As the weather shifts from warm summer nights to crisp fall days, I look for ways to embrace the season (other than busting out my favorite sweaters). With the seasonal change comes the seasonal shift of fruits and vegetables. No longer are we eating things like berries and watermelon, but we are shifting out palates and our purchases to supplies like apples and pears. Although my favorite fall foods are perfect for simply eating, they also make an ideal tool for my favorite autumn craft project!
I love painting with fruit and vegetables because it’s a craft that kids of all ages can participate in (you just do the knife work). Buying fruit specifically to paint may seem a little silly, but you can always use leftovers or groceries that are about to go bad. Printer paper or brown paper bags can be used as the base, but I chose to do our prints on tea towels because they make thoughtful handmade gifts! With the holidays approaching, our family members always appreciate the gift of artwork, and tea towels are an inexpensive and functional alternative to artwork on paper. Plain tea towels are readily available at most craft stores or on Amazon. I purchased five tea towels for about six dollars. (I wasn’t kidding about them being reasonable!)
Painting with fruit and vegetables is also great because you can use whatever produce is available where you live. Actually, our friends and family that live in other areas love seeing the variety in our local goods. California always has an abundance of citrus fruits and avocados, but to us, there’s nothing like getting a gift basket full of Vermont Apple and Maple products! It’s fun to share things we are so used to, with people who see them as special/treasures. When the people we love are far away, it can really make a difference in how close their lives feel to ours.
Pro-Tip: Take this opportunity to talk to kids about seasonal produce and the benefits of eating things when they’re in season! It’s a great way to share how different foods all over the world are equally important and amazing!
For this project, I choose apples, pears, and corn because it’s what’s in season right this moment, but oranges, mangos, or cabbage would create interesting patterns too. For a vegetable painting idea, you can chop a head of cabbage (crosswise, NOT lengthwise — so it’s like you’re staring at the base of the cabbage and can see a flat circle), and it looks like a rose when used in a print!
Below are the materials and steps to make your own fruit and vegetable print masterpieces.
1. Fall fruits like apples and pears. To create unique patterns, I recommend at least two of each.
2. One to two ears of corn
4. Cutting board
5. Fabric paint (wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy, and protect that workstation!)
6. Linen tea towels
1. Cut an apple and a pear in half lengthwise, and cut the remaining ones into wedges.
2. Shuck the corn, making sure it’s completely clean. (No little fibrous stringies!)
3. Place each color of paint in a separate shallow container, like a palette or a firm paper plate.
4. Dip a fruit or vegetable piece into the paint, wiping off the excess on the side of the dish or with a paper towel.
5 Firmly press the fruit or vegetable on the tea towel. Repeat step four.
6. Let the towels dry on a flat surface or hang dry with clothespins for at least 12 hours before using. If you have pets, make sure these are out of reach while they dry!
The apples, pears, and corn will create interesting patterns on their own, but we decided to create heart balloons and a flower garden using the fruits, corn, paint and permanent marker.
Ideas to play with:
To create the easy fruit painting of balloons we used half of a pear flipped upside down so it looks like a heart. Using red paint we stamped our “hearts” in a random pattern on the towel. Once the paint dried, we used a black permanent marker to draw balloon strings and a bow.
We created the yellow “flower petals” by stamping an apple wedge in a counterclockwise pattern. We let the paint on our “flower garden” dry, then used a green permanent marker to draw stems from the flowers to the grass and added leaves on the flower stems.
To create the flower garden, we dipped a clean and dry corncob in green paint and rolled it on the bottom of the tea towel to create “grass.” Don’t over saturate the paint here — you want it to look like grass, not a green smear!
We made a “tulip” by dipping an apple wedge in orange paint and stamping it so the rounded side faced the edge of the towel. We flipped the apple wedge over, dipped it in the paint, and stamped it so it connected to the first stamp, but the rounded side faced the opposite edge of the towel. Finally, we stamped an apple wedge in between the two.
If you want to play with pattern ideas, don’t be afraid to try it out on some thick paper first!
The fruit can get slippery for small hands. To help with this, place a plastic fork in the apple and pear pieces to create a handle for stamping.