When we first saw French artist Sarah Espeute’s embroidered table linens, we thought they were drawn-on with indelible markers, something we might be able to do. Then ideas and memories began to connect and flow.

Into our mind popped the drawn-on-craft-paper table settings our friend Pamela Hovland often makes using markers…

Pamela Hovland

…and the drawn-on “blank-canvas”furniture we once wrote about…

Phil Mansfield/NY Times

We love the idea of making drawn-on tablecloths using indelible markers, with however simple our designs might be. Perhaps we’d enlist an artist friend to help.

A friend recommends Elmer’s Painters Opaque Paint Markers for being vivid and colorfast. (Heat-set fabrics before laundering, wash and dry on delicate cycle.)

Even a simple table runner, inspired by Sarah Espeute’s, would be swell. (click the arrow right to see the little video).

A big washed linen tablecloth can be had from H&M for about $40 during sales.

But this may be the idea we love best: using plain Kraft paper as a table covering or runner, with a supply of colored markers in the center of the table. When your guests loosen up and ideas start flowing, they can draw, figure, notate ideas, and rip off the part they want to remember when they leave, or leave intact for you: a map of the evening.

In our archive we keep a treasured a map of West Virginia rivers a friend drew one stormy night on the paper-covered table we sat at his high-school reunion. We ripped it off and took it with us, an artifact sparks that evening long ago.

Christopher Hirscheimer, Canal House Cooks

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