Thinking Pink: Pillows with Hand-Printed Fabric

The pink started here:

My dear husband, for reasons yet unknown, picked out these shades for the lights in our apartment living room. In most apartments here, the lighting fixtures are not included, and since we’re here for a limited time, we didn’t want to spend a lot on them. We have no pink in our house otherwise, so I can only guess he was asking for a dose of color in our lovely but very white white white apartment. Reactions from guests have ranged from: “Fresh! Modern! I love them!” to “Hmmmph. Why? Why?”

I felt the need to echo the pink somewhere else, so recovering our pillows was my first thought. Finding fabrics here has been tough, so I hit up the thrift store, bought old white cotton tablecloths and turned them into something that works.

First I doused the tablecloths in a good strong brew of coffee (no, I did not use the good stuff, honey). Then I broke out a favorite childhood toy.

I love these stamps. I used Deka fabric ink that I found at the local art store. I’ve used Deka ink before, a long time ago, which was more like a gouache consistency. This was different, more gel-like.

You may recognize this shape from another project using dishwasher gel.

Now the pink feels at home.

For more information about printing on fabrics and other surfaces, check out Lena Corwin’s excellent book: Printing by Hand.

Hand-Carved Stamp

I just thought you might want a look at the actual stamp (for the note pads in this post) and its inspiration.

Yes, it’s an actual one of these:

I carved it with a little Speedball lino-cut kit from Michael’s.

The fish were inspired by the ones I painted in my son’s room. These in turn were inspired by my first (and only) snorkeling expedition—-in Mexico while I was pregnant with my son. I felt so peaceful floating under the water, watching all the graceful fish and turtles.  I wanted to bring some of that feeling to his nursery.

Handmade Note Pads Printed with Hand-Carved Rubber Stamp

I read about making your own notepads with padding compound on the most excellent blog, the small object steno pad, and immediately felt I had to run out and do it myself. Padding compound is a fancy word for the red stuff at the edge of notepads that keeps the pages stuck together. Turns out you can buy a huge jar of it for cheap (I ordered mine from amazon), and all you basically have to do is pinch some pages together and paint the compound on the end, then let it dry. For a full tutorial, check out the above link to the small object steno pad.

I acquired (by request) some defunct letterhead from my granddad, who was downsizing.  Then  I  carved a fish stamp using an eraser and lino-cutting tools, then stamped each page with it. Next, I saved cereal boxes for the backing.

I read in the comments on the small object steno pad that an easy way to do a bunch of pads at once is just to layer all the paper and cardboard together and paint the padding compound on the whole batch, then separate the individual pads with a knife.

To keep the pages together tightly, I pressed with clamps between two pieces of scrap wood. Voila!


One tip on using the padding compound—mix it up thoroughly with a stick or spoon before using, as otherwise it will be too watery to work.

Lastly, I dug up a stack of commercial magnets that I had been saving for just such a need. I glued a magnet on the back of each pad so they could hang on the fridge.