Materials from the Postmaster General's Collection

Be an Artist!

Refer to caption
Engraved die, 1851 stamp essay

One way artists create stamps is called engraving. Engraving means to cut or etch a design into a metal plate, wood block, or some other kind of material. The etched design is then covered with ink and used to print a picture.

You can create your own engraving at home with a few simple materials. You will need:

  • a potato
  • a sharp knife (ask an adult to help you)
  • a cookie cutter (optional)
  • a pencil
  • paint (any color)
  • a paper plate or shallow dish, to hold the paint
  • a sheet of paper

1) Wash the potato and cut it in half.

2) Decide what picture you want to engrave on the potato. A simple shape or pattern such as a diamond, triangle, heart, or star works best. Using a pencil, draw your shape on the potato half. If you want, you can trace a cookie cutter to create your design on the potato.

3) Ask an adult to help you cut away the potato surrounding your design, so that the shape sticks out about 1/4 inch from the potato.

4) Choose the paint color you want and put the paint on a paper plate or in a shallow dish. Cover your potato engraving with paint and press the potato onto your blank sheet of paper. Repeat this process as many times as you want to create your picture.

Congratulations—you created an engraving!