Saturday, November 21, 2015

Twin Project: Potato Stamping

Hello friends!
Marquette and I are missing each other something fierce this week (living a whole days drive apart from each other stinks) so we decided we wanted to do something in solidarity even though we are so far apart. We decided that we would each attempt the same pin, using the same directions and see how our results differed, because if there is one thing we know from Pinterest, it's that nothing is an exact copy.
Marquette found this pin and we both thought we could do something fun with it. This involves creating your own fabric stamp out of a potato and essentially making your own print on fabric. Easy-peasy right??
(photo and tutorial by This Little Miggy Stayed Home)

Emilee's Experience:
I had a bunch of fun stuff planned out for this, I thought it would be something I could whip up in twenty minutes like I thought the original had done. Why am I always so optimistic?? lol
I got all of my materials for $10.59 (tax included in that)I was pretty happy with that. I decided I wanted to do scarves so I thought I would cut out the middle man, saving me from dragging my sewing machine out of the closet I bought already made scarves. I was planning on just regular scarves but I found two packs of infinity scarves in the material I liked for $3 a piece, so I bought two packs in the colors I wanted. I also got paint (cranberry and fuchsia pink), sponge brushes and some potatoes. I guess I forgot that the original used fabric paint, but I just bought regular acrylic paint and  I am really happy with how it performed.
I used the blue and white scarves for this project.
I decided on a fleur-de-lis' design for the first try, I didn't think it would be too hard to cut out and I thought it would be elegant (this one was supposed to go to my sister after I finished).
It took me probably 40 min to get the design traced and cut out because of all the flowing edges and getting the remaining potato off was HARD! Am I just not an expert carver?? lol

The next issue was that the center had some how been carved out too much, I didn't think it would be too much of a big deal, but it was...the 'hole' left a missing piece in the print.

That large white piece in the center is lacking potato as seen above. 
I finished the scarf anyways thinking it wouldn't be too bad, and when I finished I realized it just looked like a bloody bandage...oops!! Gory!

It just wasn't the elegant fleur-de-lis' I was hoping for. Scrap it.
Next I tried just a basic flower on a blue scarf...let's see my free hand carving skills (look Ma, no stencil!)
Not entirely even, but not awful.
I found it was easiest to remove the large portion of the potato as I went instead of after, as seen below.
I put newspaper between the layers of scarf and I think it worked really well.
I think this one turned out much better.
 And just in case that looks too is my house after I finished and what was really happening while trying to take pictures lol

All in all I was a little underwhelmed with this, I like the possibility of being able to do any stamp you want, but it took longer than anticipated and it was just kind of 'eh' when I finished. I'm not sure I will do this one again.

Marquette's Experience: 
I was excited to do this. Potato Stamping was completely new to me and I was sure this would be a cheap and easy project. Expectations for this were high. I was going to rock this! 

And then I got to Hobby Lobby and the fabric paint was $4 a tube!! What?! And, they didn't even have the colors I wanted for what I planned and I didn't want to buy a ton of tubes and attempt to mix the color. So I picked out copper (my favorite metallic for years!) and a teal to go with it and figured I'd think of something else other than cute peach flying piggies and silver clouds (I'm not into the big feathers and arrow graphic trend...I wanted something a little different). Next time. 

So I went home, bought my sweet potato to have one really large stamp possibility and figured the small potatoes in our cupboard would be my backup. But this looked simple. I wasn't going to need backup, right? (Oh the pride that gets us into Pinstrosity trouble).  I found a few graphics of flying birds and decided that would be cute and to go with the idea of a flock of teal and copper flying bird silhouettes. 

I went with four different bird silhouettes in various stages of flight, so I needed four potato halves. Done. 

I drew a rough sketch of the birds on the potatoes and then it was carving time. Of course then when I went to my craft drawer I couldn't find my Xacto knife! Did I toss that in the move? Surely not! Oh well. I dug a paring knife out of my kitchen drawer and used that. It worked fine.

 See, my flying birds. Not as beautiful as the original graphics, but I still had high hopes.

I dipped the first one in the paint and did a test dab on a piece of paper and realized that the dipping method was going to give me wayyyy to much paint on the potato. So I used my finger to spread a thin and even layer of paint on the stencil each time.

And I stamped, and stamped, and stamped...and at first really loved the watercolorish look to the birds (especially when I did a 2nd stamp without applying fresh paint). But it just was missing something. The birds looked small on the fabric and my random pattern looked a little goofy. It needed something big. So I caved to the trend because it fit the rest of the design and added in a feather. That helped fill it in more. It definitely needed the bigger graphic in there.

So it was better, but still just meh. I didn't hate it, but I don't love it. I think if I did these particular stamps again I'd try to make it look more like a flock flying and less just random stamps all over.

So, since I had enough fabric for 2 blankets I thought I'd try again. This time I decided to do a checkerboard pattern with a sunburst and a little cursive "i {heart} u". It looked so adorable in my head.

Apparently my head and my hands weren't really communicating that day, because this still just came out kinda meh. First I got my "i {heart} u" stamp made and got ready to start stamping and realized I hadn't written it backwards so it was going to say "u {heart} i" instead. Sliced that off the potato and recarved it. Now I was good to go. Smeared paint on it with my finger and got to stamping.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get a really good clear stamp that made the "words" show up really great! It was so cute when I wrote it on paper, but the stamp just wasn't working. This is the best one I got:

But I hoped maybe it'd look watercolorish and that the sunburst would pull it together. The sunburst did help, but I think I should have made it smaller, and then either done a really aligned checkerboard pattern, or a completely random one, not the wonky checkerboard I thought would look good.

So, overall it was a fun project and one I want to play with more because I think I could get something that I LOVE with the potato stamping idea instead of just "Meh." My lessons learned: 

  • At least one larger graphic helps fill up the fabric and make it look better. 
  • If using words, make them thick and large so that they show up well. 
  • If you don't LOVE the colors when you buy the paint, you won't LOVE them on the fabric either. 
  • Don't wear good jeans no matter how careful you assure yourself you'll be because you're very carefully drop the potato on your leg somewhere in the process. 
Obviously Marquette was more adventurous than I, but I think our feeling of the project and our results were similar. Just kind of underwhelmed by our results and not exactly what we had envisioned. Maybe with more practice this would be better. I like that we could try the same pin on the same day and see each others results even though we are so far apart, it kind of made me feel closer to her, giggling at our fails and nodding our heads in unison to the things we each thought needed work.

Has anyone tried this extensively and had great end results? Share them with us! We would love to see them!


  1. Where on earth did you get those infinity scarves at 2 for $3???

  2. I really like the images you both chose to use. I can imagine that the Fleur-de-lis must have been a challenge to carve!

  3. In my experience potato stamping is so not worth the effort. If I'm going to go through the slow, painstaking hassle of carving a stamp, I'd rather spend a little extra money and buy a block of rubber designed for carving stamps that'll last more than a day. Your projects turned out cute, though, and I love how you did the same project together even though you're far away.

  4. I haven't found potato stamping to be worth the effort either. I like being able to design stamps, though. I did a project where I cut a design out of those thin foam sheets and glued it to a block of wood and the design turned out great. It's less expensive than buying rubber designed for carving stamps, but of course won't last as long.

  5. I absolutely love the comparison idea! Emilee, I'm afraid acrylic paint won't behave very well when washed...

  6. When I was a child, way back in the 1970s, we did potato stamps for all kinds of things. But we never used a sweet potato. I would think that would be too fibrous. Was it? Anyway, it's a fun project to do with kids, and my children and now grandchildren have all made gift wrapping paper for the holidays and birthdays.

    1. The original pin used a sweet potato, but maybe that was more for the shape (to get a good long thin feather stamp made) than it was for the "medium". So we both tried sweet potatoes as well since that was what was in the pin (but then I added in regular baking taters because I had them on hand when I wanted more stamps). I found the sweet potato harder to carve and harder to get crisp edges. I can see how it would lend itself well to a feather in the original pin. I think if I were to try this again I'd just use baking potatoes and not sweet potatoes.


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