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Tips & Tricks for Hand Prints

This is one of the best money makers in your studio! Hand prints are big for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents and for the upcoming Holiday season.

You can offer hand print art a couple of ways:
Illuminated Footprints

  1. Hand prints painted in the studio by the parents
  2. Custom work - Have designs available that you and your staff do for an additional fee.

Sources for Ideas:

  • Mayco Creative Studio website
  • Ed Emberley’s Complete Funprint Drawing Book
  • Happy Hands and Feet: Art Projects for Young Children
  • Cindy Mitchell Hand-Print Animal Art
  • Carolyn Carreiro
  • Illuminated Footprints Project
  • "Handy" Christmas Wreath Project

These are just a few books available with hand print art ideas.

Rule of Thumb: typically children under 6 months are grippers. If the child is a real gripper, do the footprint. I have had success with children when sleeping and just weeks old. It depends on the child and your trickiness.
How to get started: Select a color that is medium to dark intensity. The pale pink (SC-01) or light pastel colors don’t show up as well as the darker colors since this is a one coat painting. Some of the really deep dark colors are hard to wipe off and redo if the print is smudged.

Options for the Background
Paint the background a lighter color with a darker print on top. Sponge the background. Put the hand print on the pottery first, and then sponge up to the print. Also, it looks nice leaving a bit of white around the print; it gives the print a framed effect. I don’t recommend painting the background a dark color and then putting the print on top. However, I have seen a really cute plate painted black and the foot print was a white ghost (stamped twice) and it worked well. The paint (glaze) is non-toxic, so it will not harm the child. But please try to keep the little hands out of the mouth. They will eat anything.

Tips & Tricks for Successful Printing:

  • TIP: Have a paper towel or warm wash cloth handy. As soon as you are finished with the print wipe off the foot or hand so color doesn’t go every where. Some parents use baby wipes. That’s ok for the children, but don’t use it on the pottery. There is lotion in the wipe and it may make the glaze resist.
  • TIP: Use a nice wide brush like a background, mop or fan brush. The bigger the brush the less brush strokes it takes to cover the hand or foot. Have the brushes ready to go when they select their colors. Apply a medium amount of glaze. If you apply it too heavy it looks a little smashed. If the glaze it applied too thin, then the print will not show well.
  • TRICK: The parents always want to help and generally make your job harder. Have the parent sit down with the child in their lap. Ask the parent to hold the child’s arm by the elbow. By holding it lower by the elbow, they keep the arm from flailing around but their hand is not in your way. Tell them you will do all the work, just hold the little arm. For the gripper, I tickle or lightly touch the top or back of their hand. I play and coo with the child. Also, they seem to enjoy the brush on their palms. So I use the brush to keep the hand open and quickly put it on the plate and use my hand to hold theirs down. I haven’t broken any fingers yet. Some children love this event; some children hate it with every fiber of their little being. This child will cry loud and almost hyperventilate. What do you do? If the studio is empty and the parent insists on the print, do it quick. Parents love it if you assist with the print and allow them to return with out the child to do the details and design work. I never charge them an additional fee to return.
  • TRICK: Let the parent build the trust with the child and then proceed. Sometimes the parent has to do it without your help. Make this a big, fun event. With lots of positive praise, clapping, funny faces or whatever it takes. I’ve made other tables "whoop" and clap (it was to amuse me) to keep the child entertained.
  • TRICK: With toddlers, I usually paint their hand, tell them what I’m going to do, put their hand on the pottery and place my hand on top of theirs to make sure there is good contact. Then I have the child count to three before I remove their hand. It’s more for fun and their involvement than anything. Sometimes the parents and siblings will count with me.

Overall, this is a very playful and interactive decorating effect for parents and their children to make in your studio!


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