Monday, October 13, 2014

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato -- Print!

 
If you thought that DIY art for staging a home requires a new bag of expensive tools and supplies, you’d be wrong.

Look no further than your kitchen for almost everything you need to produce attractive prints that you can frame and use to stage your home for sale. Or just decorate the home you love.
  
All this week I’ll be showing you how to make frame-worthy prints from common kitchen supplies and equipment – vegetables, food dye, parchment paper, tin cans, egg cartons, cookie cutters, vegetable oil, potato mashers...stuff like that.

It should be fun. And productive as well.

We’ll start with the vegetable printing technique that every scout leader and primary school teacher has taught. And most of us have made when we were little.

Making the Potato Tree
 
Here's what you need to make this poster featuring a simple graphic image of a tree.
  • About 3 potatoes, different sizes
  • Knife, preferably a sharp one with a broad blade so you can make one level cut across the middle of a potato 
  • Vegetable peeler or old-style can opener
  • A paper or foam plate for mixing colors
  • Craft paints, at least 3 colors typical of leaves (either greens or autumn colors), plus brown for the tree trunk
  • Foam brush or other cheap brush
  • Paper towels
  • Scrap paper to use for test printing
  • Poster frame and backing
  • Sheet of poster board sized to fit in frame
Any of these kitchen tools will  give you good incised lines in the surface of your
potato. You can practice on a spare potato to get the feel for it.
Cut all potatoes in half. Use the sharp point of a vegetable peeler or can opener to etch veins into leaves as shown. If you want a point on one end of your leaves, slice away some of the potato edge to create one. You can cut your potatoes a day in advance if that’s easier, and let them stand at room temperature.

Try slightly different shapes and sizes for your leaves. 

The colors you choose can be realistic like these, or more imaginative.
Consider the colors in the room where your poster will hang.

Arrange some small blobs of your chosen leaf colored craft paints on the plate. This will be your palette. Use a brush to paint the surface of the potato print with paint. No leaf is all one color, so dab different shades of greens and even some white paint to make them interesting. Don’t worry if some paint gets into the groves you cut.

Your palette will start out tidy, but get messy as you work. That's normal.

Mix the colors with your brush. to make new colors. You can load one edge or one side
of the brush with one color and use another color on the flip side. 
Test print a few times to get the feel of how much paint to use and how to press the potatoes. To make it easy to get a grip, make a handle with a corkscrew in the back of the potato. You can also use corn-on-the-cob holders as handles.

I used white envelopes from junk mail to test almost every potato before printing with it.
The finished tree image should be positioned in the middle of the poster board, and with a slightly wider margin at the bottom than at the top. Envision the total shape of your tree, and start printing leaves at the top, or around the edges. Fill in the tree shape with your different incised potatoes, however you like.
Start the tree in the middle of the top and aim for a rounded symmetrical shape.  

If there are gaps in your leaves you can always cut one of your potatoes and
use it to print partial leaves to fill the spaces. 
Don’t overlap the prints or it will begin to look sloppy. When you are done, load a brush with brown craft paint and paint a tree trunk in one stroke.

Don't worry if your tree trunk looks rough. That primitive quality
is part of the charm of potato prints.
Lastly, add your signature near the bottom right, and give your picture a name near the bottom left. This looks really impressive!

An artist's signature tells the world you are proud of your work,
and that it wasn't produced on an assembly line. 

Once it’s dry, frame your picture in a poster frame with its acetate or glass cover.

If you want to make your house look better than it does now, just download my $4.99 eBook, How to Arrange Furniture, A Guide to Arranging  Furniture Using What You Have. 



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