It's been a week since I posted...we've been in a sick kid vortex that seems somewhat unending this month. I'm really looking forward to February for a few reasons: no more germs (right?!), my birthday (with a visit from Nana and Grandpa) and Valentine's Day. This will be the first Valentine's Day with Charley in school, and I'm really excited about it!
Today I thought we'd make Valentine's for his class, since he was still too sick to go to school but not to sick to have fun at home. After poking around, I decided we'd use potatoes, which I saw on The Imagination Tree. When I asked him if he wanted to make potato print Valentine's cards for everyone he got really excited and said, "Make card for Mandy!" That's his favorite teacher. She read his construction book with him (10 times if it was like reading it here) and quickly found the way to his heart.
When I got all the stuff ready, he was playing trucks, so I started making some myself. Charley kept right on playing trucks. Then I made some more. And he played more trucks. You get the idea. So I made a bagillion cards. At first I was thinking it would be lame for me to make his Valentine's, but then I realized that most people go buy their kids' cards, so this isn't lamer than that. I'd venture it's a bit cooler, actually. All that being said, go buy cards if you want to. I won't judge, as long as you don't judge me for letting our house remain in a state of cluttery chaos so that I can do some vegetable art.
Even though lots of people know how to make potato prints (I mean, how hard could it possibly be, right?) I thought that I would share some little tips that I figured out today while Charley didn't help me.
First, draw the simple shape you want using a pencil. If you use a pen it won't really show up, and the pen might not work very well afterwards. Don't ask me how I know that.
Next, using a paring knife (this is a grown-up step fo' sho'), carefully make a cut along your design that's about 1/4" deep. If you're carving away the negative space, you're going to remove the edges. Removing the design itself is more complicated, so I'll save that for another day.
Anyway, then make little cuts that are perpendicular to your cut line from that line to the edge, also about 1/4" deep.
You then cut from the edge of the potato, parallel to the cut surface from the edge until you hit that line you cut along the design. Does that make sense? The goal is to cut away the little shapes that you cut all around the outside of your design.
Then cut a little handle into the potato but cutting out two wedges. The potato in the paint's handle is showing.
I'm assuming you gathered whatever paint and paper you're using. I used tempera and card stock. You'll also want a tester/blotting paper. Mine's on the right.
Okay, here are a couple of other things I figured out. Did you have any idea potato printing was so complicated? Me either.
See that little line I'm pointing to? If you don't want lines like that you have to be sure that the negative space from your potato is adequately cut away. I had a little ridge that was just a tad too high.
And then see that little empty space I'm pointing to? I figured out that I was hurrying too much (moi?) rather than slowly pressing down from side to side in one motion. If you just stamp in a down-up motion paint doesn't get everywhere. Now both of those "mistakes" are something you could creatively work into the design; I just didn't want them this time.