Potato prints
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Prints made with vegetable and fruit stamps
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Friday Fun

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 paper
  • Wide paint brush
  • Optional: Scrap paper for testing, cookie cutters, pin, needle, and a potato peeler.
  • Paring knife and chopping board (Adult supervision required!)
  • 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" ( .5cm) deep.
  • For areas near the edge, undercut from the side to the outline.
  • 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 texture.

  • 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, if desired.
  • 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 completely dry.
  • 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 done!
Potato prints

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Potato prints on purple construction paper

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Tip: Use two potato stamps to make an interesting design. In this example, a carved square with three lines is used to stamp a background and an "X" stamp stamp is printed on top.

Vegetable prints on block printing paper

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Tip: Cut vegetables can be used as stamps. This example is stamped with a celery stem (purple) and a jalapeno pepper cut in cross-section (blue) on block printing paper.

Special block printing paper is available at art and school supply stores.

Vegetable print greeting card

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Tip: Vegetable stamps can be used to print greeting cards. This card features prints from a carved potato stamp and a small celery stem.

Vegetable stamped gift wrap

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Tip: Print strips of colored paper with vegetable stamps to use in gift wrapping.

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