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Art Project: Vegetable Printing

01.29.11 Art Project: Vegetable Printing

vegetable print post

I've kept a replenished vegetable bin all winter now, ready to make winter soups on a whim. Whenever I cut into vegetables, it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful they look inside. Especially a red cabbage! The colors and shapes of beets and squash, cabbage and yams have inspired a favorite old-school printing process: vegetable printing.

To make vegetable prints, use a nice quality natural paper, so the paint is slightly absorbed and not smeared around. I especially like using eco-paint because it's natural, non-toxic and easy to clean up. It's also conveniently packaged (comes in powder form) so you can make small batches and control the thickness of paint by adding either more powder or water. 

For printing vegetables, you'll want the paint to have a thicker consistency (think maple syrup) so the vegetable can grab hold of it. It's always helpful to wear an art smock when painting. I'd rather think about the art-making than keeping paint off my kid's clothes.

When it comes to beautiful design, I'm particularly smitten with the base of a celery stalk. When cut off, it reveals a natural flower shape, perfect for printing. As the celery base fits easily into your hand, dip or apply paint onto the exposed crescent-shapes and with light pressure, press onto the paper. Repeat as many times as you like. For yams and potatoes, try using the coring device on a vegetable peeler and dig out some patterns. Apply or dip into paint and press onto paper. Try the same with cabbage. Think about painting the paper in a solid color first and then printing a vegetable in a contrasting color. Hopefully the excitement of making art with vegetables leads to eating them (except the ones covered in paint)!

It's fun to consider: what other vegetables could be used to make a beautiful print?

What printing projects have you done?

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