Branch Out

Branch Out | Get ideas for your own wedding fêtes with a peek at this luncheon for local wedding pros

When members of the Charleston Area Wedding Planners Association meet each quarter, it’s little surprise they throw some of the city’s most charming parties. For this one, Calder Clark of Calder Clark Designs hosted a luncheon to school attendees on Indian nuptials and to show how any wedding-related event can march to its own drummer. “Why do parties surrounding weddings have be to be so staid and predictable?” asks Calder. “In this foodie town, it seems natural to cull from favorite culinary inspirations (or chefs or restaurants). An al fresco Italian picnic, a Parisian brunch…what do you crave?” See some of our favorite images from the luncheon in the gallery at right. For the full vendor list, see below.

Do It Yourself

Want to dress your tables—be they for a shower, bridesmaids’ luncheon, rehearsal dinner, or reception—in a pretty, custom pattern like the ones seen in the gallery at right? Jessica Bauman of Onawa Designs, whose favorite books on block printing are Lotta Prints and Printing By Hand, says the look is within your reach if you just follow these steps. And even better, all the supplies can be found right here in town, at either  Artists and Craftsmen Supplyor at any number of big box craft stores. If you try it, please be sure to tell us!If you’re overwhelmed, you can always hire Jessica to create them for you.

Stamped Table Linens

  • Tablecloth (cotton or linen are best as natural fibers absorb paints and dyes well)
  • Pencil
  • Carving tool
  • Carving block
  • Ruler
  • Fabric chalk pencil
  • Super Glue (or stamp adhesive)
  • Wood block (the same size as the carving block)
  • Heavy duty tape
  • A large old towel
  • Block printing ink (or acrylic paint)
  • An old tray (and old cookie tray or plastic tray works well; your tray needs to be flat, wider than the brayer, and long)
  • Brayer (a hard rubber roller)
  • Scrap fabric
  • Apron
  • Rag
  • Iron


1. Wash and dry your tablecloth according to manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Sketch a design onto carving block with a pencil.

3. Using Super Glue or stamp adhesive, affix the rubber block (the side without the design on it) to the wood block. Allow to dry.

4.  Cut around the design with the cutting tool so the only raised surface on the block is the outline of the design. The highest surfaces on the stamp are the ones that print, so carve down everything else. If text is involved, carve it backwards.

5. Place the block where you’d like the pattern to appear on the tablecloth. Use a ruler as needed. Mark this placement with a chalk pencil, and repeat until you’ve covered as much of the linen as you care to. This grid allows you to place the block precisely and since you must move steadily when printing, this is an important step. Alternately print your patterns at random. Note: For the Indian luncheon table toppers, Jessica carved a large block to use for the corners and a smaller block to create a horizontal band fashioned from repeated stamps that connected the corners. For more about patterns and how to lay them out, check out the books mentioned above.
6. Prep your printing area: Tape the towel smooth across a flat, even table. Mix a batch of paint. (Mix enough for the whole project in order to get the same color all the way through.) Lay out the paint tray and brayer. Put on an apron and have a rag handy for cleaning up splatters.

7. Pour enough of the paint into the tray to coat the brayer evenly. Roll the brayer back and fourth until the paint equally covers the rubberized roller. Roll a coat or two evenly onto the carved side of the rubber block.

8. Flip the block over, carefully hover over the desired location on a scrap piece of fabric, and lower it, pressing down evenly. Give it a firm press or two all over the back of the block and lift up. (Tip: Test a couple prints until the desired look has been achieved before you start printing on the tablecloth.)

9. When confident, repeat this process of loading the brayer with paint, applying it to the block, and printing the block on the tablecloth until you have completed the desired pattern.

10. If you have used fabric paint for block printing, it will usually need to be set after you are done printing and the design has dried. Instructions are typically on the backs of the inkbottles and consist of running a hot iron over the pattern. (Acrylic paint does not need to be set.)  

11. Launder the linen once more.
12. Dress your tables!

Tip: If you are only able to print half the tablecloth because of your workspace or time, that’s OK. Set the tablecloth out to dry, seal your paint in its container, then wash your block and brayer. Start again once the tablecloth has fully dried.


Vendor List

Cake: Boutique Tents,
Caterer: Lavanya’s House,; Duvall Catering,
Cappuccino station: Cappuccino Man Carolina,
Design: Calder Clark Designs,
Florist: Blossoms Events,
Rentals and linens: Snyder Event Rentals,
Stamped linen overlays: Onawa Designs,
Lighting and sound: TEC,
Music (sitar): Bryan Mahanes,
Stationer: Dulles Designs,
Venue: Harborside East,