Napkin Art

When I’m using napkins as an added addition to my art I have to remember to handle with extreme care. Most napkins have at three layers, although lately I’ve been noticing that many come as 2-ply. If you can’t get your fingernails to separate the napkin try using a puff of air. Bring the napkin close to your face and give a blow, that “should” help start to separate the layers. Once you have been able to get the layers semi-separated ever so carefully start to peel them apart. Be extremely careful as the printed portion of the napkin is going to be the most fragile. I peel all the layers and keep the undecorated portions for other artistic purposes. Once you have the decorative napkin layer as a single unit you are free to carefully tear or cut away the portion/s that you plan on using in your art. Some of the art I’ve used napkins in are:

I used a grape motif napkin on the bottom half of this ceramic trivet.

For this trivet I used a green square I tore from a decorative napkin then used small shreds of the same green to replicate rain.

This pieces has flowers torn from a decorative napkin scattered from top to bottom.

After you’ve chosen and precut or torn your napkin pieces it’s best to lay them where you want them and use a slight misting of water to get them to stay in place. I personally like to use Mod Podge on my napkin pieces as it’s consistency is thin enough not to tear the napkins. You will learn by playing around how much you can “work” the napkin before it gives in and starts to come apart so be gentle at all costs. You can either set them aside to allow them to dry or you can force dry with a heat gun. Sometimes they take a while to dry depending on how wet you’ve gotten them and your weather conditions. I like a bit of texture in my napkin appliquéing so I usually gently wad the pieces up and very gently smooth them out a touch before fine misting them with an atomizer. I’m constantly on the look out for different napkins I can use in my art, so be sure to check the party section of the stores you frequent, and don’t overlook the ones that are all one color as they can have a great effect as well. Remember to separate your layers, and to save all your pieces in a special box so you have items on hand for all of your paints, collages, and art journaling projects. And please! Leave a comment… I’d LOVE to see what you’re making with your napkins!

7 thoughts on “Napkin Art

  1. Hey, Tammy!

    I love your napkin-art tutorial! We are always looking for cool articles like this one for our Art Journal Journeys magazine on Artella ( Would you be interested in giving us permission to publish a version of this article in the magazine?

    Take care!

    Leslie Dupont
    Assistant to Marney Makridakis

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