This framed tiny handprint keepsake project has been occupying all the space on my mantle for over a week. The tracing and cutting of the handprint is the easy part. What comes after that is 72 hours of waiting for the handprint to dry. And that is if your handprint doesn’t break the first time (which mine did). On top of little handprints adorning my mantle I have been converting “shadow boxes” into frames for this tiny handprint keepsake. Sanding and painting the frames has taken some time too. So before you embark on this project be prepared to have some patience and make a few extra handprints in case one breaks.
Making a framed tiny handprint keepsake is simple!
Using newspaper for a work surface, I started with a handful of air dry clay and rolled it into a ball about the size of a tennis ball. The clay was easy to flatten with my hands and I made it about 1/2 inch thick. Next, I enlisted my kid for his handprint. I have never worked with air dry clay before so I thought the hand print would be as easy as a salt dough handprint, it was not. There was no print. So to make the handprint I used a pencil to outline the handprint on the clay.
I pulled a paperclip straight and used it to cut out the handprint. A paperclip was the best thing I could find and it ended up being a pretty good tool. When I went around the fingertips I used the paper clip in a saw like motion instead of a dragging motion and that kept the tips of the handprint intact. Once I had the handprint cut out, I used a paint brush dipped in water to smoothe out the rough spots and touch the handprint up. I went across the top with the wet paint brush to make the surface smooth.
Allow 72 hours for the clay to dry completely, paint and seal.
The air dry clay takes 24 hours to dry to the touch; 72 hours to dry completely. When the handprint was completely dry I used a dry paintbrush to smooth the handprint of bumps and irregularities. Once the handprint is completely dry it can be painted. Give the handprint a day to dry after painting and then seal your tiny handprint keepsake. I used DecoArt Triple Thick to seal the handprint. I made a mixture of one part water to three parts sealer. The handprints are so tiny I didn’t need a lot. I did 3 capfuls triple thick and a capful of water. I sealed the back first, let it dry, and did the back again. Then the same thing for the front (seal, dry, seal again).
I found my shadow box frames at TJ Maxx for $3 each.
The cheapest shadow frames I could find had writing on them with glitter. Since the side with writing is going to be the back they worked. I sanded the frames down and painted them with black paint. While waiting for the handprints to dry I put a few coats of paint on the frames. Once dry I attached a picture hanging kit to each of the frames. I used a paint pen to write my kid’s initials and the year on the frame. Then I used gorilla glue to glue the handprint to the frame.
There are a lot of fun possibilities with these handprints and sealed correctly the handprints will last through the years. One idea would be to add a hand every year for the first five years to a long frame. Or do a handprint for each member of the family. I ended up doing a left hand and a right hand for my framed tiny handprint keepsake. What are your ideas?