Vegetable and Fruit Printing
What you will make:
Learn how to make simple relief prints using vegetables (and fruits). This
printing technique is simple enough for very young children, while
being versatile enough for older children and adults. The project
features the classic potato print, as well as vegetables and
fruits that are a bit less traditional in printing.
Relief Printing: A raised surface covered with paint or ink is
used to make relief prints. Many types of printing fall in the
category of relief printing, with woodcuts and linoleum block
printing being the best known. (Intaglio is the other major
category of printing.) Rubber stamps and other kinds of stamps are
also examples of relief printing. See these related craft projects for
more relief printing:
Sponge Stamps and Art
and Repeat Cards featuring rubberstamps.
Here's what you need:
- Firm vegetable or fruit (potato, apple, turnip, jicama, etc.)
- Paper to stamp — construction paper or other non-shiny, porous
- Wide paint brush
- Optional: Scrap paper for testing, cookie
cutters, pin, needle, and a potato peeler.
- Paring knife and chopping board (Adult supervision
- Thick paint — acrylic, tempera, or poster paint
- Cellulose kitchen sponge (unused)
- Wax paper or aluminum foil or large plastic lid
- Optional vegetables: Jalapeno
pepper, okra, cabbage, onion and celery.
This project is rated VERY EASY to do.
How to Make Vegetable and Fruit Relief Prints
Read all of the steps before starting.
- Step 1: Group Preparation
If you plan to do vegetable and fruit printing with a group of children,
be sure to have a potato and paper for each child.
Other tools and materials can be shared.
Cut sheets of construction paper to 9" by 6" pieces—half of
a 9" by 12" sheet or
a quarter of a 12" by 18" sheet. All colors of construction paper work well.
Pre-cut the vegetables and fruits for very small children.
- Step 2: Cut Potato
Cut a potato in half and cut a design into the flat surface. (Other
firm vegetables also work well — turnip, jicama, sweet potato.)
Kids, get help using the knife!
Start with something simple like a few straight lines. Use
the paring knife to cut a V-shaped trench for each line.
Another option is to press a cookie cutter into the potato. Use the knife to cut
the potato away from around the cookie cutter.
For more detailed designs,:
- Outline design with point of knife, cutting about 1/4" (
- For areas near the edge, undercut from the side to the
- For middle spaces, cut away the piece with two angle
cuts. Or, use the end of a potato peeler to scoop out areas.
- Step 3: Cut Other Vegetables and Fruits (optional)
Cut a vegetable or fruit to reveal an interesting shape or
- Cut a jalapeno pepper in half to see a triangle inside of a
circle. Use a pin or needle to remove the seeds. Careful,
don't touch your eyes.
- Cut an apple in half horizontally to reveal seeds in a star
shape. Use a pin or needle to remove the seeds and cut a design,
- Cut an okra in half for an interesting flower-like design.
Remove a few seeds with a pin or needle.
- A wedge of cabbage makes an interesting design.
- Cut an onion in half to print concentric circles.
- Cut a celery stalk to make crescent-shaped prints.
- Step 4: Sponge Stamp Pad
Make your own sponge stamp pad. Dampen an unused sponge
and squeeze out any excess water. Place the sponge on a piece of wax
paper or aluminum foil, or place it on a large plastic lid. Brush
paint on the sponge, saturating it with paint. Use this
sponge stamp pad like a regular stamp pad. Brush on more
paint as needed. When done with the pad, wash it out with
water and a little liquid soap. Let it dry and use it again the next
time you do vegetable printing.
- Step 5: Load with Paint
Press the cut potato on the sponge stamp pad. Try to get an even
coating of paint.
- Step 6: Make Prints
Press the potato on paper, using even pressure. Hold the paper down
as you lift the potato from the paper. You can use the potato
two or more times before reloading with paint.
- To print a patterned design, use a pencil to lightly mark a
grid on the paper. Erase the pencil marks after the paint is
- Use two or more colors to print your design. Wash the potato
with water between colors.
- You can even print a picture with potato stamps. Cut some
simple shapes like squares, circles, and triangles in a variety
of sizes. Use these shapes to make a picture of a tree, a house,
a car, or whatever you want.
That's it! Now your print is
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