From the initial design process, through to the carving of the block, the mixing of the colour and the actual printing process, self-taught textile designer Molly Mahon has always found printing to be meditative.
See also… Block printer: Molly Mahon
Molly designs and creates beautiful and original fabrics, wallpapers and functional art pieces for the home.
Here, she shares how you can create your own hand-block design with a simple potato (yes, really) to use on papers, table linen or pillowcases.
POTATO PRINTMAKING – HOW TO HAND BLOCK PRINT
You will need
- A potato – to cut/carve your design into
- Paintbrush and paint (try sample pots or children’s poster paints)
- A knife, spoon or biscuit cutter to create your design
1. PREP YOUR POTATO
First cut your potato in half so that you have a nice flat surface to start cutting into. If you are working with children, make sure you do the work with the knife for them – the rest of the process is child-friendly.
For this project, I have cut the potato into a perfect square and from here you can start creating geometric shapes with your biscuit cutter.
2. DECIDE ON A DESIGN
Start with a simple design – these are great because they look fantastic when repeated or flipped in different directions to make geometric patterns. Cutting symmetrical shapes also helps create a regular geometric pattern.
3. LOAD UP YOUR STAMP WITH PAINT
Load up your carved potato with your chosen paint – you’ll need to load up your potato shape with paint each time you print it.
When printing with wooden blocks, I usually use blankets to pad the table but potatoes are great as they have their own springy texture that is perfect for printing with.
4. START PRINTING
Line up where you want to start printing and go for it! Press firmly on your potato to transfer the paint to paper.
Try printing your shape so that it touches the last print, as this will give you an amazing negative space pattern as well as your printed area. Don’t waste a scrap of potato!
Use a circle created by the biscuit cutter to add a second colour to your print. And there you have it – with just two simple shapes you have created a geometric print using a potato!
5. TRY IT ON FABRIC
If you would like to try printing on fabric, you will need a fabric paint that is colour-fast and can be heat-set with an iron.
Dig around in your linen cupboard for those old sheets and repurpose them into napkins or a tablecloth. Old worn linen is so lovely to print on.
Either way, have fun printing!
House of Print by Molly Mahon (Pavilion, £16.99) is available from good bookshops or on Molly’s website, mollymahon.com. Molly also sells printing kits, from £32.
Follow her on Instagram @mollymahonblockprinting
Photography / Molly Mahon