Last week’s Kiln Pointer included a story by Kathy Rhoades on how she made 25,000 coin-size thumbprints in clay. She has scattered them all over the world.
After reading about Kathy’s thumbprints, Dawn Christensen wrote to me about a handprint key chain that she made for her daughter. I have included instructions below. If you don’t work with clay, you can make similar key chains from other materials, such as clay silver.
By Dawn Christensen
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
As a middle school art teacher I am always exploring self-portrait ideas. I recently became a grandmother and put my grandson's feet and handprints in clay. It has become my daughter’s favorite key chain and is a form of child identity should we ever need it.
Here are directions for a baby footprint or handprint with variations for bead fingerprints. This works better if you have someone to help.
1) Roll a soft freshly wedged piece of clay on canvas between two – 1/4”-thick cedar slabs. For thinner slabs use two paint-stirring sticks. As you roll out the clay, rotate and flip the slab to prevent curling during drying.
2) Make sure baby’s hands and feet are free of lotion so the clay does not resist glaze at firing. Press the feet firmly into the clay (6 inches apart if doing pairs).
3) Trim around the hand or footprint in any desired shape with a fetling knife.
4) You can make a hole for a key chain using a straw about 1/4 inch from the edge of the clay.
5) Place the clay on a small piece of construction drywall (also called sheetrock) for even, slow drying.
6) Fire to bisque. (I use 04 clay.)
7) Glaze or stain as desired. I like to wipe the glaze so it stays in the indents of the prints.
When I did this the first time at three months, my grandson would not unclench his fist, so I made rectangular beads out of his thumb and fingerprints.
1) Using a small amount of clay, shape 5 ovals or rectangles. Run a nail or wooden skewer through shapes and keep it there. You can also use spaghetti noodles. They burn out during firing and help keep the holes open while you impress the fingerprint.
2) Gently press each finger tip.
3) Fire to 04 on a bead tree.
4) Glaze or stain as desired. The beads can be strung on five separate macramé cords at various heights, knotting above and below to keep the beads in place.
(Last week’s Reader Response included a letter from Farnham, UK.)
Eddi Reid of Powell, Ohio wrote, “I love Kathy's idea of leaving messages as unexpected gifts. As I write this, ideas are rushing through my mind on how to leave little pieces of gorgeous glass for others to find. I work with fused glass, but all the talk of ceramics has me itching to expand. Thank you to everyone who shares their enthusiasm and talents through your newsletter.
“And then an email from Farnham, where I lived for a while,” Eddi added. “Farnham is a lovely old place, full of history, and the college is famous for its arts programme. It is not far from London along the M3. Get off at Junction 5 and have a wonderful visit.”
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com
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