We all know the anecdote of a young George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and later owning up to it. Of course, the story isn't true, but the cherry associations remain.
If you were to walk into my home on Presidents Day, which honors both Washington and Abe Lincoln, you might think that I've made special preparations for the holiday. You'd see cherries stenciled on my kitchen floor, a hutch filled with cherry-themed china, lampshades decoupaged with cherries, and even wallpaper borders with a repeat cherry motif.But I cannot tell a lie. I just love cherries as decorations and always have. In my home, they're on display year-round, because they're so simple and fresh. In fact, cherries indirectly launched my career with my card, "Life is just a chair of bowlies," which has been the most popular design in our line for years. (It was inspired by an old boyfriend's father's malapropism, but that's another story.)
If you want to celebrate the holiday with a presidential birthday lunch or dinner, a cherry-themed cloth is a great way to set the table - and the mood. If you don't have any vintage cherry tablecloths on hand, you can make your own by stenciling. Since the design truly is seasonless, you'll be able to put these linens to use year-round, so it's well worth the effort.
Prewash a plain white tablecloth and napkins. Make a cherry template from cardboard, drawing the design on with a pencil. This is one of the simplest stencil motifs I can imagine: a round red ball dangling from a stem and oval leaf. Also, make a double stem, shaped like an upside-down V, with twin cherries hanging from either side.
Using a ruler, make another stencil template of a checkerboard. You only need to cut out every other square, since half the checkerboard will be white. Now that you've completed your templates, you can reuse them, adding cherry-and-check touches to walls or furniture whenever you please.
Place cutouts over the fabric and use a sponge and fabric paints to apply the colors to the cloths: red or yellow for the cherries, green for the leaves. Scatter the cherries randomly over the napkins. For the tablecloth, you could march cherry rows from one end to the other or even stencil them in a circle to ring a centerpiece. The checkerboard makes a nice tablecloth border design in red or blue.
Finish your table with ruby glasses and plates. A Lincoln log cabin would be a cute centerpiece. If you're lucky, you might even find cardboard candy containers from the '20s that are busts of George Washington's head. There was even a popular candy container in the shape of a cherry log, with a cardboard hatchet attached.
And remember: Cherry season is all year long!
Mary Engelbreit is an artist living in St. Louis. Her work appears periodically in the Deseret News.
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