Handprint Crafting | Clay Ornaments and Handprint Paper Wreath
‘Tis the season for crafting! The weather is cooling off, the nights are coming sooner and my brain and hands need something to do. With my son’s first Christmas right around the corner, I decided to take on some fun, keepsake crafts for myself and for gifts. Even better…I spent ZERO dollars, that’s right, NOTHING on creating these crafts! I used only things I had laying around my house (or my mom’s house) to make these classic crafts.
I am getting a head start on my 25 activities to do with a baby leading up to Christmas! Read about these fun activities here: 25 Christmas Activities to do with a Baby
Handprint Craft #1 | Clay Ornaments
First, I decided to make handprint and footprint clay ornaments. I used a very simple recipe that resulted in a smooth and easy to work with dough.
For the dough, you will need:
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup baking soda
- ¾ cup water
- Cookies cutters or stencil to trace
- Optional: food coloring (you will need to mix the color into the water before mixing it into the rest of the ingredients to make a colored dough)
- In a pot, combine all the ingredients and stir continuously over medium heat. After a few minutes, the mixture will start to thicken. Keep stirring until it looks like mashed potatoes. This took me probably 5-7 minutes.
- Put the dough into a bowl and cover loosely with a damp paper towel to keep the moisture locked in as it cools down.
- Once it is cool enough to work with, knead the dough for a couple of minutes on a silicone mat until it is silky smooth.
- Now you’re ready to roll! Roll the dough out to the desired thickness and cut, stamp, emboss, trace, or whatever you’re gonna do. If you plan to use these as ornaments, make sure to stamp a hole with a straw in the dough while it’s still wet. I ended up using a frosting tip to stamp the hole.
- You can dry the ornaments in your oven at its’ lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees F) for at least an hour if they are thin, but mine were much thicker and took closer to 3 hours. Alternately, you can air-dry the ornaments, this will just take longer. Heat is not necessary for drying the clay, just air and time!
- Leave as is, or paint!
- When you are ready, loop some ribbon through the hole and hang on your tree.
If you want to skip the make of dough process, you simply purchase a premade kit off of Amazon here: Proud Baby Deluxe Clay Hand Print & Footprint Keepsake Kit – Glaze Finish – Letter Stamps – 4 Ribbons – 2 EASELS – Dries Stone Hard – No Bake – Air Drying (Makes 2 Plaques)
My son loved the feeling of the dough as I pressed his hands into it. The more times I did it, the more he learned to curl his fingers up and try to grab the dough…resulting in holes in the ornaments. Realizing my results wouldn’t be perfect, I shrugged it off and moved forward. The feet were easier to control, so I made a few impressions of those.
Katie did this same craft with her dog a few years ago! You can make anything you want with the dough: pet paw prints, kid handprints, baby footprints, cookie-cutter shapes… you name it! This craft was super simple to make and resulted in a fun keepsake. My tree is happily sporting the new ornaments.
The next time I do this, I won’t make my ornaments as thick, mine were probably almost a half inch thick and I think that is why there was cracking. I would make them about 1/4 inch thick.
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Handprint Craft #2 | Paper Wreath
Along the handprint theme, I had been itching to make a handprint wreath. The kind where you trace your baby’s hand onto green paper, cut it out, layering and gluing the handprints onto some sort of circle cardboard to create a wreath shape.
For this project, you will need:
- Green paper
- Red paper
- Template of your baby’s hand
- Glue stick
- Cardboard or a paper plate
- 24 inches of ribbon
- Optional: Patience
- Collect your papers. You can go to the craft store and pick out your papers, but I was trying to do this with things I had laying around the house and without spending any money. So, I dug around my office for any bits of green paper, patterned or not, and also had my mom do the same. Between the two of us, we had some fun scrapbooking scraps leftover in greens and reds.
- After gathering the paper I would need, I traced my son’s hands onto a piece of paper and cut those out to use as a template for all the subsequent handprints.
- Take a piece of cardboard or a paper plate to cut out a cardboard ring. This ring will be covered up by handprints, so it doesn’t need to be pretty, but it should be sturdy. I used a dinner plate to trace a larger circle, then a bowl to trace a smaller circle inside of it. When I cut the circles out, I had a ring that was about 1.5 inches wide all the way around.
- Next, I cut squares of paper that I could stack to cut multiple hands at a time. You can trace the handprint onto the top square of paper to cut around, but I skipped that step and simply held the template tightly against the stack of squares and cut around it.
- Repeat this process until you have enough handprints to cover your circle. This part is up to you on how full you want your wreath to look. I realized as I would lay out my hands, that I liked the wreath to look very fluffy and full, so I kept cutting and cutting…I used a total of 60 hands. This is where your optional patients come in.
- As you cut more hands, loosely lay them out along your cardboard ring to see if you like the coverage and fullness you are getting. Keep cutting out paper hands until you do.
- Take your red paper and cut out small circles, about ¾ inch in diameter. These will act as your ‘berries’. I used 18 berries, but you can do whatever you like!
- Loop your ribbon around your cardboard ring BEFORE gluing the handprints down.
- Now, glue your handprints onto your ring. The easiest way to do this was to think of it like shingling your gingerbread house roof, you want to work backward so that the fingers don’t get covered up. Keep your fingers all pointing in the same direction, but angle the fingers towards the inside of the circle and the outside to create depth. Glue away!
- Once your hands are all attached, smack your berries with some more glue on as you please. I liked grouping them in sets of threes.
- Lastly, hang your new keepsake and enjoy!
This project took patience because I thought I would only need MAYBE 20 handprints at the most but ended up needing three times that to get the look I was wanting. I am super happy to have this craft hanging in my living room and love looking at my little man’s tiny hands.
In a time of more ‘stay-at-home’ orders and Christmas coming soon, crafts have been a fun mental break. The challenge of using only household items to create these handprint crafts has also been invigorating! So go look around your house, what could you make or do with what you have? And if you try one of these classic crafts, drop a picture in the comments below. We would love to see!