What you will need:
30 plain white paper towels (two-ply works best)
Colored masking tape, sometimes called “painter’s tape” (available at hardware stores)
How to do it:
There are many ways to prepare a paper towel for dipping. One is to fold the towel into a fan and then fold the length of that piece the same way, into a small square packet.
With the towel folded, you are ready to dye it. Hold the packet firmly, and briefly dip each corner into a different color dye. If you soak up too much food coloring, the colors will be muddy looking. Unfold the towel carefully and lay it on spread-out newspapers, or, if you have the space, string some yarn for a temporary drying line. Experiment with different ways of folding and twisting to create a variety of patterns.
When all of your pieces are dry, have a grown-up iron them smooth with a medium-hot iron. This step gives the towels a fabriclike texture and strengthens them.
To put the tablecloth together, lay the ironed pieces out on the floor (six down and five across), and tape the corners together with a bit of cellophane tape. This holds the pieces in place for the next step.
Outlining the pieces with colored masking tape is a two-person job. Have your helper hold one end of the masking tape while you place long strips along the seams of all the towels, both across and down, until they are all outlined. Now, stand back and behold your beautiful piece of art!
Reprinted with permission from More Mudpies: 101 Alternatives to Television © 1994 by Nancy Blakey, Tricycle Press, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, Ca 94707.