Block Printing with Vegetables

Block Printing with Vegetables

Fall is a great time for a creative project with your child. The weather is cooling down and the holidays are coming up. You might be thinking about handmade gifts to give your family members. In this post, I’ll show you how easy block printing with vegetables is onto paper and fabric.

You’ll be amazed by the result!

I’ll explain how to make quick veggie stamps for fun, or, create a project you can keep and use. We created a table runner and it turned out so cute!

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What is a block print or block printing?

A block print is like a stamp. You create a stamp by cutting a simple shape into a firm object. In this case, a vegetable. You then dip it into paint and stamp it on paper or fabric.

A root vegetable is an easy and fun way to introduce your child to this technique. Carrots especially are easy for a child to hold, simple to cut and make the best polka dot.

Block printing as an art technique has a history originating in East Asia. It is thousands of years old. You might see woodblock printing in ancient text and artworks in museums. In those works, the artisan meticulously carved wood and printed it with ink onto silk fabric.

Block printing is still done today. Artists’ cut into foam, linoleum, or wood and handprint onto paper and fabric. From crafters to high-end design, this technique is well-loved because of the imperfect handmade feel.

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Block Printing with Vegetables

How To Start Block Printing with Vegetables

Supplies you’ll need

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Why I recommend natural “cotton duck” fabric

You’ll need a strong, heavyweight, durable cotton fabric. This fabric has a tight-knit weave and grainy texture. It’s also flexible so it’s easy to iron and cut with scissors. It takes the paint really well from block printing.

You might recognize this fabric, it is used for paint canvases, aprons, tote bags, placemats, and more. Basically, it is a canvas fabric.

Don’t worry, it’s called “cotton duck” but no animals were harmed to create it. Cotton duck comes from the Dutch word doek for linen canvas.

Steps to create test prints and a simple table runner

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Prior to the project:

Purchase a couple yards of natural cotton duck fabric and cut into a table runner shape (about 15” x 64”) this includes at least 1” extra around the perimeter. Cold wash and line dry. Iron well.

Day of the project:

Protect your furniture and clothing. Tape a large piece of crate paper to your activity area. Use painter’s tape to tape down edges where you need to. Have your little one wear an apron!

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When you’re ready to start:

  1. Gather your veggies. Wash and dry.
  2. Prepare your veggies, cut in half. If using a white potato, slice in half, in quarters, or cut into a specific shape (like a triangle).
  3. Prepare the paint. Squeeze out your colors into shallow containers or onto paper plates.
  4. Do some test prints. Have your child stamp on some blank sheets of paper to get a feel for stamping.
  5. Dip a pre-cut veggie into one color of paint, ensuring the bottom is evenly coated
  6. Press the painted side onto the paper firmly.
  7. Lift the veggie from the paper to see the printed result.
  8. Make a table runner. Place your pre-washed, dry and ironed fabric in front of your child after test prints are complete. Help your child press down firmly and move the fabric along to make it easy to stamp all over the surface.
  9. Repeat the process using other veggies and other colors, one at a time.
  10. Finish the table runner by stamping in empty areas. You can line up shapes in a semi-regular pattern, or, stamp them in a random scatter. It’s up to you!

Note: Let your paper and fabric fully dry. Fabric will take 24 hours to dry. If you are a crafter, sew the seams. If not, cut the edges with pinking shears so they don’t fray too badly. 

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Tips for Successful Block Printing

Limit your palette

Limit your paint colors. 3 colors work well. It always works well to choose neutrals in addition to a bold color. See tips for choosing colors from my previous article on color block painting. If you’re making a table runner, use colors that will look great in your home.

Note: Try metallic gold or silver paint. It adds something special and has a holiday feel.

Choose only 2 or 3 vegetables

Limit veggies you are using. Less is more and it’s so true. The more shapes and colors you use, the more chaotic the print will be. You can teach your child how just a few shapes and colors can create a big impact!

Work fast

My 3-year old focused on this project and helped me stamp shapes for about 15 minutes. After that, I continued the project quickly and he enjoyed coming back to see what I was doing and stamping veggies here and there. I didn’t worry at all about paint drips or messy stamps.

A finished product

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Enjoy the process of block printing and its imperfections. There are so many happy mistakes if you do an art project with a child!

I hope you can see how easy it is to block print with vegetables onto paper and fabric. By using heavyweight fabric and machine washable fabric paint, you’ll have a finished product you can wash and use for years.

Let your child see the finished product in a real-world setting. We used our handmade table runner for Halloween dinner with guests and it was so special!

I think I want to make one for every season. I see all the smudges and paint smears and I love that my son and I created this together.

Block Printing with Vegetables


Maureen Lowe
Maureen Lowe

Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog-friendly outings that work in all seasons.