It doesn't take much to put your stamp on something — a little bit of paint and a potato is all you need. Local graphic designer Julie Scofield, who sells handmade jewelry at events like the Lowcountry Artist Market, takes us through the fun and frugal process of making and using potato stamps. They can be used for everything from stationery to gift wrap to book covers to textiles. Here, Scofield created hand-stamped envelopes and a print for her new home.
• Large baking potato (can make up to four stamps)
• Canvas, cotton fabric, paper, or any other material you would like to print on
• Box-cutter, X-acto knife, and/or paring knife
• Pen or pencil to trace design
• Acrylic paint or fabric paint (you can even try to mix food color and water for a different effect)
• Paintbrush (optional for applying paint and details)
1. Cut potatoes in half and pat them dry. Try to get as much of a straight edge as possible or some areas of your stamp may not appear on your printed material.
2. Draw or lightly carve the desired shape onto the surface of the potato using a pencil, marker, or pen. Avoid designs with lots of tight corners or rounded edges unless you're a pro with a paring knife. Stars, diamonds, and chevrons are great for beginners.
3. Cut around the shape with a box-cutter or knife — imagine paring an apple — so that the design is raised on the surface of the potato. Be sure to carve at least a quarter inch from the potato. Use an X-acto knife for more detailed work. This is definitely not a project for perfectionists — allow room for a lot of organic little mistakes when carving your design. Embrace the element of surprise. For more complicated and detailed shapes, you can use metal cookie cutters to give you basic outlines before cutting them out
4. Apply an even layer of paint to your stamp either by dipping the stamp into the paint or by using a paintbrush, which allows a more even coat and application. You can usually get a few uses out of each application before you have to reapply, depending on how thick you want the paint to be. The stamp can also be washed and used again with another color.
5. Start stamping. If you're stamping on fabric or thin paper, make sure to insert a layer of cardboard underneath the layer.
6. Allow to dry completely.
Play with your vegetables — potatoes aren't the only veggies that moonlight as artsy instruments. Try chopping off the bottom of bok choy, radicchio, or celery for a pretty floral design.