I’m such a sucker for little kid handprints—unless they’re on my windows. But, let’s face it, those Plaster-of-Paris prints become dusty fossils in a drawer somewhere and I have yet to actually frame any of the paper ones that come home from preschool. Thanks to shrink plastic, now we can carry those sweet imprints on the daily with these charming DIY handprint keychains!
Materials: Shrinky Dinks plastic (preferably the “crystal clear” kind – can be found at Michaels), GLOSS acrylic craft paint, paintbrush, Sharpie, detail scissors, hole punch, 10mm jump rings (found in jewelry section of craft store), split ring keyring, gloss mod podge, parchment paper (or non-stick silicone baking mat), oven.
A couple things… I only tried this on the CLEAR Shrinky Dinks plastic. I’m assuming it would work just as well on their frosted or white versions, but can’t say for sure. Also, the acrylic craft paint MUST be gloss finish—matte will not stick to the plastic. After experimenting with a few brands, I found that the Apple Barrel brand from Walmart stuck better than anything I found at Michaels.
1. Paint your child’s entire hand. Coat it well enough to be all wet, but not so drippy that you loose the details of the print.
2. Gently guide their hand onto the Shrinky Dinks plastic. Firmly press down all their fingers and palm to get a good imprint. Press the plastic against the table with your free hand while you carefully peel your child’s hand off.
3. If you mess up, don’t worry! I did too. It took me a couple tries to get the paint thickness just right. Good news is that you haven’t wasted your plastic, just remove the mess-ups with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.
4. After you have good handprints, wait for the paint to dry completely. Then, flip the plastic over and add your kiddo’s name, age or year to the other side with a Sharpie. A child that is old enough can even write their own name.
* For frosted plastic, do the handprint on the rough side and the name on the shiny side.*
5. After the Sharpie dries, carefully cut out the handprint with small sharp scissors (I love these precision scissors from Cutter Bee).
You can cut down in between the fingers, but don’t make them too skinny.
6. Punch a hole before you bake them! One standard size hole punch will shrink to the perfect size for your jump rings.
7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place your handprint paint side up (sharpie side down). I suggest shrinking just one or two handprints at a time— that way you can keep a close eye on them in the oven.
8. Pre-heat your oven to 325°F (a conventional or toaster oven is fine—do not use a pop-up toaster or microwave). Once heated, place your cookie sheet and handprints inside. DO NOT FREAK OUT when they start to curl and flip and do all manner of crazy things. This is normal.
Typically they need to cook for 2-3 minutes, depending on the oven. You’ll know it’s done when the handprint stops moving and has gone mostly, if not completely, flat again. In the event that part of your handprint gets stuck to another part, you can gently pry it apart while it’s still hot with chopsticks or two butter knives.
You can see in the photo below that even though it was done cooking, the handprint wasn’t entirely flat.
If that happens, quickly press the shrinky dink with a spatula immediately after removing it from the oven to flatten it.
9. Once the handprint has cooled, it is 9x thicker and very durable. Coating the painted parts with glossy mod podge will help protect the print from scratching off. Try to apply the mod podge only atop the paint and not the clear areas. Let dry.
10. Use small pliers to loop a jump ring through the punched hole and onto your keyring!
Now, of course these are shrunken handprints and they’ll turn out about 1/3 the actual size. But I don’t know a single mom, dad, or grandparent who wouldn’t be tickled to carry around a daily reminder of the little ones they love.
Editorial Note: After photographing this entire tutorial, I discovered that the handprints hang best from the keyring if they’re punched between the ring and middle fingers—like this…