How To Hand Stamp A Wall For A Stenciled Look With A Potato

I did it. I finally completed Clara’s closet stamping project (you know, the one I started here)! And yes, if you couldn’t tell from the title, I made a potato stamp. It was actually really fun. Don’t roll your eyes. It was. And it was free. In fact this entire project cost me 99 cents since I used one tube of Folk Art Paint in Champagne (a soft and pretty metallic gold color) and two potatoes that we already had (never thought I’d list potatoes as existing DIY materials). As for landing on a pattern, last week I shared how my first idea, a $1 rubber stamper from Michael’s, didn’t work (the rubber stamp pattern was too fine, so it didn’t read at all in person (although in the photo it wasn’t as hard to see):

And then I moved on to a few freehand painted attempts like imperfect horizontal lines, x’s (aka: kisses), and random little rows of dots made by squishing a small craft paintbrush against the wall:


As for my potato stamps, I just tried a few shapes that I did my best to freehand (from a weird little quatrefoil-ish thing to a star and a bee-hive-ish hexagon). As for the bottom right stamp, I saw this on Pinterest (originally from here), and decided to give it a try. I just carved a circle first (using the top of a salad dressing bottle as a guide) and then made little pizza-slice slivers around it to leave the asterisk-like shape.

I also saw this celery stencil idea on Pinterest (originally from here) and gave that the ol’ college try too:

Then it was time to test all of my “stampers” out on paper with the Folk Art metallic paint (in champagne) just to see how they did:


Out of all the potential patterns, the little starburst circle one was our favorite. So off to the closet I went, just to see how it would look on the wall.

I learned that it worked a lot better if I brushed the paint onto the potato with a small craft store brush (so I could remove the excess and prevent globs) as opposed to stamping it into my plate of paint (like you would with a rubber stamper).

Here’s a good shot of how the paint looks really metallic from certain angles. So soft and pretty.

After about an hour I had done the wall with the door on it and about a fourth of the adjoining wall to the left as you face it. Then I had to pause for a Clara nap and the rest of the day got away from me. But she did love the part that I had done once she woke up from her nap:

No worries, I thought. I’ll just finish it tomorrow. But in the morning I realized something that sent me into a mild to moderate potato panic. My stamp had sort of withered overnight. Not too crazy like a raisin or anything, but the whole potato was substantially less firm than it was the day before. More like a sponge than a solid stamp. But I decided to give it a try just to see how it worked out (while holding my breath and crossing my fingers/toes/eyes). My method had to change slightly (since the edges weren’t as flat as they once were, I had to gently rock my wrist back and forth and up and down as I pressed it down to ensure that all of the starburst tips got applied to the wall). But miracle of all miracles it still worked.

So onward I pressed. Literally. I must have pressed that potato into the wall 500 times. But it was surprisingly soothing. I know you’re rolling your eyes again, but there are some projects that are extremely tedious that I’m not a fan of (heck, painting the closet was totally boring) but for some reason I got into a nice little rhythm with my potato and my paint brush so it was kind of nice. Brush paint on, press while gently rocking wrist back and forth, move over a few inches, repeat. Oh and as for my spacing, I just eyed everything, but each stamp is about 5″ away from the next one and I just applied staggered horizontal rows so if you connected the dots it would make a ton of zig-zag chevrons.

I decided as I was stamping to the oldies (yes, I had Pandora on) that it was as good a time as any to think back about the last almost-15 months with the bean. So I sat/crouched/stood in there stamping my heart out and thinking about hilarious blowouts and first words and lost socks and restaurant meltdowns and all the other good/bad/ugly/amazing parenting stuff that has come been flung our way since Clara joined the family. Not a bad way to spend two hours.

And guess what? Once it was dry and I granted Clara some closet clearance, she was so excited! She literally wanted to point to every last shiny stamp that was in there and squeal “stah!” (her version of star).

The total time spent on the project (including various rubber stamper/potato/celery experiments and two installments of stamping) came to around three and a half hours. So worth it for the magical little subtly metallic reading nook we’re on our way to creating.

Next, we added the white shelving systems back in (that we removed before painting):

And finally I loaded in all of her clothes, toys, and blankets. I even tossed down a fluffy faux sheepskin rug from Ikea and some pillows that we already had while adding some of her favorite board books to the little Clara-level corner shelves:

I still want to DIY a beanbag (I’ve pinned lots of tutorials and ideas) but it’s pretty darn sweet in there already. And Clara had some fun taking it for a test ride. I think she likes loves it.

As for John’s impression, this convo ensued:

Me: It’s cool, huh? What do you think?

John: Yeah, it’s really Sweet Sixteen in there.

Me: What does that mean? It’s cheesy? Over the top?

John: No you know… (long pause)… expensive. Like the Louis Vuitton cakes they get. It’s really cool.

Sherry: Huh? (equally long pause) This might be our strangest conversation to date.

I’m so glad we all love it (even if some of us don’t really know how to put that love into words coughJohncough). And even my cheap-o work-with-what-you-have self is kind of shocked at the difference that 99 cents and 3.5 hours made in there (well, more like 5 hours if you count the closet-painting phase too).

Ok, so who’s surprised that I got all old school and made a potato stamp? I totally had flash backs of middle school while doing it. Who out there has stamped a wall instead of just painting or stenciling it? I must say there’s a surprising freedom to it since you don’t have to carefully place the stencil and make sure that there’s no paint on the back of it and that nothing gets smeared or anything. You just eye it and go. And it kind of looks like handmade wallpaper (imperfect, but kind of perfect because of that). This might be one of my favorite solo projects that I’ve done in the new house. Just because it’s from me to the bean with love. And quite possibly because it inexplicably reminds John of an expensive Louis Vuitton cake. Sometimes it’s the little things…


  1. says

    Great job Sherry!

    I went the potato stamp route a few years back for our annual Halloween party invitation. I hand carved a pumpkin, and like you, with a craft store brush applied a burnt orange paint. We were thrilled with the results, and it’s “one of a kind” art too! :-)

  2. says

    What a great idea…and I love the stamp you chose. Isn’t it fun to see how kids react to things like that! My husband and I had a conversation the other day about how you should paint “odd” spaces, the closet being one of them!

  3. jess says

    I love it! Such a fun space for Clara. The potato stamp takes me back to the old days too… so beautiful and such a great idea!

  4. says

    I’m totally taking my own suggestion and will be using a potato stamp on our nursery walls. I can’t believe how beautiful it turned out!

  5. says

    What a creative and eco-friendly idea. I’e often been tempted to do something similar. Did you find the “stamp” getting mushy or losing it’s shape over time?

    • says

      Other than getting a bit less firm over night, it was all good. I would definitely recommend trying to do it all in one sitting after carving the stamp if you can!


  6. Jess says

    i love it, sherry! so fun and unexpected! :) i have a question non-decor related. what type of shoes do you like to get for clara? do you think they need to be quality, or do you think walmart/target shoes are ok?! i like the ones she has on! my daughter is about to start walking, so i was just wondering.

    • says

      We actually have all hand-me-down shoes (most of them from Stride Right if that helps) since she has so many 2 year old cousins who pass things down.


    • Alyssa says

      Jess, not that you asked for anyone else’s opinion but Sherry’s, but I wanted to comment:) I would HIGHLY reccomend Stride Right for shoes for your little one. I don’t work there or anything, but I feel very stronly about their quality and customer service! The employees (here in WI at both the outlet and the store in the mall) are very knowledgeable about the shoes and what is best for any age. It’s not just about finding the rght size, as they will tell you, the longer you can keep your little one in soft(er) soled shoes, the better. This is because their muscles are still growing and developing and you don’t want something confining for their feet. I will admit that the price tags were a bit hard to swallow at first, but then I realized the importance in making sure my son’s feet were comfortable since he couldn’t tell me that. And sometimes they have sales and BOGO 1/2 off sales, so that helps too. Ok, that’s my soapbox for the day:)

    • Jessica M. says

      I have to agree-not that you asked but we recently got our 12 month old fitted for Stride Rite shoes & love them! The lady mentioned keeping socks on all times & make sure they get re-measured every so often (can’t remember how long) to ensure the shoes fit properly. I personally haven’t been a fan of the cheap-o shoes because I don’t want her precious feet to get messed up but that’s just me. Also, we keep her barefoot when in the house so she can use her monkey toes to grip the floor better than in shoes.

    • Jess says

      awesome! thanks everyone for the great tips! i love this web site :) bringing people together!

  7. Kim S says

    Wow, I’ve got closet envy! Not ONE of the closets in our house is painted anything but the original builder beige, and our house is 17 years old!

  8. says

    It looks so beautiful and I love that you thought about Clara all the way through doing it. Some slightly repetitive things do just put you in just the right medititve mood to have a good old ponder about something.

    Your pictures of Clara have been particularly stunning lately, has anything changed in the way you take them? (I mean, she’s as cute as ever but the pictures seem more pro).

    • says

      Ooh we got a new lens that we sometimes use for Clara now! It’s the Nikon D3000 version of the Nifty Fifty (it’s a 50 millimeter lens made for our version of camera since the normal Nifty Fifty doesn’t work with D3000s).


  9. says

    It turned out so purdy! I audibly gasped when you said the potato kind of withered overnight. I’m so dramatic sometimes. Most times. ;o) Before school starts this year we are surprising our two wee ones with Extreme Bedroom Makeovers and sending them away to their Aunt and Uncles for a weekend. I was thinking of doing beanbag chairs, but they are getting kinda pricey I’m realizing. Still trying to figure out a way to make em on the cheap though. Any tips?

    My best, Lynn

    • says

      Hmm, I’ve seen some at places like HomeGoods or Target for around $15 and you might just be able to use them or use them for filler and use the fabric covering as a template to sew your own cover! I also pinned a bunch of tutorials on Pinterest. Hope it helps!


  10. DebInNYC says

    It came out a lot better than I thought it would. You lost me with the xxx pattern but this, I LOVE. It is a great little spot for the bean!

  11. says

    Soooo cute! Can’t wait to see your bean bag making tutorial. One suggestion would be a couple of hooks because that will also make a great dress-up closet. I have a low bar in the closet for my daughter’s dress-up dresses which she loves. But hanging them on hooks would be even easier. Believe it or not, you are probably less than 6 months from the beginning of the dress-up phase!!

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