So, before I was a parent, I’ll admit out loud, that I thought these kinds of crafts were a little…hokey? “That’s not really my style” I’d tell myself. But, I look at these tiny little humans I’ve created and am reminded daily that they will never be this small again. This thought always sends me into a tailspin of emotion and feeds the need to capture their size even more. I want tangible proof, for me and for them, that they were once this impossibly small.
So needless to say, I’m starting to see why these crafts are so popular! Why not make a Santa ornament out of my son’s hand? Every Christmas we can hang it on the very centre of the tree and laugh at how much he fussed while making it because he didn’t like getting his hands dirty! Why not turn my daughter’s into a ring bowl and keep it next to my bed for years to come? Every time I look at it, I will remember that on our very first mother’s day together, we were in the kitchen smushing her ridiculously small, dimpled baby fingers into the clay. Why not, right?
I’m glad I did this because today she’s already bigger and older and becoming more independent and it’s all happening WAY too fast! Plus, it only took about 10 minutes to make!
This is not rocket science and you can probably already guess the process but here’s what you need:
- Air-dry clay
- Parchment paper
- Rolling pin
- Sharp knife
- Something to shape it with. I ended up using a pinch bowl.
- Some sand paper
- Polycrylic (optional)
- Small paintbrush (optional)
I simply broke off a piece big enough to contain her hand and rolled it out to a little more than a centimetre in thickness onto a piece of parchment paper. I made it a little thicker because I was going to be sanding it down afterwards. I also wanted it to be sturdy so it lasts for years to come.
Once it was the thickness and size I wanted, I corralled my child and press her hand firmly into the clay. Once her hand was flat, I individually pressed each finger in to make a good impression in the clay.
Then I simply cut around her little handprint. It looked a little rough but it was easily smoothed once I removed all the excess clay. Gingerly, I lifted the hand off the parchment and smoothed all that I could with a damp finger and the side of the knife. It doesn’t have to be perfect because once it’s dry, it can be sanded to perfection. I also took the opportunity to take the heart shape from our cookie stamp to embellish the palm a little.
Next, I attempted to manipulate it into a bowl shape. Now here’s a fork in the road. We started off by shaping it around this wooden ball that you see in the photo. This method is definitely ok but I didn’t like how it was overriding her little hand impression. The palm impression was now sort of smoothed out because we had to force it quite a bit to bend it into shape, so we quickly switched to putting the hand in a tiny pinch bowl so it wasn’t disturbing anything important.
We were told to let it dry for 24-48 hours; ours took the full 48. Once it was completely dry, we sanded away any rough or sharp edges. I folded my sandpaper in half, rough sides out, to get down between the fingers. We also held our sandpaper against a flat object and gave the underside a few swipes so it had a flat surface to sit on.
When it was all said and done, I took a fine point sharpie and wrote her name, age and occasion on the underside. If you’re following this tutorial, be sure any embellishment is done and dry before you seal it if you choose to. Sealing is completely optional but I found that it was gouging and marking pretty easily just by handling it. 2 coats of polycrylic really made it more durable. I did the same thing with my son’s Santa ornament and it’s held up beautifully to quite a bit of abuse!
Voila! Now it’s a matter of finding a place somewhere it will catch your eye every day and bring you a smile!