Pangolin Potato Prints

This morning I made Christmas cards. I decided that I wanted to make cards this year, but for it to be fun, as opposed to a lot of time fretting over them. So the answer.. printing.. specifically, potato printing!

I made this little drawing as my starting point, based on a postcard I bought at the British Library exhibition. I thought the idea of a Christmas tree coming to life as a pangolin would be fun – these creatures do look a little bit like pine cones after all.

I got the longest potato in the cupboard and cut it in half. A basic error I made with my previous (and first) printing attempt was not cutting the potato very straight, making the surface of the print uneven. So, cut it straight, with a sharp knife in one motion. Ninja style if you can. (I can’t)

Then, I drew the pangolin outline onto a piece of paper, exactly the size I wanted to print. I used thin-ish paper, so the outline showed through when turned over. I transferred the drawing to the potato by turning the piece of paper over, putting it on the cut surface of the potato and pricking the outline through with a pin. When I took the paper off again, the pinpricks were barely visible, so I used a paintbrush to apply a thin wash of colour to the potato cut surface to ‘bring out’ the design.

I then used a scalpel to cut out the outline and cut away a layer of potato from the edge. This bit’s fiddly, and worth taking time over. You need to make sure there are no little pieces left in the gaps, because these will accumulate paint, giving a smudgy outline. Details of eyes, nose and scales were done just by making cuts, not by lifting any pieces out – potato prints can give a surprising amount of detail.

Then, I printed onto the cards, playing around with pangolin placement.

Next, some colour in the shape of some baubles, a star, and a Xmas tree bucket.

Finished! Well, apart from the finishing touch, with the glitter glue. Trust me, it’ll work.

A visit to the British Library

On Sunday we went to see Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire at the British Library.

The dozens of vivid, excruciatingly finely detailed miniature paintings on display would have originally been made only for the eyes of a select few at the royal court. Which is why it’s all the more special to see them today, along with thousands of other visitors (although it wasn’t that busy when we were there!).

I particularly liked one eighteenth-century painting of a pangolin by Shaikh Zain al-Din.

It inspired a (slightly less) lavish idea for homemade pangolin Xmas cards. Stay tuned..

Knitting Lessons

Recently I had a fantastic opportunity to teach some beginners to knit. Thankyou Craft Guerrilla for the experience!

It was fun, but a reminder of how awkward it feels when you first hold the needles. Knitting is such a relaxing and therapeutic activity, but in order to get to that stage, you need to get through the slightly frustrating and slow process of learning. I was so proud to get a group of newbies through casting on and mastering knit stitch. They were keen enough to take their yarn and needles home, so hopefully I’ve inspired some new knitters.

I was so intensely focused on peering over everyone’s shoulders that I forgot to take any pictures, so here’s Sayed patiently acting as my ‘guinea pig’ learner. Apologies for the terrible quality images, but I couldn’t resist attempting an animated gif.

dhBPyI on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif