What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

What we did and when we did it. Sometimes. People, places and events to remember.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feeling Crafty! Family Handprint Christmas Tree

I loved art when I was a kid.  I had plans to live in New Orleans when I grew up; I would work part time as a lawyer and part time as one of the artists who display their works at Jackson Square.  That sounded like the perfect career plan.

Now my artsy side is limited to craft projects at MOPS.  :)  And I am not very patient or detail-oriented when it comes to art, so ... I'm not always successful at those.

However, in fall of 2011, the kids and I made one of my very favorite art pieces for our home:

These are handprint flowers for each of the kids, made when Ben was just 2 months old.  The flower pieces are all made from scrapbook paper, and the background is acrylic paint.  It makes me smile.

After we did this one, I found myself imagining other art that could be made from handprints.  I brainstormed about doing a Christmas wreath or Christmas tree made from painted handprints, and finally went back to my scrapbook paper roots.  Here's what I came up with:

I love it! 

Here's how I made it:

I bought a big canvas from Hobby Lobby (18x24, I think), and canvases were on sale for 30% off.  I also bought some candy cane scrapbook paper, plus two colors of green and one sheet of red.  The yellow I had left over from the flowers.

I lit a candle and burned the edges of the candy cane paper to create the ragged edges.  (That was fun!   I did not let the kids help with this part.  I didn't even let them see me do it; I did all my burning while Evan and Corrie were at school and Ben was napping.)

Then I modpodged the whole canvas and put the background paper on.  Let it dry.

I traced and cut out  all of our handprints on the green paper: boys on dark green, girls on light green.  That worked conveniently for sizing as well.  Our family's ages, heights and hand sizes go boy, girl, boy, girl, boy.  :)

I tried to make the tree in different ways - with all of our hands pointing down, with no trunk, etc.  I played around for a while until I came up with a tree design that I liked.  I debated about doing Ben's hands in red and making a "bow" for the top of the tree instead of a star, but then I decided the whole family should be the same.

Then I just modpodged all the tree pieces onto the canvas.  First the trunk; let it dry.  Then I started from the top and did one set of prints at a time.  Once all the hands were on the tree, I let it dry and considered.

That's when I decided to add the star and the "Christmas 2012" note at the bottom.  I think it's always a challenge to know when a piece is finished.  I had bought some cute ornament stickers, but I thought if I put them on, then it might be too much.  Simple is better.

Coat the whole thing with Mod Podge and - Voila!

Edited to add: I guess I should say that Ben's handprints are more of an approximation. I employed a sibling for distraction, then held one of Ben's hands down and super quickly marked where the ends of his fingers were, then tried to make one line for each finger edge. After he yanked his hand away, I kind of "connected the dots" and improved the shape a little. Then I did the other hand.

This may be our only major Christmas art project this year, but it is a keeper!  

I will be sure to update the blog if any other crafting inspiration strikes.  :)


  1. What a wonderful project. I am going to request this project be incorporated at the facility I work-- with the residents with disabilities. I'm thinking a small 2-inch photo of each resident can be added to their hand cut out (like an ornament) so they recognize their hands. Several trees can easily hang in their dinning hall.Thanks for sharing the detailed instructions! Love the project. Found your project after making a google search for top christmas projects. So many possibilities, I'm thinking felt hands glued to a dowel rod with a hole drilled at the top for ease in hanging on the wall or perhaps standing in a sturdy planter pot. Thanks again!!!