Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Santa Hand Print Ornament

So my first tutorial is a bit out of season, but I've pretty much already created the tutorial, just never posted it anywhere. Plus, its never too early to start preparing for the holidays! These Santa hand prints are an easy and fun way to make a great keepsake for yourself or those doting grandparents.

Santa Hand Print Ornament

I found the idea on (one of my favorite sites for finding new ideas), but the pin was a link to an online store to have someone else make the keepsake using clay and glaze. Not really ideal when the base cost for this process (they send a print kit, you mail it back, they use the impression to create a copy of the print, etc) for one hand print was twenty dollars! I really liked the idea, but not ready to pay that much for an ornament, especially when I needed about 8 to meet my gift giving demands. Plus, having made tons of pottery items in my life (that's a whole other blog), a clay ornament that is the size of an 18 month-old hand print is not a light object to hang on the tree, and very breakable.
So I discussed the idea with friends and came up with the idea to use Model Magic (Thanks Casey!) I love this stuff. Its easily molded, light weight, mess free and best of all, cheap!  It comes in many colors and can be found virtually at any craft store. And if it falls off the tree, it won't break. However, it still can be chewed by the dogs (or kids) so I still hung it up high!

So enough blabbering... lets get to the tutorial.

Project Supplies:

  • White Model Magic by Crayola (4oz package makes about 2-3 handprints)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Wax Paper
  • Straw (to make a hole for ribbon)
  • Clay knife or small blade sharp kitchen knife
  • Washable cutting board or flat work surface to roll your project out and use your knife
  • Ribbon of your choice (1/4" or 3/8" work great - 3/8" is pictured)
  • Acrylic craft paint
    • White
    • Red
    • Black
    • Skin Color (flesh color)
    • Acrylic Varnish in your choice of finish, gloss or matte
  • Paint brushes - you'll need at leas 1 fine tip brush and 1 full coverage brush
  • Extra fine point sharpie (unless you want to paint the name on the back)
You can buy Model Magic at most craft stores. I got mine at Joann because I get lots of their coupons. The small packages are about $4 and the large tub is about $22. Michael's and Joann often have 40% or 50% off coupons, which makes this project even cheaper!
If you've never seen Model Magic, here's what the small package of Crayola Model Magic looks like. My picture of supplies above shows the "big tub value size".


1. Knead a ball of Model Magic (MM) about 2 inches in diameter (or larger for larger hands) for a few minutes to soften it and work out any air bubbles. Its not as important as when working with clay, but more to get your MM pliable. Here's a pic of the size I used to make the handprints for my 18 month-old son.
2. Lay out wax paper for a work surface. You don't have to use wax paper, I just like that I can easily peel up the MM from the wax paper and it gives it a smooth, clean surface when rolling out.
3. Press MM ball onto wax paper with hand and “smush” about half way flat. Use rolling pin to roll out the MM into a flat round surface about a 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn your MM ¼ turns to keep a nice uniform shape. Don't roll too thin, as the hand print will create thin spots and easily break.
Hint: If you’re a perfectionist or just not good at using a rolling pin, you can use ¼" dowels as a guide to help you achieve uniform thickness. Lay dowels parallel to one another on each side of MM ball before starting to roll with rolling pin. Use rolling pin to roll out the ball, until the rolling pin is rolling on the dowels and not pressing on the MM any more. Rotate your MM to keep a nice round shape.
The next step involves your child. You may need another adult to hold your him/her if your child is not willing to cooperate or is too small to stand at your work surface. If you're making more than one ornament, roll out the number you will need (plus one or two extra if you have enough MM) before moving to the next step; after the first time making their hand impressions, its harder to get your child back to do it again!
 Figured this was a great opportunity to add my little man to the blog. Keeping with the holiday theme, here's Gavyn wearing his Rudolph nose.

4. Press your child’s hand into the center of the rolled MM. You need to press pretty firmly to get a good impression. Press about half way through the ¼ inch thickness for a good look that won’t result in thin spots. When you pull the hand up, the MM may stick to the hand. MM is pretty forgiving, so just gently pull it away from the hand and lay back on your surface. If you completely mess this step up, not to worry, just roll the MM back into a ball and start over. That's why MM is so great!
Hint: For all kids, press on each finger individually and on top of the hand firmly to get a uniform print. If you have a small child, use another adult to hold him/her and have then secure all other limbs. You control the arm/hand used to make the impression. Don’t worry, most little ones will cry and scream, but its worth it in the end!

5. Make a hole just under the bottom of the palm of the hand print using the straw (not at the fingers end). Push the end of the straw through the entire thickness, turn a bit and pull up. Don't forget this step or you won't have a way to hang your ornament!

6. Using a clay knife or a sharp kitchen knife (use a cutting board under surface if needed), cut around hand print leaving about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch edge from hand print. You may want to leave a bit more around the hole you made as this is where the ornament will hang from and you don’t want this to be a weak spot. The overall cut shape isn't very important.  Pull away the scraps and save them for another project. You can smooth the edges where you cut by gently rubbing your finger on the surface. Like I mentioned before, MM is pretty forgiving, so you can gently pick up your print and work with it and it should hold its form.
Hint: I hear you can use a small amount of water on your finger tip to help smooth out edges that are not pleasing to the eye. I have never tried it, as I always just use a bit of extra paint over the areas I don’t like.
This photo shows a print drying on a rack. The fingers of the hand print aren't as deep as I like it, but it will still turn out ok.

7. Once you have the edges the way you want them, its time for the hardest part… let it dry. You will need to let your piece dry for at least 24 hours, if not longer. Depending on the humidity of your house, it may take up to 2 to 3 days to dry completely. If you have a cooling rack for cookies, this is a great way to allow air to reach all sides of your piece and will dry a bit faster. The dry product will still feel a bit spongy and bendable but should not conform to changes you try to make to it.

8. Once dry, its time to paint! I used traditional Santa colors, but you can do whatever you like.
  1. First paint the entire piece with a thin coat of white, front and back. You can skip this step, but I like to cover up any blemishes or fuzz that may have worked its way into the MM. Let paint dry completely between coats so colors don’t mix.
    Hint: Don’t paint too thick over the hand print or you’ll cover up the fine details of the print.
  2. Now to paint the Santa. You can use a very fine point sharpie or pen if you don’t press too hard, to outline your areas of the hat, face and beard. Use the hand print impression and the finished picture as a guide to painting your Santa. I started with the hat and worked my way down. Work with thin coats of paint, as they will dry faster and not show streak marks. You will need to apply at least 3 coats of the red and skin color to get a good finish.
  3. On the back, paint or write with extra fine sharpie your child’s name and the date or year.
  4. Apply a varnish coat. This is optional, but I think it gives a nice finished look as well as protects your ornament.

9. Once the paint is completely dry, string a length of ribbon through the hole and tie the ends in a knot and hang it on your tree!

So the best thing about this project for me was the price. I ended up making one for each set of grandparents, aunts/uncles, our day care provider and even a great aunt. I had enough materials that I invited a friend over and she made some for her family too. We ended up making 15 ornaments.

Using a coupon for Joann Fabrics to get the big tub of Model Magic, I purchased all my supplies for about $20. I already had the rolling pin, wax paper, straw, knife, paint brushes and sharpie. As you can see in my supplies photo, I have purchased larger bottles of some of the paint, but for my cost breakdown, I estimated cost based on purchasing the small bottles.
So here's the breakdown: (estimates)
  • Model Magic (2 pound tub) - $11 (using a 50% off coupon)
  • Paint - about a $1/color
  • Acrylic varnish - $2
  • Ribbon - $1
  • Fine paint brush - $3 (I already had one, but not everyone does, so I added the cost of one)
I made 15 ornaments for $21, so if my math proves worthy, that is $1.40 per ornament!  That beats the $20 per ornament price from that online store plus you get the satisfaction of telling your friends and family, "I made that!"

1 comment:

  1. Super cute!!! I got to see this for reals last Christmas. ;) Awesome idea for a gift because now every year when I pull out my ornament I can see a snapshot in time of my little buddy.