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Advent DIY Day 17: Potato Print Wrapping Paper by Grace Gladdish

Dec 17, 2013

by Jo Casley

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Every day between December 1st and December 25th, we bring you a new festive ‘how to’ as part of our DIY Advent series.

Grace Gladdish is a busy mother of 5 who lives on a flower farm in country Tasmania. Grace has been creating art objects for most of her life and has exhibited work all over Australia. She collects vintage women’s magazines and old medical books, and also finds inspiration in the beauty that surrounds her on the farm.

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How is Etsy a place where one of a kind gifts come from for you?

Nowhere else can you shop globally from the comfort of your own home for handmade and bespoke gifts – its a handmade global village!

Do you have a story about a unique buying experience?

I am really excited about a present I have bought for my 18 year old daughter – but I can’t divulge because I know she’ll read this!

What is your favourite handmade Christmas present?

My favourite handmade Christmas present, apart from all the little things my kids give me, would be some beautifully crafted decorations made by a friend years ago.  I still cherish them.

Do you have a certain ritual that you do regularly every Christmas?

Our family has a couple of Christmas rituals – first is that the tree goes up early, on the 31st October. Second, all presents are a surprise!!! Third, we have an eclectic collection of Christmas decorations which we have been collecting since my husband and I spent our first christmas together.  We buy a new one (or two!!) every year and write the date on the bottom. Our tree is the decoration equivalent of a crazy tea set.

Potato Print Wrapping Paper:

Potato printing is a simple version of relief printing that anyone can do at home, without needing any special equipment.  It’s fun and the results can be really special.  Kids love to help too, and you can involve them in the process for a great holiday craft activity.

 You will need:

  • Clean potatoes in various sizes

  • A large kitchen knife

  • A small kitchen knife or paring knife

  • Optional – lino carving tools

  • Acrylic or water based paint

  • Plastic disposable plates or similar

  • Large sheets of newsprint paper or kraft paper and card to print on

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Instructions:

I’ve chosen some of my favourite Australian wildflowers as the motifs for this project but you can print any simple shape you can think of.  If you aren’t an accomplished carver, stick to shapes like stars (great printed in silver paint) Christmas trees or other festive shapes. Think about what colours you’d like to use too.

In my design depicting a waratah flower I need to cut two separate potato printing blocks because I’m using two colours – one for the flower and one for the stalk. Choose a potato that resembles the shape you want to print.

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Using the large kitchen knife, slice the potato in half cleanly so that you have a flat, even surface to carve into. It needs to be as flat as possible to print well.

Draw your design onto the cut surface of the potato with a pencil – coloured pencils seem to work best.  Carefully, with the small paring knife or lino carving tools, cut away the areas you don’t want to print leaving your design as a raised area.

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Use the plastic disposable plate to put out your paint – a plastic spoon is great for mixing colours if you need to.  Spread the paint out and press your carved image into it, ensuring you get good coverage over the entire raised area.

Have your newsprint or kraft paper spread out on a flat clean surface. Apply the print, thinking about how you would like to repeat the pattern. A simple repeat pattern looks great, but as you go you’ll want to try other repeating patterns.  It’s all part of the fun! A clean stamping action works well for a clean print.  You only need to re-ink your potato printing block every 2 or 3 stamps.

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Once we’ve done the green stalks of our waratah flower, we print the flower. You can see that the shape of the potato we’ve used really suits the shape of the flower – this helps with simplifying the cutting process.  It also means that the potato keeps its shape for longer and you can get more printing done. We tried our waratah design on different papers and in different patterns.

Using waterbased paint means your gift wrap will dry quickly. Hang it up somewhere where it can dry without being smudged.

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Using the same waratah design, we also made some simple gift tags. Simply print your design onto heavy card, leave it to dry, and cut around it for great results.

Tips 

  • If you get too much paint on the potato, use some paper kitchen towel to remove the excess

  • If you want to try a different colour with your potato, carefully wash it water and pat it dry before re-using it

Potato printing can achieve some really great rustic-style prints for gift wrap and tags. Embellish your wrap with simple jute twine or burlap ribbon to complete the rustic feel.

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Have you made any Christmas advent DIYs? We’d love to see – send us pictures with the hashtag #ChristmasAdventDIY and we’ll share them on Facebook.com/EtsyUK and Twitter @EtsyUK.

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