The day before the Firefly Ball, Oliver was one excited mouse. But he felt like something was missing. He had everything in order for the most splendid tea party after the animals' concert in the Lodge. The lemonade was already chilling in the ice box. His fanciest tea set was washed and ready to go. He had four types of cookies made, carefully wrapped up so he couldn't nibble them in a moment of weakness. He even had some cucumbers from Reginald's garden, all ready to be sliced for sandwiches.
So what was missing, you might ask? That's what Miss Flora Fox wondered as she traipsed past Oliver's house, and saw him gazing glumly out the window. She asked her mouse friend what was wrong.
Oliver told her that he wanted to make his a splendid tea party, but that his table linens were not splendid at all. He just had his normal napkins and place mats, and he was worried that they would not be festive enough.
"Pshaw!" said Flora, "Ollie, we are all your friends and we will not judge you by your table linens. Never in all my days have I heard such a load of hooey! Settle down!"
Nevertheless, Flora could see that her mouse friend was worried. He kept plucking at his whiskers and stealing glances at the cookies for tomorrow. So she told him to follow her. She had an idea for a tablecloth that would be "just the thing."
At Flora's house, the friends found a plain tablecloth.
Flora got some special printing foam and a pencil.
"Now Ollie," she asked, "what kinds of decorations should we print?" Oliver said he thought they should be Midsummer themed, or maybe firefly themed. They drew some ideas: a firefly, a rose, a moon and stars, some bluebells.
They cut out their favorites.
Then they glued the foam to some blocks of wood. Flora said, "watch out and make sure to glue the side with pencil marks to the wood. That way your design will not be backwards!"
While the friends waited for the glue to dry, they picked their favorite ink color. Oliver said he wanted to use navy blue, because it was a night tea party.
They got ready to print by spreading the tablecloth on a smooth, hard surface, with a few layers of paper padding underneath.
After the glue was dry, the friends painted the first printing block with ink.
Oliver put the inky block down on the tablecloth, and pressed with all his might.
And what do you know! He had printed a design on the tablecloth!
They repeated this many times, every time they wanted to stamp a decoration on the tablecloth. Flora painted the blocks, and Oliver stamped them on the cloth.
They made a border all around the edge of the tablecloth, and put some more decorations in the center.
It took a little while, but finally they were done. Oliver was so happy! He hugged his fox friend and scampered back home to start the sandwiches.
After the ink was dry, Flora ironed the tablecloth to make the ink waterproof. In Hazel Village, the animals use hot rocks to iron things. It is a lot of work, but Flora knew Oliver would be quite pleased with this tablecloth.
The next morning, Flora brought the tablecloth to Oliver's house. She also brought some flowers to help him decorate.
Oliver was so proud of his pretty house! The Firefly Ball was lovely as always, and the tea party afterwards was as splendid as he could have dreamed.
You too can block print on any fabric or paper. You can get foam like the animals used in any arts and crafts store. You can glue it to a block with wood glue or elmer's glue. The animals used fabric printing ink, which is permanent after you iron it on hot for 30 seconds. But you can use any acrylic paint, especially if you don't need your project to be washable. The animals' tablecloth was a human handkerchief. They don't know that.