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Fingerprints for Special Occasions

29 July 2014  |  Nicola

Fingerprint guest books

When it comes to adding an individual touch, you don’t get much more personal than using fingerprints; from children’s birthday invitations to save-the-date cards, baby growth charts and guest books, incorporating fingerprints into the design can make your items that little bit more special.

One of the most popular way to use fingerprint artwork is in place of a guestbook at a wedding; rather than opting for a chunky book which is stored out of sight in a drawer once the big day is over, a template of a tree with bare branches is printed out and guests are invited to ink their fingers and leave a prints to form the leaves. More personal than a message, and perfect for framing and displaying alongside wedding photographs, it's not hard to see why more and more couples are choosing to do this.

Fingerprint Tree

There are some great printable trees online for a few pounds, or a good search will soon turn up some free ones. We're big fans of the chevron design by Dovely Day, and the rustic version by STNstationary, both on Etsy.

Today, we’ve got a nifty little tutorial on how to make your very own fingerprint artwork, with a few helpful tips for choosing the right ink pad and deciding on your design.

Choosing a template

You will need:

Various ink pads, of archival quality

White card

An archival quality pen

1. Decide on your design; what you choose will depend on what item you’re making – for example, we chose balloons attached to a bicycle, which would be great for a save-the-date card, and a steam engine with clouds of billowing smoke, ideal for a child’s birthday party invitation. There really are no limits to what you can make, though, as long as you remember to incorporate the fingerprints; we also liked the following ideas:

  • A row of flowers, with the fingerprints as the centre and printed paper for petals.
  • The more traditional tree design, where the fingerprints become the leaves.
  • A vintage-style kite, using fingerprints to make the bows for the tail.

2. If you have a printer, find a good image for your design online, and print it out – otherwise, you can always look in books and magazines.

Fingerprint steam train

3. Plan where you want your fingerprints to go by placing a piece of plain white paper over the top of your picture, and printing onto this first. Once you’ve found a design you’re happy with, print directly onto the card with your picture on.

Fingerprinting with Memento ink pads

4. Add in any extra details, such as the string on a balloon, and then leave to dry thoroughly.

Tips and Tricks

1. If you’re printing with children, make sure you’re prepared; cover the area with newspaper or scrap paper to avoid staining surfaces, make sure they’re wearing an apron, and most importantly, keep plenty of wipes to hand!

2. Different ink pads leave stains of varying degrees; Dew Drop Memento pads are available in a range of brilliant colours, but are virtually impossible to remove from hands straight away, as are Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads. If you’re printing with children, or you have somewhere important to be the following day, Versacraft pads are a far better choice – one quick wipe and the stain has vanished.

Fingerprint ink pads

3. Your chosen ink pad should depend on how you want your design to look; Dew Drop Versamagic are a range of chalk inks, and provide really good, even coverage, while Dew Drop Brilliance pads are rich colours with a metallic sheen, and seem to change colour in the light. If you really want to pick up the details of the thumb or fingerprints, Versafine ink pads are great at highlighting areas other pads might miss.

4. Make sure that both your ink pads and any pens are archival quality - this prevents fading, and will keep designs fresh and bright.

5. Whether you’re five or fifty, make sure you have the essentials to hand – some wipes and a bin or rubbish bag!

Steam engine fingerprints


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