family potato printing

design, eco-craft, family, general crafts

My beloved late mother-in-law set the bar really high for motherhood. Bill, his sister and Bill’s childhood friends all remember a creative ease that seems to have been around the kitchen table on a regular basis. It never sounded as though it was a big production or anything. She just seemed to always have a the perfect materials within reach so even non-artsy kids wouldn’t hesitate to jump in. “She always made it look so easy,” is a phrase I’ve heard from so many of her admirers. No pressure, right?

For the past few years Bill has always managed to say “We’ve got to get Sophie started making potato prints. We always made potato prints when I was a kid. It’s such a great activity for kids, making potato prints,” right about the time I’d just cut up the last potato for vegetable soup. Unlike other craft supplies that last I never seemed to get the timing/potato availability combo right. I’ve heard doctors talk about the stress that causes heart attacks is not usually the stress from deaths and crises but rather the constant stress of small things like the broken hinge on the back door that you never get around to fixing. For some bizarre reason, my inability to make the potato print activity happen was starting to cause me to stress out every time I saw a potato!

So in the midst of a ton of totally stressful deadlines a couple of weeks ago, I went to make lunch on a Sunday and noticed that there were two potatoes that had sprouted under the sink. I swear that sirens went off in my head. Oh my gosh! I have to do potato prints! Right this moment! Because I can’t have this on my Mommy To Do List for another day! I made the long-awaited family proclamation that I would be gathering all of the supplies for making potato prints after lunch. Surprisingly no trumpets sounded and no one rang the doorbell to notify me that I had finally been promoted from Associate Mom to Full Mom.

As expected, it was Sophie’s favorite new activity and within days she asked to make them again. We used some simple carving tools Bill had for printmaking as well as an x-acto knife. We used inexpensive acrylic paints and made note cards and patterns that we may recolor in Photoshop for fabric designs. Sophie didn’t want to stop and I am now putting her in charge of reminding me to get potatoes when the mood strikes. I no longer need to shoulder that heavy burden.

I should be fine until Bill remembers that his mom’s old pasta machine is in the basement and that we should show Sophie how much fun it is to make polymer clay projects with it.

67 thoughts on “family potato printing

  1. I don’t know Weeks–from everything you’ve posted on here (not just this post) it seems like you are a pretty awesome mom. I hope I can be so awesome for my daughter.

  2. @Mary – thanks for your kind words. Sophie is such a great kid. I always wish I could do better because that’s what she deserves. Ditto for Bill in the wife department.

    @smqvp – I was pretty proud of those pansies! I’ll pass on your compliments to Sophie.

  3. If you cut across a stalk of celery, a print of it looks like a rose. Next time you are in a painting mode but are out of potatoes, try celery. Not that I want to make younervous about using up celery or anything…

  4. Weeks- I have to agree with the others that I think you sound like a pretty awesome mom. At least if you are making potato prints you and Bill must be feeling better. I’m sorry you missed the Quilt Festival.

  5. I have quite a few potatoes in the cold cellar just waiting to be put into the garden. I should use a few of them for making prints!

  6. This is great! I remember doing this as a kid, and had forgotten about the craft. I have potatoes in my cubbard that are surely sprouting eyes right now. I know what I’ll be doing with the kids this weekend.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. I loved potato prints as a kid! My mom was one of those effortlessly crafty women. I made potato prints, paper flowers, cute little tissue-paper fruits (no idea). So many projects. I’m sure your kids appreciate whatever little activities you plan for them–no need to copy your MIL!

  8. I remember doing this as a kid too! I know the next activity I’ll be doing the moment my girls are bored. Thanks so much for bringing back tonnes of memories for me!
    Great post and beautiful prints.

  9. Good Morning. We never did potato prints as a kid (darnnn), but my mom and older sisters had the younger kids always doing a project together in the kitchen. My favorite was decorating cookies, making different candies, and E.eggs. I miss that. Great blog. Happy Saturday to you. :)

  10. Thanks for bringing back a GREAT memory! My Mom had us doing potato prints and I just loved it. The downside is that now I think I have the same “when I see a potato….” thing locked in to my head!

  11. I have NEVER seen such a thing. How awesome. I can’t wait to try it with my kids. I am not sure how I will make such advanced designs in a potato but maybe my hubby can help me out there. A chance to play with a knife. Congrats on FP.

  12. What an awesome activity to do! I’m just so fascinated about how simple things found in the house can be made into works of art…love the yellow flowers!

  13. I also love long, involved fiction–have you checked out ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and/or ‘World Without End’? (I have reviews of both of those on my ‘books’ page). Thanks for your recommendations! I’m especially intrigued by that last one you mention.

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