Fingerprint jewelry makes a lovely custom keepsake. It can be done in fine or sterling silver, or you can make your own using very inexpensive polymer clay. Follow this step-by-step photo tutorial to learn how to make fingerprint jewelry in less than an hour!
1. Prepare the clay
First thing you need is some polymer clay. There are plenty of options for brands, such as Fimo, Kato, Premo and Sculpey – but I’ve found that Sculpey III is good for the beginner because it’s soft enough to use and take good impressions, but strong enough to last. These 2 ounce blocks are only a few dollars at any craft store, and you can get about a dozen thumbprint pieces out of one package.
The irony here is that polymer clay artists will spend A LOT of time and energy ELIMINATING fingerprints from their creations, = but here we’re using it as a focus!
We’ll use a silver color as the base.
Open the package. Note that it’s divided into four sections — use a craft knife to slice one of the sections off the block. You’ll only need half of one of these for a single adult thumbprint; a third of a section or less will work for a child’s fingerprint or your baby finger.
The trick to polymer clay is to condition it properly. You can’t use it right out of the package like this – the polymers are not combined properly and it will crumble and not hold up after baking.
Squish the section of clay in your fingers, combining it all around for a few minutes, flattening and folding it, until it’s a homogenous, smooth lump of clay. Divide this into two (one per thumbprint) and create a smooth ball.
I like to use smooth, small, ceramic tiles when working with polymer clay – they’re good as tools, working surfaces, and they can go straight into the oven with your finished work.
In this case, I’ve placed my ball of clay onto one tile, added a bit of water to another tile’s surface to keep it from sticking, and used the wet tile to softly burnish the ball into a disc.
2. Create the fingerprint
Gently wipe off any water droplets, then press your thumb (or your loved one’s fingertip!) gently but firmly into the clay. Do not rock back and forth, just press straight down.
You should see a clear impression of your fingerprint. If you don’t like the impression, roll up the ball and start again.
Add a small hole near the top. I like to offset it sometimes using a straw, stick, or other small tool.
Bake according to the package directions (usually, 275 degrees F for 15 minutes), directly on the ceramic tile.
Safety note: Do NOT use any regular kitchen items for polymer clay – if you do, you must never use it for food again.
3. Highlight the ridges
Now, the way to make the ridges of the fingerprint truly show up is a little tricky but totally attainable. You can use acrylic paint, but I like alcohol ink because it flows faster, and it’s thinner and less likely to clog up the ridges. Simply flood the fingerprint with black ink using a small, soft brush.
Now, that’s a little easier to see, but it’s still not so great. Let’s use a great little product called Inka Gold (in comes in many colors) to bring back the ridges. Add a very small amount of the pearl color to your fingertip, a glove or even a small piece of tissue, and very gently rub across the top of the fingerprint.
And voila! Instant, visible ridges. I like to add the inka gold around the whole rest of the pendant as well – it gives the piece a cohesive look, and also adds layers.
4. Finish the pendant
Add a jump ring to the hole at the top, and thread onto a chain for instant jewelry.
For a variation, you can add other decorations before baking using your fingertips around the edges, like a pie crust:
Use your imagination!
And, even more fun – who says you have to use black and silver? Try other colors and see what you can come up with – I’d stick to a dark color inside the ridges and a lighter color over top.