British print designer Molly Mahon gives you her ultimate starter guide to block printing.

We asked British print designer Molly Mahon to give us a quick guide to block printing that you can follow at home.  The repetitive process makes block printing a super simple and incredibly relaxing way to unleash your creativity.  

An introduction to potato printing

You will need: Some paint and a brush. This can be any paint you want to experiment with such as sample pots or children’s poster paint. A potato, for cutting and carving your design. A knife, spoon or biscuit cutter to cut and carve your design with.

1. First cut your potato in half so that you have a nice flat surface to start carving or cutting into. If you are working with children make sure you do the knife work for them, the rest of the process is child friendly.

2. Start with a simple design, the simplest designs can look fantastic when repeated or flipped in different directions to make geometric patterns.

3. Cut into the potato using straight cuts from the outside in, removing whole pieces of the potato to create your design. You can even use a biscuit cutter to create round shapes by removing areas of the potato with your cutter.

4. Load up your carved potato with your chosen paint, using your paint brush to paint it on evenly.

5. Once your potato is covered you are ready to print. When printing with wooden blocks I usually use blankets to pad the table but potatoes are great as they have their own springy texture that is perfect for printing with.

6. Line up where you want to start printing and go for it! Press firmly on your potato to transfer the paint to paper.

7. Lift your potato up, holding the edge of your paper so it doesn’t stick. Now you have your first print, you can use this as a guide for printing a whole piece of paper with your repeat pattern. pieces

8. Every time you make a print remember to re-load your potato with more paint, this is important to achieve a nice crisp print each time.

9.Repeat until you have a whole page of pattern.  Look at the white negative space that is created when it is repeated. These negative spaces can be really interesting when working with small geometric patterns. In this star design you can also see rectangles and small diamonds, adding elements to the design that you didn’t have to carve! Now keep experimenting, cut and carve lots of designs and let the meditative power of block printing calm you.

Molly Mahon
Molly is a British printmaker based in Sussex.  Her prints are inspired by nature and her travels to India.  Following in the tradition of British homewear designers her colourful designs are applied to fabrics, wallpapers and a growing number of home items.


Molly's book House of Print is available on her website now. The perfect book for all interior enthusiasts it celebrates the design process with its root in traditional Indian methods. The book also looks at Molly's inspiration from the work of Vanessa Bell to the Bloomsbury Group.



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