Potato prints

Re-experience a childhood favorite craft with surprisingly effective results.

A simple activity, great to do with young children at home, this even held my 3 year old’s attention and she loves the cushions we created together for her bedroom.

With some planning a simple repeated geometric shape can create a beautiful pattern.

What you’ll need…

  • Potatoes. (Mine were going green)
  • Fabric paints
  • Fabric, I used an old tablecloth that I dyed before painting
  • A small, sharp vegetable knife
  • Polystyrene trays
  • A paintbrush, or foam paint roller.

What cloth to use…

  • A natural fiber non stretch fabric is going to be the easiest to print on, and can withstand the hot iron needed to set the paint.
  • You can do this on t-shirts – just slip over over a board covered in newspaper before beginning

Cutting shapes and planning a design

  • Choose paint colors that contrast with your base cloth, I went with black and white.
  • Remember, the paint is going to allow some of the base cloth color to show through so if you try to print yellow over navy for example, you’ll have a greenish result- still lovely, just keep it in mind.
  • Obviously, please don’t give knives to children, the cutting is an adults job
  • Once your shapes are cut, pat the excess potato juice off.
  • Work within a couple of hours of cutting your shapes or the potatoes dry out and get spongy.
  • Don’t try to cut anything too intricate, tiny shapes just get crushed when pressing on to the fabric
  • Use straight lined shapes, cutting curves are somewhat tricky
  • You can create different designs by using the same shape repeated in different ways. You could randomly dot the same shape all over or radiate it out from a central point, Or stick to a careful grid pattern.
  • Do a few practice prints on newspaper before working on your actual fabric.

Prep your workspace

  • Cover your workspace with newspaper, I did this with a toddler and it got really messy.
  • Use your paintbrush to spread paint onto the shapes, or use your roller to spread paint on you’d polystyrene trays and use this as an “ink pad” for your potatoes.
  • Practice a few prints, after testing mine out I ended up thinning the paint down with water a bit, that’s just what worked for me, you’ll find what works for you.

Once you are done creating your textile design, leave the cloth to dry completely. Once it’s absolutely dry, iron the print on the hottest setting your cloth can withstand to set the paint. I recommend using an old offcut as a press cloth just to make sure you don’t get paint on your iron, and you’re done.

Don’t get frustrated by mistakes, you will make them,nobody ever said pototoes were precise.Sometimes the paint will splotch, or maybe you’ll smear it accidentally, or only print half the shape. It’s all part of the beauty of the end result, you are not a machine and you are creating a unique handmade item.

I used this technique to make cushions, but you could easily use it on clothing, furniture or hand crafted gifts.

Published by Sew You! Magazine

South Africa's first digital, sewing only magazine!

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