Handmade Stationery: Better than Twitter!

Hand-stamped stationery decorated with stamps made from ordinary potatoes is great fun to make and to send.

By Barbara Albright


Does someone owe Grandma a thank you note? Want to make a special gift for Mom? Do the kids need an afternoon project?

Let the vegetable bin come to the rescue! Cut a design in a sturdy russet (baking) potato and get busy making hand-stamped stationery, note cards, gift cards, bookmarks, and placecards.

Start with the Paper and the Paint
Select plain white and colored paper and envelopes for a mix-and-match look. Card stock in various colors makes attractive note cards, gift cards, and bookmarks.

Once you have some colors picked out, decide on the color of paint. Buy water-based, non-toxic paint sold at craft and stationery stores.

You will also need small paint brushes.

Cut the Potato Stamp
Cut the potato in half through the equator. With the tip of a paring knife or X-Acto knife, etch a design in the potato's flesh. Carve out around the design so that it stands out.

Geometric shapes are most effective: stars, triangles, diamonds. With practice, your kids might want to make more intricate patterns such as flowers and leaves.

Little children will need help tracing the design and an older child or adult will have to cut it out.

Brush the design with a thin layer of paint - enough so that it's well coated but not dripping. Test the stamp on a piece of scrap paper and if it's satisfactory, get to work on the selected paper or envelopes.

Depending on the age of the children and their level of expertise, they can make numerous stamps and mix the colors. Use a separate stamp for each color to avoid smudged colors.

More Ideas
Firm fruit such as apples, pears, and star fruit make stamps that need no carving. Slice the apple or pear in half through the stem, blot it dry if juicy, and brush the halves lightly with paint. The resulting stamp will be in the shape of a pear or apple.

Cut the star fruit open and use it to stamp organic stars.

You can also carve designs in gum erasers sold in art supply stores. Unlike vegetable and fruit stamps, which end up in the compost heap after use, these keep indefinitely.

Potatoes to the rescue for a rainy day...or just a long afternoon...!