top of page

MORDANT PRINT; making cloth napkins for our ITALIAN WEDDING.

In preparation for our Italian wedding, we made a choice to craft unique cloth napkins utilizing the captivating mordant printing technique. Today, I am excited to take you on a journey through the process of bringing these remarkable napkins to life.

Greetings to all! Or as they say in Italy, Ciao a tutti!

Last year, my husband and I had the joy of getting married in a picturesque town nestled in the mountains of northern Italy. As we embarked on our wedding planning journey, we sought a unique way to honour the cherished Italian tradition of gifting a "bomboniera" to our guests. The "bomboniera" is a wedding favour given at the end of the reception, serving as a heartfelt thank you to all who celebrated with us on our special day.

Traditionally, these Bomboniere consist of small boxes filled with delightful almonds sweets. (called confetti).

However, we desired to create something more enduring and personal, which led us to the idea of crafting cloth napkins adorned with our own designs using one of my all-time favourite natural dye techniques: mordant printing.

In this blog post, I am thrilled to share with you the process involved in creating this beautiful and meaningful bomboniere. If you want to delve even deeper into the world of mordant printing, I invite you to explore my e-book titled "Mordant printing with Natural Colours" for further inspiration and guidance. click here

First I started, designing the napkins, because the Bomboniere are normally filled with almond sweets, I needed them to be able to contain the sweets but work as napkins as well.

I put the sweets in the middle and then saw a string on the middle of the napkin to close it like a small bag.

Then, it was time to think about the design to print, we decided we wanted to get inspiration from the natural world. Using botanical ink made with pomegranate skins I paint some art. It was so much fun!

We had the design of the napkin and the prints ready, and now was time to sew all the napkins, we invited 70 people, so that means 70 napkins, OMG I have never sewed so many things in my life. It was a long process but full of joy.

A few days later...

hehe, I finished with all 70 napkins. They were ready to start with the mordant printing process. The first step: washing them really well, cotton fabric normally gets a lot of treatments to make it look better, but we need to remove them so that the dye can enter the fibres.

Then, I mix the ferrous sulphate with vinegar and guar gum to create the mordant printing paste. and paint with a soft brush on top of the dried napkins.

I paint all of the designs by hand, each one of them, yes each one of the 70th. Again a lot of work but I loved it!

Once I finished painting all of the napkins is time to let them dry and let the mordant precipitate into the fibre.

The smell of vinegar was really strong, we have to put them outside for a couple of days.

When the smell of vinegar is gone you know that is all evaporated and the ferrous sulphate is now attached to the fibre.

The design will start to get yellowish, is because the ferrous is getting rusty when in the presents of oxygen.

now that the vinegar is all evaporated the next process is to remove the gum. And to do that we have to immerse the fabric in calcium carbonate.

This will remove the gum and let the dye attach to the fabric, creating the pattern that we are looking for.

I washed all the calcium carbonate and gum away and prepared two dye baths, one with onion skins and the other with pomegranate skins.

Then stared at the napkins one by one letting them in the dye bath for 20 minutes.

Given the number of cloth napkins we needed to dye and the limited capacity of my pot, each napkin received a varying amount of dye, resulting in a beautiful array of unique hues. Initially, I felt a tinge of stress, fearing that the process may not have been executed perfectly. However, a moment of clarity swept over me as I remembered the nature of natural dyes.

Their unpredictable nature allows for delightful variations from one dye bath to another. In that realization, I learned to embrace and appreciate the subtle differences in hues, understanding that they add an extra layer of charm and individuality to each cloth napkin.

Here are the results from the onion skins bath and the pomegranate bath:

I washed them all in the washing machine to remove any dirt from the onion and pomegranate skins. Then when they were dried, I iron them.

They were all ready, so want is next?

I made a label saying "Thank you for being with us on our special day" and explained a little bit about the tradition o the "Bomboniere" cause we had guests from different countries.

Then, the week before we travelled to Italy to buy the almond sweet that will be put inside the cotton napkins. let me show you the pictures of the place because I believe is a magical place.

Is called: Manganini and if you are ever in Milan, Italy I recommend visiting this sweets factory.

Manganini Milano, Italy. Viale Edoardo Jenner, 14, 20159 Milano MI, Italia

So now we had the napkins and the almond sweets, and we had to pack them, one by one, all 70 of them 🤪 just one week before the wedding.

Writing this blog post made me realise how much time and effort we put into this wedding favour, but I don't regret it, they were made with a lot of love, love for my husband, our families, our friends and love for nature.

And they looked wonderful on the day of our wedding.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog 😊

Photograph by: Castelli & Galetti


bottom of page