Friday, July 30, 2010

Stretched Tea Towel Canvasses...

Back in January during our trip to New Zealand, I was on a mission to acquire some local artwork for our apartment back in Zurich.  Because we're not really at that "buying original paintings" stage of life yet, I had to look for cheaper and easier-to-transport alternatives.


I came across these tea towels in a design store.  They are hand-screen-printed by artist Melina Martin from her original drawings and feature a range of native New Zealand birds and flora.  I fell in love and decided to take them home and do "something" with them.

The Tui.

After the idea of framing fell through because of cost, I decided to try stretching them over some canvasses I had, (purchased with the enthusiastic but unrealistic intention of painting a triptych).

I stretched the tea towels over the canvas and secured them at the back with an upholstery gun.  I managed on my own, but sometimes an extra pair of hands can be helpful to make sure you keep good tension as you go.

We're all enjoying having a little bit of New Zealand art on the walls, even if it's re-appropriated, kitchen-related media.


Update as at 11th August:  I've found this great tea towel site:


  1. Those tea towels look fantastic! We are needing some art at our house too.... I think I know what I might do now!!

  2. That looks great! I'm your newest follower! :)

  3. Hi there,
    I just stumbled across your blog looking for pictures of turnip lanterns and I thought it a funny coincidence that I'm also an expat NZer living in Switzerland! (Is the turnip lantern parade just a Swiss thing then?) And then I saw your lovely Teatowel canvasses. I also fell in love with some teatowels in NZ last time I was there, but couldn't justify 40 dollars on a teatowel and couldn't think of another use for them at the time....Would you mind if I plagiarised your idea? Feel free to say no :)
    Great blog!
    Take care,

  4. Kiaora Petra :). It's very rare I find a Switzerland-based expat NZlander here! Glad you liked my blog... Rabeliechtli is a very Swiss thing although I believe that Germany celebrates something like it too.

    Please feel free to use any of the ideas on here, including the tea towel one - I am so pleased you like the idea enough to want to try it :)

    If you need an upholstery gun, I got mine at my local MM Migros in the hardware section, so they are pretty easy to find!

    Good luck!

    LM (AKA Rachel Bilby :)

  5. Haha, long time since I've heard Kiaora!! I always meet people who know "so many New Zealanders" but very rarely meet them myself!

    Thanks so much. I've just emailed my mum with a mission to go to the store with all the lovely tea-towels and take photos of them so I can choose some for her to send over!! An upholstery gun makes more sense (I'm guessing that's some kind of staple gun)...I had mis-read and thought you used a glue gun. What a pity, I was looking for an excuse to buy a glue gun! My son is 2.5 so we're starting to enjoy lots of crafts together ....I'm sure we can come up with many uses for both ;)

    Take care and thanks again!

    Take care,



Thanks so much for your comments - I really appreciate them!

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