Kids grow up really fast. One day they are so small, sweet, and helpless and the next thing you know, they are on a plane off to college to pursue their dreams.
That’s why many parents have this tradition of making their kid’s handprints as keepsakes. To have a truly memorable piece of them from when they were little.
Have you been secretly admiring cute handprints but never knew how to do it yourself? Do you wish to craft one for or with your little prince or princess? You’ve come to the right place.
What’s the best clay for handprints? Air-dry clays make the best clay for handprints. They are self-drying and do not need any special conditioning or treatment in an oven. Polymer and modeling clays are also good choices. Look for high-quality, non-toxic clays that are made to be ready-to-use and which will last.
If you are specifically looking for product recommendations, you can scroll to the middle section of the article. There, we have reviewed top rated handprint clay and kits.
You will also get more helpful pointers for choosing the best clay for handprints. We’ll even guide you on how to make a handprint in a few easy steps. Enjoy!
Clay Handprints – Why They’re Awesome
Wondering what we mean by handprint?
A handprint is an imprint of the hand usually indented on a slab of a soft malleable material such as clay. It later hardens creating a unique permanent impression kept as a keepsake. When crafted with the best clay for handprints, they can last for decades.
Here are a few awesome reasons to craft handprints at home:
- It is a unique and sentimental way of keeping your baby’s memory.
- They make distinct, highly customizable ornaments to hang beautifully anywhere.
- Handprints are a thoughtful gift idea for grandparents and godparents.
- Making handprints creates a perfect parent-child bonding time. Just have fun while at it.
- It is a great way to introduce preschoolers to clay crafts and sparking their interest in it.
- Having a local ceramic store do a handprint can set you back a few dollars. Besides, it feels more personal and extra special when you do it yourself, don’t you think?
DIY Handprints: How to Choose Your Clay
We’ll start by pointing out that nearly all clays can make great handprints. However, not all of them are suitable for home crafting, learners, or use by kids.
For beginners, especially those not used to crafting and DIY activites, it may be best to avoid clays that need to be baked or cured in the oven. If you bake your handprints improperly, you may end up scorching them.
Nonetheless, if you are not a first-timer baking with clay, polymer clay would do fine. Just keep a close eye on the kids if working with them.
Homemade clays that require mixing or cooking are a tricky choice too. Just one slight mistake and they are either rock hard or a runny mess which can turn out stressful and ruin all the fun.
For beginners, though, we recommend air-dry clays, which are truly hassle-free and great for the busy parent, teacher, babysitter – anyone who doesn’t have the time or space to fuss with oven-drying.
For a hassle-free time, go for premade brands that are ready to use. No need for measuring and mixing parts.
Since children are likely to be involved in the crafts, it is advisable to check that your clay is baby-safe and/or nontoxic. Sufficient elasticity to the clay is necessary, too, to avoid applying too much pressure on those tiny delicate hands.
You are making something that one can look at 20 years later and have their eyes well up (tears of joy of course). It would be such a shame if it cracks, chips, or breaks easily. Therefore, durability is another critical factor to consider.
Top 3 Clay + Kits For Handprints
We’ve taken some of the guesswork out for you and found our favorite clays/clay kits out there which will be perfect for your prints:
|1.||Baby Ornament Keepsake Kit||Handprint ornament kit|
|2.||Crayola Model Magic||Air-dry, child-safe modeling clay|
|3.||Sculpey Original Polymer Clay||Multi-use polymer sculpting clay|
Before we move on to how to make your prints, let’s take a closer look at each clay/clay kit.
1. Little Hippo’s Baby Ornament Keepsake Kit
Looking for an all-inclusive kit? Little Hippo has it all. There’s everything you’ll need to make a perfect baby handprint and they come in twos for double the joy.
We particularly loved that there are 2 packs of real clay to cover both the hand and those tiny toes, or one print each for two children.
You get an option to hang your ornaments or let them stand on the easels. Bundled in the kit are 2 mold rings, 4 cute ribbons, paint, paintbrushes, a hole punching tool, and stencil letters.
The clay is pliable enough (not marshmallow-soft) after kneading and dries solid after a couple of days. It’s super easy to use if you knead thoroughly and follow the manufacturer’s emailed instructions and tips.
For a kit with over 75% 5-star reviews from 1,000+ buyers, it is definitely worth a spot in the best clay for handprints. So get one now if you don’t wait for your bundle of joy to outgrow it.
2. Crayola Model Magic
We were torn between this and the Crayola air-dry clay, but the malleability in the model magic has won many hearts. It is incredibly soft and super easy to work with making it the best clay for handprints done by kids.
That’s not to mean adults cannot use it. It is ideal for kids of ages 3+, teens, and adults who still enjoy doing handprints.
There are 4 packs in each tub. So whether you are blessed with a handful of children, making many ornaments in a kid’s class or party, or want to send them out to the whole family, there’s enough clay to go around.
Another loveable thing about this handprint clay is that it has a smooth finish and dries really light without cracking which is perfect for ornament handprints.
It paints well too, though that may not be necessary because it comes in color options as well as white or pastel. So you can skip the painting and still have delightful color choices.
Over 80% of users are super happy with it which only shows its results are truly impressive. The resealable tub is airtight so any unused clay remains soft for future projects. Plus, this awesome clay is made for kids, so any leftovers can go straight to their craft corner!
3. Sculpey Original Polymer Clay
Pressed for time? No patience to wait for days? Then Sculpey is your go-to handprint clay. It is an oven-bake clay so kids should be under an adult’s watch curing it.
It’s fairly pliable and gets even better the more you knead.
Unlike air dry clay which may harden before you are completely done with your handprint (you know how it is with a fussy child), Sculpey doesn’t. So you have a chance to perfect your craft.
Dry time only takes minutes in an oven with the right temperature as directed by the manufacturer (so you don’t have to worry about it) which makes it great for quick projects. It comes in a nice white which is popular with those who desire that porcelain look. Still, it takes paint nicely.
Whether you want to do your own handprints or never got a chance to do a keepsake handprint for your child whose hands are now oversized for kits, Sculpey will do. There’s so much of it too for the price which is great value for your money.
With any of these best clay for handprints on your hands and our expert guidance, you are ready to confidently pull off a successful handprint keepsake ornament.
Now get crafting!
DIY Handprint Guide: Step-By-Step
If you’re not a crafter or new to the DIY scene, we’ll help you get started with your first handprint! The process is quite simple, so you’re in for an easy-breezy, fun afternoon project with your little loved one.
If you’re ready to make your handprints at home, here are the supplies you’ll need:
- Good quality handprint clay
- Wax paper
- Craft knife
- Rolling pin
- Sealer (like mod podge or varnish)
- Permanent marker pen or stencils
- Acrylic paint (optional)
- Embellishments (optional)
You can also opt for a kit, especially if you intend to make a baby handprint. They come with all the basic things you need, plus some other bells and whistles.
How To Make Your Handprint
Making handprints is a simple process. Here are some basic steps for you to follow:
1. Prepare your surface and the clay: Line your working surface with the wax paper to prevent any itsy bitsy crumbs or fuzz from sticking on the clay. Unwrap the packaging and take a good chunk of the clay. Place it on the wax paper and start kneading for 2-3 minutes or until its pliability is satisfactory.
2. Shape the clay: Roll the clay into a ball and press it down into a slab using your hand or the side of a mug. If using a kit, do this step inside the provided ring or picture frame.
Make sure the slab is large enough for the hand you intend to imprint. For kit users, ensure the clay touches the entire perimeter of the ring or frame without leaving gaps. Using a rolling pin, smooth it out such that the top surface evens out and appears smooth.
3. Make the print: Take your child’s clean and dry hand and press it down gently but firmly, about a quarter-inch deep. Press down starting with the heel of the hand, then the back of the palm, and lastly the fingers one at a time.
4. Add details: Let little one’s hand go. Then use a craft knife to cut the edge of the imprint into the desired shape, such as a heart, square, or circle (you can use a tile, bowl, or wide-brimmed cup to help you). If using a kit ring, remove the slab at this point by carefully pushing it around the edges.
To be able to hang the handprint as an ornament, make a hole near the top of the clay using a nail, a drinking straw, or the needle-like end of the detail tool found in the kit. If you plan to etch or stamp the child’s details, this is the time to do it.
5. Let it dry: Leave your handprint to air dry in an open place with moderate temperature for at least 24 hours. You can turn it over halfway through the drying time to ensure even drying.
6. Add any finishing touches: When thoroughly dry, use a permanent marker to handwrite the name and date, (if you didn’t inscribe them into the clay already). You can now glam up your handprint, by painting it or adding glitter then allow it to dry.
7. Seal the print: Seal with mod podge, watered down PVA glue or varnish to enhance stability and life. Voila!
How Long Will a Handprint Take to Dry?
It usually takes 24-48 hours (or as recommended by the manufacturer) for clay handprints to dry, depending on the thickness and environment. If it still feels soft, you can extend the wait by a few more days. Damp conditions may increase the drying time.
How Do You Keep a Baby Still to Get a Perfect Impression?
A squirmy baby can make it near impossible to get a flawless dent. Try doing it while they sleep, distracting them, or better yet ask for help. You can always use a few extra hands.
Can You Reuse Clay if You Don’t Like How Your Print Turns Out?
Yes, you can reuse clay, but only before it has dried. Once the clay has been air-dried or oven-baked, it cannot be made soft again for repurposing. Always redo the imprint immediately when you make an error.
If you notice something is wrong simply take the clay and squish it together, re-kneading it, and then shape and prepare it as you did before. Clay is elastic until it dries so you can redo your print several times, which is especially useful if baby or little one is extra squirmy.
How Thick Should a Handprint Be?
There’s no standard measurement for handprints, though making it too thick translates to longer drying time. Making it too thin increases its chances of cracking. Shoot for about ¾ inch.
How Do You Prevent Cracks From Appearing?
Ineffective kneading and fast drying are the major causes of cracks. Knead the clay adequately and dry it slowly at room temperature (or at the approved oven temperature). The quality of the clay also matters here so be sure that you are using the best clay for handprints.
Up Next: The Best Clay For Handbuilding