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Design Threads: Potato Block Printing


The ancient craft of hand block printing is one of our great loves at the Kit Kemp Design Studio. We always like to see the perfect in the imperfect and love the irregularities and handmade quality of the end result.

Whilst in isolation, we decided to try our hand at block printing at home and we hope you feel inspired to do the same.

Traditionally the repeat pattern for block printing is hand carved into wooden blocks. Discover more about the art of traditional block printing in Rajasthan, India HERE.

This is an intricate process and an art form in itself, one that can take years to perfect, so we’ve simplified things and have used potatoes instead. Accessible, affordable and they make great stamps for printing!

We have decided to add a decorative border to an old table cloth, but this method is great for adding detail to a leading edge of a pair of curtains, for creating your own fabric for cushions or equally effective on paper for letters and cards.

Step 1.

What you need:

Potatoes
Fabric
Sharp knife
Pencil
Cotton buds
Paint brush
Acrylic paint
Fabric Painting Medium

Step 2.

Choose your design. This doesn’t need to be elaborate or detailed, just something simple that will look strong or interesting as a repeat.

For our design, we took inspiration from a carpet detail, a carved wooden planter and from nature.

Step 3.

Cut your potato in half, draw your design onto the cut side of the potato with a pencil and cut around it so that your design stands in relief by approximately 1/2cm.

Step 4.

Mix acrylic paint with your fabric painting medium (follow instructions on the bottle), then use a paint brush to apply it to your stamp and start printing.

Applying a thin layer of paint to the stamp between each print helps with consistency but this is optional depending on how saturated you want the colour to be.

Each time you lift your stamp you get a slightly different impression adding to the excitement of the process.

Here, the paint has been applied less frequently to the leaf stamp to give a more faded effect.

In addition to potato stamps, you can also use cotton buds to add extra detail – here used for the flower stalks and seeds.

The repetition is incredibly calming and the end result is so satisfying. All you need is time, some potatoes and a little inspiration!

Please tag your creations on Instagram with #designthreads and we’ll share our favourites.

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