Dec 21

Potato Nengajo: Happy Moo Year!

in Fuji Craft

Did your mom ever tell you not to play with your food? Well, here’s your chance to do exactly what she told you not to do! This is also a great chance for you kids to play with their food as well. I know many of you are gearing up for Christmas later this week, but in Japan they are gearing up for New Years. Last year I explained that in Japan, the Japanese people send New Year’s Day postcards (年賀状, nengajō), instead of Christmas cards. Many of these have the Chinese zodiac sign of the New Year as their design. 2009 is the year of the ox.

I made some fun nengajō the other day by doing some potato prints with some heavy watercolor paper, inexpensive acrylic paint, markers, and a couple of potatoes.
My designs were simple and I added in almost all of the detail with markers. You can make your stamped designs much more sophisticated if you like–let your imagination run wild! Here’s what you’ll need:

heavy cardstock or watercolor paper, cut down to desired card size
acrylic paint (or poster paint)
foam brushes
paper plates

1. Slice a potato in half: if you want a large surface area, slice it lengthwise. If you want less, slice it the other way!

2. Trim the cut end of the potato to the desired shape. For mine I used 2 shapes–one using the potato just cut in half, and the other cut down into a funky rectangle. You can trim yours into any shape you like. You can also use cookie cutters to help you get the job done.

For smaller pieces of potato that are harder to get a grip on, use a fork to spear the non-stamping side of the potato–instant handle! (I learned that fabulous tip from the fabulous ladies that make everything over at Potato Playground when they did a segment on Martha Stewart!)
3. Once you have your desired shape, blot away any moisture with a paper towel.
4. Squeeze out a bit of paint onto a paper plate. Using a foam brush, brush a thin layer of paint onto your potato stamp (the amount of paint you use will determine the look you get, so you may want to play around with it a bit).
5. Stamp the shape onto your card, pressing down firmly for five seconds.

6. Continue stamping until you have all of the printed shapes you want on your card, then let dry (takes about 30 minutes).
7. Add any details you like with markers.

** When you read this I’ll likely already be in the car with the Fuji family driving up to Utah to visit family for the holidays. See you there!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ingrid December 21, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Those came out adorable! What a neat idea!


Bob December 21, 2008 at 2:56 pm

I remember doing something like that as a craft in… kindergarten? 1st grade? I don’t know, when I was a kid. It was fun and I had totally forgotten about it. Thanks for the memories. :)


Stitchify December 21, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Oh my, tooo cute!


The Begleys December 21, 2008 at 6:37 pm

You’re an artist too? What can’t you do!? Seriously!

Awesome artwork


[email protected] December 21, 2008 at 7:00 pm

I love sending and receiving New Year’s cards and these are SO cute! I love them! I’ll be linking.


K and S December 21, 2008 at 10:59 pm

what a great idea! Happy Holidays!


Lulu December 22, 2008 at 5:48 am

So cute!!! I love them- such a great idea! Would love to see what you do with tiger next year ;-)

I wrote about nengajyo the other day…and my ALMOST mistake last year!


Jen December 22, 2008 at 9:53 am

Neat! You are a great artist!


The Food Librarian December 22, 2008 at 9:58 am

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! These cards look so wonderful! What a treat for your friends! Happy holidays to you and your family.


Melanie Gray Augustin December 22, 2008 at 10:48 pm

They look fabulous! What a great idea, and it even brings in your foodie element into cards. Have a great Christmas with your family!


Hannah December 23, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Wow, this is so creative! I would have never dreamed of using a potato as a stamp, but it looks great (and so cute)!


Misha December 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Caleb would have a blast if I did this with him. He just might end up liking potatoes after this activity… :-)


Fuji Mama December 24, 2008 at 8:26 am

Bob–It’s never too late to be a kid again! :-)

Rachel–THANK YOU for the link!!!

Thanks everyone!


dianeinjapan January 5, 2009 at 9:48 pm

How cute are these?! Nice job!


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