How to hand-block print your own designs with Molly Mahon

Try potato printmaking with the family this summer – you could be a textile designer in the making

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

Potato-printmaking-with-Molly-Mahon-what-you-need

  • A potato – to cut/carve your design into
  • Paintbrush and paint (try sample pots or children’s 
poster paints)
  • Paper
  • 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.

Potato-printmaking-with-Molly-Mahon-prep-potato

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.

Potato-printmaking-with-Molly-Mahon-load-paint

 

 

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.

Potato-printmaking-with-Molly-Mahon-print

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!

Potato-printmaking-with-Molly-Mahon-print-2

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

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