Hand and foot print art is as unique to your child as fingerprints. From simple images to complex compositions, the possibilities for children of all ages are boundless and the end result is priceless. So get out your paints, your brushes, your imaginations, and start creating! Oh, and expect some giggles, not just because it tickles when you apply the paint, but because it's so much fun!
Proper supplies are important for your fingerpainting to work well. Inkpads are OK but are notoriously difficult to wash from little hands. Tempera paint, non-toxic of course, is the best choice.
Using a brush, apply a light coating of the paint to the hand or foot, and be prepared to make the imprint onto the paper as quickly as possible. If you use too much paint, you will get gloppy results which will eliminate the neat lifelines and fingerprints that make this art so pretty.
If you plan to use two hands, rubbing them together with the paint works very well. Sometimes making the first print on a scrap piece of paper and then making a second print, without reapplying the paint, will have the details that make this art so unique. You will also get good results by placing the painted body part straight down without shifting it on the paper. (We can pause for a moment while all the mothers of toddlers laugh, but remember that doing the best you can is always good enough in art like this.) An option that works well for many children is rolling the hand by setting the heel down, keeping it in place, and then rocking the hand forward. Remember not to get uptight about smudges and wiggly children; this is not about perfection, it's about fun.
Tip: Have a wet paper towel ready so you can wipe hands as soon as you are done with a color and then head straight for the sink for some soap and water time when the printing part of the project is finished. A pan of warm soapy water for projects involving feet also works well.
A Little Background
Go beyond white paper and see where that leads you. In general, heavier stock paper like construction paper works best. In our angel project, we painted our hands white and made the imprints on light-blue paper for a very special look. For our wreath project, we used a forest green paint on lighter green paper. Foam sheets, available at your local craft store, are great fun to work with and perfect for cutting out shapes.
Cut It Out!
Don't be afraid to go three-dimensional. Cut out the prints to layer or for a collage. The way you cut can help you make shapes that fit your subject a little better. Cut the shape of the fingers out very closely, and the rays of the sun or the petals of your flowers will be more definite. Cut loosely around the shape of the hand and your butterfly wings are a little bit truer to form.
Don't be afraid to enhance and embellish. Use glitter, add some craft eyes, and bring out the markers and crayons. There is no limit to what you can do. We've used ribbons, special bows, yarn, buttons, feathers; all were fun and added that extra little touch. Like any art project, don't be afraid—be adventurous!