Printing veggies is food for a creative appetite. Head to the market this season for carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, celery, or whatever fresh produce looks good for making a cozy home project or for gift giving. Print veggie images on paper for framing or on ready made fabric items.
Printing plants of all kinds has historic roots dating back centuries — Ben Franklin printed leaves on colonial currency to deter counterfeiting. Leonardo da Vinci printed a sage leaf in his manuscript Codice Atlantico. In 1557, Italian alchemist Alexius Pedemontanus gave detailed instructions for printing leaves in his Book of Secrets suggesting “… in this way you may make gallant things to adorn your chamber.”
Create some kitchen alchemy by transforming a plain tablecloth and napkins into a bed of roses using celery — no kidding, celery prints resemble roses. Lilliputian broccoli ‘trees’ become whimsical landscapes ready for framing. Print on placemats, recipe cards, canisters, walls . . . once the printing starts it’s hard to stop!
Gather supplies: acrylic paints, plastic plate palette, popsicle sticks to mix colors, cosmetic foam wedges, paper towels, sharp knife, a selection of papers and fabrics, fresh bunch of celery, broccoli, carrots, & some mushrooms.
Prepare vegetables: Cut celery bunch 3″ from root end. Cut off individual broccoli stems including florets to form ‘trees’. Slice each ‘tree’ vertically in half. Slice mushrooms and carrots vertically in half. Blot all cuts with paper towels. Remove leafy tops from carrots and choose a select few for printing.
Print: Hold veggie like a stamp and dab acrylic paint on cut surface using a cosmetic foam wedge. Press to paper or fabric, hold for about 5 seconds, and lift straight up and off to reveal print. Dab leafy carrot tops with paint, place paint side down and cover with newsprint paper. Use hand pressure to print.
Tips for best results:
- Make some practice prints before printing on your project to determine the amount of paint and pressure needed.
- Choose firm, well-formed vegetables to last for many printings.
- Slice vegetables evenly to create a flat, easy to print surface.
- Wrap celery near the but end with a rubber band for stability when printing.
- Choose smooth-surfaced, medium-weight papers and fabrics.
- When printing on fabrics, use acrylic paint made for fabric and heat-set per lable instructions.
- Print on paper using artists acrylic paint.
- Use a separate, clean cosmetic wedge for each color.
- Clean hands between printings to keep project fingerprint-free.
- Place a plastic trash bag under fabric or paper to protect work surface from seepage.
See my book Hand Printing from Nature for 50 project ideas and lots more printing techniques.