Make your Thanksgiving table setting or any upcoming gathering a place to inspire conversation and creativity.  Transform placemats by using leaf-shaped items as decorative stamps on them.  

Welcome your guests or that special someone with an awesome Autumn-themed table full of color and charm—all with Goodwill found items. 

Items Needed:

1.      Placemats

2.      Leaf-shaped decorative items

3.      White paint

4.      Foam brush

5.      Metallic paint

6.      Small detail paint brush

7.      Accessories like small vases, silver pitchers, glassware, plates

8.      A great dinner companion (or two!)

1.      Pick your place at the table after picking up placemats at Goodwill

Did you know that Goodwill often has placemats and other linens to dress up your kitchen or dining room table? It’s true!  During a recent excursion there, four handsome, woven placemats were picked up for just a few dollars each. 

Also, several leaf-shaped decorative items including a metal tray and small dish were collected to celebrate the season. 

And while you’re at Goodwill, hunt for plates, glassware, candles, vases, pitchers and other items to make your meal (or at least the table design!) more memorable.

2.      Brush on some brilliance, apply some pressure

  • At your workspace, brush on a light layer of white or light-colored paint on top of one of your leaf-shaped treasures. 
  • After applying a solid layer of paint, carefully put your placement on top of it; use one hand and your weight to keep the placemat from moving. 
  • Use your other hand to apply pressure anywhere the placemat touches the decorative piece.  
  • Your goal is to transfer the paint from the leaf piece onto the placemat, leaving its impression—its shape—behind.
  • Repeat this set for each placemat and using several leaf-shaped items. 

Expert Tip 1:
Be sure to wash the paint off your hands and your worksurface often; there may be drips and smudges as you apply more paint for more impressions.  Take time to keep things as clean as possible as you go so the only paint on your placemats is from your leaf designs and not from your fingers or by drips and drops.

Expert Tip 2:

Based on the impression your leaf leaves with you—or on your placemat—you might consider taking a small, detail paint brush and add in lines and highlights.  The leaf impression will be your guide and you are simply just going over parts to bring them out a little more.

3.      Stroke on shine

After your leaf-stamped/applied paint layer dries, then give your placements some shimmer and shine.  With another small paint brush, carefully brush on metallic paints in gold or copper tones to connect with the warm, Fall tones.  A couple of paint strokes is all it takes to add a little pop. 

Of course, allow plenty of time to dry before handling or using.

4.      Set a stage

On your table, begin with a tablecloth (also purchased at Goodwill) to create a foundation on which to build a sparkling seasonal setting.  Position your leaf-stamped placemats on top.  

For my table, a small vase with yellow flowers was added to bring in Mother Nature’s presence.  Painted wine glasses (another great DIY project) were paired with tall water glasses with polka dot details. 

A small owl figurine was positioned on top of a garland of felt leaves.  A shiny silver pitcher stands ready to refresh.  

All come together to celebrate the season and to showcase your transformed placemats and DIY talents!

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Tim Kime

Artist, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, and connector. He is the President of Kime Leadership Associates, offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating, and motivational speaking. He is also the Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, and part goal setting.