Handprints and Footprints How-To

Handprints and Footprints How-To

Handprint and footprint pieces are so special. They capture a moment in time, before those tiny fingers and toes grow up into teenagers. 

Our paint is non-toxic and totally water soluble, which means it cleans up just with water, you won't even need soap. It's called "underglaze", and it's the ONLY kind of paint you should use on a ceramic item that is going to be fired in a kiln. Using anything like Sharpies or other types of pens can lead to the glaze not adhering to the item, and in the case of different paints used, it'll mean we won't fire your piece in our kiln.
If you're painting a "functional" item like a mug, bowl or plate, you'll want to paint a background on your piece. The extra layers of paint make the item more resilient to the heavy use and abuse that functional items receive with hot and cold, dishwashers and microwave use.
\If you have an item like a plaque or planter you don't need to paint the background. The clear glaze we put on all the pieces will shine everything up and seal it glaze.

To start off, wash those hands!
Oils from food or hand cream can cause the paint to repel during firing. 

Then, you'll want to decide if it will be best for you to start with just the plain bisque (white) background, or if you can get away with doing your base coats. 
Remember that light colours won't cover dark colours, so you'll want to pick nice contrasting colours. A light coloured background, and a dark colour for the handprint/footprint.
For an older child who is less likely to move and close their hand, you can start with a base coat, if you'd like. 
Using your lighter colour, paint on 3 coats of paint, using a hair dryer to dry in between and speed up the drying process. (You can wait to do the inside last)
Make sure it's nice and dry, because if the paint is still wet, it could lift off a bit when you're doing the handprint. 
For a younger child (newborn-2 years usually), I would leave the background white, and once you have a good print, paint your background colour around the print. (Tip: Use a small brush to get in all the nooks and crannies, and a larger brush to hide your brush strokes in the larger areas)
If you make a mistake, or have a smudged print, don't worry! Since this paint is water soluble, you can simply wipe off any failed attempts with a damp (not wet) sponge.
If your little person isn't co-operating, Footprints are extremely successful for the under one year's. It might tickle, but you'll have a much easier time with it. 
I would recommend having two people to do the print, if possible. One to hold baby, one to hold hand and paintbrush. It can be possible on your own, but you might want to start with the plain background, as it might take you a few tries. Feel free to practice on a piece of paper first, if you want!
  • Paint a good layer of your chosen handprint colour onto the hand. Don't wait too long or it could start to dry around the edges of the hand

  • Press firmly onto the ceramic item. Holding the palm down with yours, press all those tiny fingers down individually to make sure you have good contact.

  • Lift off in one movement to prevent smearing. Ta da! Hopefully you've gotten an amazing print that will darken during firing, exposing all the little lines in the little person's handprint.

  • Dry well before painting any more details around.


Hopefully these tips can help you create a wonderful memory.

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