Printmaking is hands down my favorite art activity. Little kids, big kids, professionals, and non artists can all find something they enjoy in the super varied world of printmaking. It is the least intimidating of art media (at least to me) because no drawing skill is required! It can be as simple as these potato prints; carve, paint, and print!
This printmaking activity is as simple as you want it to be. I’ve seen some super sophisticated art (see book below) that started life as a potato. Your kiddos can be involved at whatever level you are comfortable with. I let my six and eight year old wield their own paring knives and go to town but the carving part can also be done by an adult.
This book by Anders Hanson offers a lot of unique ideas for even a non artsy mommas to introduce kids of all ages to the super varied world of printmaking! If you as an adult are not super comfortable giving art instruction or experiences to your kiddos then printmaking is a great place to start. It requires no drawing ability and you can literally make prints with anything!
Cool Printmaking; The Art of Creativity for Kids! is a great resource book you will find yourself coming back to again and again.
The potato prints materials list is slim!
Once your kiddos get an idea of the possibilities of a simple potato it’s time to get started. The materials list is so simple; potatoes, a paring knife, any washable paint and a brush to apply it, and paper (colored or otherwise.) I threw in some bubble wrap to add to the printmaking fun!
I let both my six and eight year old carve their own stamps. (Insert knife safety lesson here.) My kiddos are pretty comfortable with a knife so once the potatoes were cut into chunks with flat bottoms (for stability sake) I set them free.
Geometric shapes tend to be easier to make than organic or curved shapes. We talked about making a cut down on one side of the shape you are trying to cut out and then making a cut on the other. The next step is to use your knife to “pop” out the little piece of potato.
Other than this I didn’t give a whole lot of instruction. My eight year old was able to control her knife and get the results she was hoping for. Mr. Six had less control but enjoyed the process all the same.
Let’s add some color!
Once the potato stamps were carved came the painting fun! We used a brush to paint washable paint onto our stamps but you could also load your stamp with paint by dipping it into a plate of paint. Both methods will get the job done.
We experimented with making patterns, overlapping, and mixing colors. I even threw a few pieces of bubble wrap into the mix. Bubble wrap makes such a fun printed texture~ I couldn’t resist!
It’s all about the process!
This kind of art focuses on the process and the product is a bonus. Just because my six year old’s stamps did not turn out as he expected doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the experience. He worked and worked to get it “just right.” He ended up filthy and happy as a clam.
Letting kids make their own decisions about art encourages their confidence in art and life!
It’s okay if art ends up messy, or muddy, or totally other than what it is “supposed” to look like. There are many things in a little person’s life that they cannot control and art should not be one of them! Give in to the mess!
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