Giving a gift wrapped in a wrapper you made and even decorated yourself is very special. Nature provides an endless number of (free) objects to use as stamps for printing to make paper gift wrap. You can even give the wrapping itself as a gift.
Parents are often looking for a Thanksgiving crafts project to occupy children. This one is really fun all around, and the children can feel proud to wrap a gift using their own homemade wrapping paper. Here are two ways to make gift wrap using natural materials as stamps:
Decorating Paper With a Homemade Potato Stamp
Potatoes are great for making temporary stamps. When you slice one open, it has nice flat flesh that is easy to cut. You can cut a shape out of the potato with a knife, but itís much easier to use a small metal cookie cutter to cut out a form. Cookie cutters come in all kinds of fun and interesting shapes, including little animals. The plainer the shape, the easier it will be to recognize what the stamp looks like. As a bonus, you can make two stamps at a time-just use both halves of the potato!
You will need:
old sheet or towel
large baking potatoes
knife (children, have an adult help)
small metal cookie cutters
Cover your work area with a sheet or towel. Cut the potato in half lengthwise. Push a cookie cutter into the flesh side of one potato half.
Leaving in the cookie cutter, use the knife to scrape away the flesh of the potato around it. Carefully remove the cookie cutter. The shape will be higher than the rest of the potato.
Repeat the process to make another stamp on the other half of the potato.
Potato Stamp Gift Wrap
Cover the potato stamp you made with color from a water-based ink pad, paint, or marker. (If you use paint, pour a little into the dish and dip the stamp into it.
Carefully print all over the paper, rolling the stamp a little to get a good image. Note: If you arenít getting a clear image, you may be using too much paint. If you find that other parts of the potato are picking up color and transferring it to the paper, use the knife to trim them off.
Printing with Leaves
The idea is to put ink or paint onto the back of a leaf or flower, then press it onto paper to transfer the image. The plant material should be as flat as possible to give the cleanest image. Although some fresh plants (especially leaves) are naturally flat and can be picked and used immediately, youíll probably want to press others. Color can come from water-based ink pads, markers, or paint. An ink pad is the easiest way to color the back of a leaf. You can also use watercolors.
You will need:
old sheets or towels
leaves for printing
water-based ink pads, or watercolors
several sheets of scrap paper
paper for printing
small dish of soapy water and paintbrushes (for printing with watercolors)
Cover your work area with a sheet or towel.
To print with an ink pad, place the underside of the leaf on the ink pad. Using a piece of scrap paper, press down on the leaf until the leaf is covered with ink. Remove the scrap paper and, with the tweezers, lift the leaf off the ink pad. Place it carefully on the paper you want to print.
To print with watercolors, paint the underside of the leaf with soapy water, then paint it with watercolor. Use two colors, if desired. Be sure to cover the entire leaf. Place it carefully on the paper you want to print.
To print with markers, apply color to the underside of the leaf. Start at the top of the leaf and work downward. Be sure to cover the entire leaf, and remember that you can use more than one color if you want to. Place it carefully on the paper you want to print.
Cover the leaf with a clean piece of scrap paper. Rub firmly but carefully until the ink, paint, or marker has transferred to the paper.
Remove the scrap paper. Use the tweezers to remove the leaf. Let the ink or paint dry.
Adapted from Natureís Art Box, by Laura C. Martin (Storey Books, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Laura C. Martin. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from Natureís Art Box, by Laura C. Martin (Storey Books, 2003).