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Get artistic with stamps made of fruits, veggies

I was chopping vegetables for dinner recently when my 14-year-old daughter, Grace, disappeared with the unusable end of the bok choy. She returned five minutes later with paper, a stamping ink pad and the pilfered vegetable.

“Look, Mom,” she said, and held up a stunner: The bok choy head, trash to me, had stamped a beautiful blooming rose onto the paper.

I discovered what some crafters have long known – the beauties of stamping with food. Part of the pleasure derives from the experimentation, and part from the element of surprise when an ordinary vegetable imparts a beautiful image.

Kristen Sutcliffe of Oberlin, Ohio, came to love stamping while teaching preschool in Japan, where it’s popular, she says.

Her favorite food tool? Okra.

“It’s so pretty,” Sutcliffe says. “It looks like a little flower.”

Heads of bok choy and celery stamp pretty roses. Pull off a stalk of either to stamp U shapes. Peppers, sliced in half and deseeded, stamp wavy rounds for making flowers.

Garlic is the favored stamp of Sarah Raven, program director for a group with the acronym GARLIC (Green Art Recreating Life in Communities) that encourages low-income residents of New Haven, Conn., to make art from recycled items. Garlic, too, can create a delicate flower image.

The discovery was part of the thrill, Raven says.

“I tried to ink the entire garlic and that didn’t work,” she says. Then she pulled a single clove out of the bulb and realized it looked like a finger and a flower petal.

She also has tried carved potatoes and star fruit. The latter is a little unwieldy and stinky, she says.

Terri Ouellette of Phoenix has a tip for that: Cut and air-dry citrus and other watery fruits and vegetables, sometimes overnight, before working with them, she says.

What works, she says: apples, oranges and pears. What doesn’t: grapes, broccoli and lettuce.

Besides celery, Ouellette likes using mushrooms, cauliflower and potatoes.

As with other stamping, use a stamp pad or acrylic paint for stamping on paper. Use fabric-specific acrylic paint for printing on textiles.

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