Printing using potatoes is simple and affordable. You don’t need to be hugely creative or an expert at drawing to design a print. The best results are achieved using simple shapes to create a geometric style, rather than intricate artistic detail. Making your own printed wrapping paper can add a personal touch to a gift. Your printed designs will also thrive on canvas tote bags, pillowcases and pencil cases.
- Large baking potatoes
- Kitchen knife
- Craft knife (affordable craft knife sets available from Amazon)
- Pencil, eraser and sketchbook for drawing out your designs
- Sponge or paintbrush
- Cheap poster paint (available in the craft section of stationery shops, e.g. The Works and The Range)
- Fabric paint (available in Bath’s Minerva Art Supplies)
- Newspaper and empty food/microwavable trays are ideal for paint
Ideas for items to decorate:
- A1 paper or roll of brown paper for wrapping a gift
- Blank tote canvas bags, (usually available on eBay)
- Fabric pencil cases (Yellow Moonhave a great range)
- Tea towels (available from wholesalers such as Stuart Morris)
- Plain cushion cover
- Plain pillow case
How to make your print:
- Using the kitchen knife cut your potato in half. Then, with a pencil, trace around the outside of the potato on to paper so you have an idea of the size.
- Sketch out some simple designs that incorporate bold shapes and lines. The trick is not to overcomplicate your print otherwise it will be fiddly to carve out. At this stage it’s also worth thinking about how each stamp will sit next to each other or overlap.
- Draw your design directly on to the potato. If you’re less confident drawing freehand, make a paper template of your design. Next, place this onto the potato and use a pencil to pierce through key points and join like a dot-to-dot.
- Use the craft knife to cut out the areas you don’t want to appear on the print.
- Square off or trim the sides of the potato into your desired shape.
- You can paint your potato using the paintbrush, by dipping the potato in the tray, or sponging the paint on. Have a go with each of these different techniques to achieve varied textures.
- Carefully turn your potato over and press firmly on to the corner of the paper to test out your print.
Tips for testing out your print
Experiment as much as you can with testers and get a feel for what works best. Note how much paint you use each time and how many presses you can make before the paint begins to fade. Having a scrap piece of paper by your side can be useful for a first ‘discard’ print to remove the squidgy excess paint.
It’s important to remember that each print is unique. The different tones created by the pressure and application of the paint are part of the charm of a printed product.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with smudging or rotating the print to achieve different effects. You may also want to go back in with a craft knife to alter sections of the design.
Printing on fabric
Always place a thin sheet of cardboard or a layer of magazines in between bags and pencil cases to stop the paint soaking through the back. Once you are happy with your design and how it prints on paper, test it out on a scrap piece of fabric. Fabric tends to soak up the paint so you may need to reapply the paint more often.
What designs could you come up with? Tweet @MilkBathSpa to share your printing photos.