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By Courtney Napier on February 12, 2024
Since our tea towel recipe tutorial is one of the blog’s most beloved posts, we started wondering, what other Spoonflower products could showcase and celebrate our family recipes? How else could we bring memories (often kept stowed away for safekeeping) into our homes for everyday use?
I recently inherited a family recipe book, and given my background in design and interest in genealogy, thought I’d take this project on!
This 100-year-old recipe book belonged to my great-grandma Beatrice—my grandmother’s mother. Beatrice was a confectioner’s apprentice in her teens at school in the early 1920s, then later employed as a confectioner at the Ainsworth Arms Hotel in her hometown of Bolton, England.
If you look closely, many of the book’s recipes call for bulk ingredients—evidence that supports a young apprentice or paid professional bustling around the kitchens of a popular public house full of hungry patrons.
The book has a few pages with residue of batter or some other ingredient which is part of the special nature of a well-used cookbook. I also love my great-grandma’s handwriting—if you look closely, you can see that she was using a fountain pen.
The earliest photo we have of Beatrice is from her childhood, which I’ve included on the design of my wall hanging. The next photo is from her wedding to my great-grandfather Harold Ashworth in 1924.
Since I wanted to design items that could generate conversation, I picked out quintessential English staples people might easily recognize: hot cross buns, mincemeat, biscuits, tea cakes, puff pastries, black treacle toffee, jam scones, raspberry buns and more.
I also was drawn to something called ginger wine, which appears to be a tincture. This list is starting to sound a bit like the Great British Bake Off—and I like to imagine my British great-grandmother would do quite well in an early 20th-century version of my favorite baking competition!
I chose mostly dining products (the table runner and cocktail napkins) because I envisioned having my family over for a proper British tea party to celebrate my great-grandmother. Since I was inspired by her recipe book, it was a natural fit to be able to pull these items out when I want to create a heartfelt dining tablescape. My next phase will be working my way through her book to recreate her recipes!
First, I took high-resolution photos of the pages of the book in natural lighting about five feet from a window. To create the designs to upload onto Spoonflower, I made two different seamless repeats in Adobe® Photoshop®, taking care to carefully remove the background of my images.
I sized repeat #1 as 20×20” (50.8 cm x 50.8 cm) at 150 dpi which, due to the way they print, allowed me to get a single order of (four) cocktail napkins that are each slightly different since they are a smaller size of 10×10” (25.4 cm x 25.4 cm).
For the table runner, I created a seamless repeat that was the same width but half the height of the finished table runner so that the pattern repeated twice. This allows me to frame the recipes exactly the way I wanted them—and include more of them.
Last, I created a non-repeating file for the wall hanging based on tea towel measurements.
I ordered my aunts each a tea towel to start and gave my mom the three items I created for this blog post. For myself, I think I will order another wall hanging and some dinner napkins, which are my favorite. If you are creating your own family recipe project, be sure to click the “See All Products” button within your Design Library to see (and order) the home decor items you love most. I may even print the recipes on wallpaper—how cool would that be?
As I mentioned for the recipes themselves, I plan to start working my way through them one delicious sweet bake after another. As a vegetarian, I will swap out the lard for something else, and I will need to experiment with an egg replacer as I don’t eat those either. Many of these recipes do not have instructions, because who has time for that when you know exactly what you’re doing!
Everyone absolutely loved them! One of my aunts is planning to frame her tea towel for safekeeping and my mom was just so proud to see her grandmother’s heirloom pieces in this tangible way.
Laurie Shipley is a full-time dreamer and part-time writer, illustrator, designer and lettering artist from Durham, North Carolina, USA. She works in brand marketing and takes on the occasional commission when time allows. Check out more of her work at LaurieShipley.com and connect with her on Instagram.