Kids don't need fancy tools or techniques to put their stamp on a T-shirt -- they don't even need to know how to paint. Adding a playful print to a plain top is simple with ordinary baking potatoes. Thanks to their firm texture, raw potatoes can be easily shaped into sturdy stamps, and their smooth interiors are perfect for coating with fabric paint. Kids can use cookie cutters or other kitchen molds, such as aspic cutters, to turn a spud into a stamp quickly. Or parents can cut out shapes and small details with a knife. Our tips will help kids get started, and the styles here are sure to inspire them to dream up their own -- after all, who knows what can come from a vision and a vegetable?
Cookie cutters can provide ready-made shapes -- flowers, animals, or letters -- for your design. Different-size spuds can be sliced crosswise to create small or large petals or polka dots. You can use a potato sliver for stems or grass; hand-paint very thin details. Before drawing embellishments on top of a stamped image, as with facial features, let the paint dry.
Each part of an item can be made with a separate stamp; for this flower, we cut a blossom with a cookie cutter, leaves with an aspic cutter (normally used for shaping jellied garnishes), and a stem with a knife. A large, simple stamp, like a star, is easiest for younger kids to work with. For letters or numbers, place the cutter on the potato so the character is backward and cut out; turn the stamp over, and dip it into the paint. A fingerling potato is great for making small polka dots -- just cut off the tip.
Slice a potato (we used large russets) in half lengthwise. Place a cookie cutter on the cut side of one half; set aside the other potato half to use for another stamp.
Push the cutter through the potato, keeping the potato flat on the table; break away excess potato.
Poke the shape out of the cutter; blot away any moisture with a paper towel.
Spread a thin layer of fabric paint on a paper plate using a craft stick. Dip the shape, white side down, into the paint a few times, moving it around for an even coat; wipe off any paint on the sides of the stamp with a paper towel.
Stamp the shape onto a cotton shirt (slip cardboard inside the shirt first), pressing down firmly for five seconds. (When printing onto a dark-colored shirt with lighter-colored paint, give the stamps an extra-thick coating of paint.) Use a different stamp for each color of paint.