
– the menu stamp- we had our graphic designer (who designed the invitations, signage, etc.), Allie Ruth, create this menu for us, but you could easily work up the graphics yourself with some pretty fonts and then order a custom stamp from rubberstamps.net, I would recommend ordering a stamp approximately 7″x 5″ or something similar to fill up the folded napkin nicely
– an exacto knife- we found that our stamp needed some major trimming, I’ll show you what I mean in a second
– napkin- we won all the prizes (saved us hours and hours) by having Shelly fold the napkins for us in advance, but if yours aren’t go ahead and fold them before you start stamping
– also not pictured here are wet wipes- but we kept some handy to keep our fingers clean while we handled both the stamp and the napkins, inky fingerprints on clean napkins is NOT cute.
This photo was taken after Kris had already trimmed up the stamp, but you can see that black outline of where the rubber ended, on our first few trial runs that line showed up very clearly and looked terrible.
Kris went in with an exacto and trimmed out most of the rubber that didn’t have text on it. This made for no random ink lines, we tested and trimmed, tested and trimmed. Order an extra napkin or two for this testing process. We kept trimming until we had a clean print.
Then came the inking. You can see that random streak of white in the above photo and that was where we ripped the ink pad out of it’s holder and then set it inside it’s lid. Since our stamp was larger than the ink pad this was necessary so we could get a good amount of ink on the stamp without having to worry about the ledge of the ink pad getting in the way.
Once our stamp was completely coated in ink, we pressed it into the napkin. We tried a variety ways of pressing, holding it down for 10 seconds, rocking back and forth, etc. But after awhile I realized that one hard press down and coming right back up yielded the best results and was obviously faster too.
And here is the finished product! They turned out so great and we were all so excited about these guys! This was also one of those projects that I built up in my mind- thinking it would take me DAYS to finish stamping them, but Kris and I knocked them out in one three hour session (we did 300, so about 100 per hour would be a good rule of thumb). It wasn’t so bad at all and really a pretty fantastic DIY project that I would recommend if you are looking to do something creative with your place settings.
Thanks for looking and let me know if you end up trying this or something similar, would love to know how it turns out!