Thursday, June 2, 2016

Low Tech Printing: Potatoes



It was late in the day before I could start printing. The whole, long day I spent mowing, I planned out what I wanted to do. I tried to eliminate all specialty materials so if you were inspired to play along, you could. How about some potatoes and leftover latex paint? 




I decided to work in the house since the Doxies had been alone so much. A layer of newspapers protected my kitchen table (which was already covered with a tablecloth and sheet of plastic), and I grabbed both regular and sweet potatoes from the garage. 

I sliced the sweet potato in half, and noticed one end was going bad. I didn't think it made a big difference, but when I tried carving it, it was rather soft and sponge-like. It did a poor job of printing so I tried a regular potato.



Again, I sliced it in half, and this time used a linoleum cutter to make a design. I used leftover latex paint, and a styrofoam meat tray to hold it. The first sheet I printed taught me to use a paper towel to dry off the potato stamp well before dipping it in the paint. Also, I found I could dip the stamp once, and print with it up to 4 times. Each print became lighter as the paint came off, and I started and stopped the lines at different intervals. By the end, the print had a sense of depth because of the different values. 


More excitable than one should be, I scrambled to find a shirt from the rag bin I'd donated that morning. There were little holes in the front, but this was only an experiment. I marked off three lines in a chalk pencils, and also a center mark. I started in the center with the first stamp, then worked out to the right and left alternating my stamp up and down. 


As a quick afterthought, I grabbed a piece of leftover cardboard, and slipped in between the shirt layers. This would keep any paint from seeping onto the back even though I was applying it lightly. You can see one curlique that picked up a wee bit too much paint. I hesitated at dabbing at it, and thought it better to wait it out. You can see by the picture above how it became less obvious as it dried.


Half a potato and another sample jar of Valspar were still waiting, but I had no more meat trays at the house. A piece of aluminum foil, a DQ spoon, and printer paper were handy, and so I carved another stamp. Again, I used a Speedball linoleum cutter, and a different tip this time. I was thinking about the parakeet toys we often see with the multi-colored plastic balls strung on top of one another. It's a great pattern.


This time I was careful to really dry the stamp, and then use only a smidgen of paint. I dipped the stamp for each mark, and the colors were more equal in value. I also like the little white spacing between the 'globes'. It will go in my gift wrap for a unique wrapping paper.



The extra paint on the meat tray is still good, but I didn't want to put it back in the jar after introducing the starch from the potato to it. I slid it into a plastic grocery sack to keep the air out, and it will last for at least a week. The potato stamps got a good rinse, blotted dry with a paper towel, and stored in the refrigerator to use tomorrow. They should last a couple days, I think. 

Potato stamps are great projects to use with kids from toddlers on up. Any acrylic or latex paint will work, and sticks to paper and even fabrics--so watch those clothes! To make it permanent on the shirt, I'll heat set it with an iron from the backside, and protect my iron surface with a pressing cloth. I'll let you know how it all works tomorrow, and some more details on how the non-fabric paint held up through the wash.

If you decide to do your own printing projects, tag me on Instagram so I can see the fun you're having. @PINKDOXIES

More low tech projects here:
Low Tech Printing: On Fabric

12 comments:

  1. We used big irish rooster potatoes in school for printing. I had forgotten about it! You got loverly results here and I really like the textured effect the stamping gives.

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    1. Ruth, my husband and I were questioning what 'big Irish Rooster' potatoes were, and surmised they must be like our giant Idaho bakers. Yup, it's all geography!

      When my kiddos were all little, we did quite a few stamping projects. One year we transformed an old bed sheet into a wonderful Halloween table cloth. They are all just about the right age to pull that out for our next Halloween gathering. I may have to dig it out myself just to reminisce.

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  2. A couple of weeks ago I was going to do this with my granddaughter. I carved the potatoes, got everything set up and left them on the table, and went to pick her up. When we got home, I found that my dog had eaten all the raw potatoes...

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    1. No way! These dogs would never do that, but we once answered the door at Christmas to later return to a whole ham--or what was left of it, under the kitchen table, and a huge part of it gone! I know dogs will eat the strangest things. Poor you!

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    2. i remember my mother coming home after a HS graduation ceremony and getting ready for a party and finding one of her dogs munching a corner out of the cake she had left on the counter.

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  3. This looks great! Now I want to try it! I love that you used stuff we all have laying around the house. I don't have the cutter, but I have pumpkin carving tools so I will try those. Thanks for the great tutorial!

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    1. That's a good idea, Katy! I know some of those are very sharp, but others are kid friendly, too. Let me know how it turns out, would you?

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  4. I really like the blue and white piece. I've never made my own stamps, but have had some fun with some fun ones Drama Teen liked when she was younger. Unfortunately, my "little one" no longer likes crafts, it's all video games these days. Sigh!

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  5. GREAT project. How did the latex paint hold up?

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    1. I would say excellent considering all the no-no's I did. I ironed and then washed it without letting it sit at least a day, and had very little wash out. At least, one can't see a difference at all in the print except the water was cloudy. I'll run it through the washer with a few loads to see how it does there, and keep you posted.

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  6. Its amazing to think that you can get such great results from a simple potato. I think a rooster potato is a red skinned one, with a thick skin too.

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    1. Thank you, Helen. I didn't get a chance to look this up, and it's good to know. I suppose most depends on the water content of the potato, but size matters, too.

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Thank you for sharing your ideas and comments. It's always enlightening to hear what you think, or if you have a suggestions. Some of you really make my day with your wit! I admit I struggle to keep up with replies during busy times, but it's because I'm working on new things to share with you. Give me a shout with anything urgent at julie@pinkdoxies.com, and I'll try to get right back with you.

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Julie