Baby thumb print

We have a customer with a sad story. Her good friend has a baby with
a terminal illness. She wants to have us make a pendant in sterling
silver with the baby’s thumb print on it. I have heard of these and
seen some on the internet. It seems that an impression in wax could
be cast. Right now I have carving wax and sticky wax. We can make an
impression in the sticky wax but it is not very deep and only works
when the wax is softened a bit. Does anyone have any experience with
this or advice on how it is best done’thanks fr your help.


I’ve done this before. We took a watchmakers tin (for parts). Lined
it with aluminum foil. Melted BEES WAX in it. Kept it warm and gooey
and placed thumb it it. This wax is not really that hot. let it sit,
removed the blob with the aluminum foil, remove the foil, adjust as
needed and sprue up.

Adjust how much ax there is if you don’t want it too thick.

David Geller

I have made a tiny Baby’s hand print. I have had a perfect
impression with following:

Mix and make an RTV mold with the Baby’s thumb pressed into the RTV.
When the RTV is “set”, take PMC3 (which shrinks the least) and press
the PMC into the RTV mold. Let the clay dry and fire it in the PMC
kiln…lowest temp is 1150 degrees for 30 minutes…

If you are unfamiliar with PMC, ask around. To me (I do lost wax
casting) this is much more simple than trying to get an impression of
the baby’s feature in wax.

Rose Marie Christison

Hi Charlie,

I would recommend getting “Amazing Mold Putty” usually found in the
candle isle of your local hobby store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.
It is a two part silicone putty that sets up in about 10 to 15
minutes. I use it a lot to make molds for painting melted casting
wax into. I then let the wax cool and trim off all that I don’t want
and use it as a casting wax. It does a fairly good job of getting the
detail you need and you have a mold to try over and over again until
you get the wax model that you desire.

Good luck,
Ken Moore

We have been making wax fingerprint impressions for casting for over
30 years. Get 16 or 18 gauge soft sheet wax and immerse it in very
warm water for about 15 seconds. Push it against the finger, and
while it is against the finger run cold water over it for 5 to 10
seconds. You can gently peel the wax away, trim, sprue on the edge
and cast. With a baby’s fine prints it will probably take you a few
waxes to get just what you want. We also do a "meeting of the thumbs"
for couples with their prints on each side.

John Winters

Oddly this is one application where metal clay would be the perfect
medium for taking the imprint from the child then firing it quite
easily with a torcgh if you have no kiln…The versatility of the
clay allows for you to fuse it to a backing or design the entire
piece in one. Though it is fine silver not sterling so materials
would be quite a bit more costly, the impression would not then need
to be copied in wax but directly transferred from fingertip to actual
metal that would be part of the final piece…rer

Hi Charlie

I believe that this can be done in silver clay. I have just heard
from a friend who is doing this and apparently it is quite a simple
process. I beleieve that the clay can be fired with a torch or kiln
fired. What a harrowing story, i hope that iths might help to find a
solution making the print.


Charlie, so sorry to hear of your client’s situation. I am a retired
fingerprint expert and fingerprinting babies is difficult at best.
The problem is that the “ridge detail” that makes the fingerprint
unique is so fine it is almost impossible to record. I suggest that
maybe you use PMC to at least obtain an indention that you could then
incorporate into a beautiful pendant. The parents knowledge that the
indention was made by their child should provide the comfort and
physical item to hold for connection with their baby.

Good luck. Peggy

Yes, If you can take a medium layer of Elmers glue and apply it to
the thumb of the baby with a soft paintbrush, then dry it with a warm
hair dryer. When you carefully peel it off you’ll have a perfect
impression of the thumbprint. From there you can gently attach it to
a thin slab of sheet wax by applying a very thin film of sticky wax
to the slab. Make sure your hands are clean and free of dust, dirt
and etc.

It works great !
Margie - the mmwaxmodels woman

Pour some injection wax into a shallow “bowl” of play dough. While
it is still soft put the baby’s thumb print in it.

Charlie- What a heart breaking story. If you can pull this off, it
will be a wonderful mitzvah.

I’ve done it before. I used the soft thin green sheet wax, that I
warmed slightly with warm water. Makes a dandy impression and I got a
good casting out of it. Be sure to do at least two in case one
doesn’t turn out.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

...She wants to have us make a pendant in sterling > silver with
the baby's thumb print on it.... 

Infant and child finger prints tend to be very faint. One solution is
to get a good impression on paper, make a negative and create a
photo-polymer transfer print into which you can press wax or metal
clay. [Note: just make sure you arrange to get a positive on your
final piece!]. You could also make a negative and use it to etch the
print directly onto metal.

Many people use silver clay to make these kinds of prints. The key is
to use absolutely fresh out of the package clay when making the
original impression from a finger. If using a PPP plate, the
freshness of the clay is less of an issue.

Mary Ellin D’Agostino, PhD

Hi Charles

That is indeed sad.

One suggestion is to make the ‘Playdough’ recipe below. When it is
cool keep it in a closeable plastic bag. An impression of the baby’s
hand can be made with no discomfort to the baby then make a wax cast
and then cast it in metal…if the dough is allowed to dry the
impression gets distorted.

There is also Flexwax 120 that can be used to paint directly on the
body BUT I don’t know if cooling it down to paint on the baby’s
finger /hand will take away from its ability to catch the impression
of the finger print.

I wish you the best in this incredible project.

Simple Playdough

1 cup water
1 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Combine all ingredients and heat in saucepan over medium heat,
stirring constantly. When the moisture has been absorbed the
playdough is done. Allow to cool then knead until smooth.

…and Merry Christmas to all. Paz.


I have a friend with a small business who does this very thing. I
asked about the process and if I remember correctly, she said it is
done by inking the thumb and making a print from that, then reversing
the black and white and etching into a plate (copper) from which the
mold is made and then the wax. You could also use the ultraviolet
plate etching method. I tried direct impression with my 2 year old
grandson’s thumb, first with a 2 part mold material, then with PMC
silver and found that a small child’s fingerprints are too light to
get a good impression.

Donna in VA

Contact Todd Lehman @ precious memories 716-652-3640

Dear Charles & Orchid,

This is a very sad occasion & we send our deepest sympathy… Your
post jogged my memory-during the summer a client/metalsmith wanted
to do thumb prints for their wedding bands… They found this source:

77924 Vineyard Canyon Rd.
San Miguel, CA 93451 USA

They talk about doing baby prints…You can use their kit, do the
prints & cast yourself… No need to invent the wheel–they have a
product ready to go…

Take care,
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan

If you can obtain a dental product call Ex-a-flex it will do it for
you. It molds every tiny detail. Ask your dentist to give you a


If you take pink sheet wax and soak it warm water it will get very
soft and malleable. It will then take a ready fingerprint. Take more
than one impression as sometimes the casting may not come out right
and you may not get another chance. Pink sheet wax comes in various
thicknesses and something 1 to 1.25 MM will be thick enough to cast
this piece. After the piece is cast use a slight bit of rouge on a
buff to brighten up the metal and take off the casting “skin”. Just
enough to bring up the silver color. A very light hand will maintain
the relief and you should be able to see it without a patina. I have
some other suggestions if you like.

  1. Cut an oval or round shape to the sheet and then you can make a
    bezel to hold the cast piece like a gem stone. You can even engrave
    the back with dates and names after it is cast.

  2. You can also mount a watch crystal or clear quartz cab over the
    fingerprint and even put one on the back to hold a lock of hair or a
    photo. You just design the bezel in order to “sandwich” all the
    parts together. You use an epoxy on the side so it will be
    waterproof. A domed cab has the added benefit of enlarging the detail
    behind it. You might need to grind the watch crystal to shape if you
    go that route. Any decent lapidary should be able to do it.

This would be a emotionally tough job to do. Good for you. Our
prayers go out to this child and family.

Sam Brown
San Jose, CA

One option I have used in the past for a newborn-

Use an inkpad- obtain prints on white cardstock- I took
finger/foot/hand and butt. Scan them in hi-res and photoshop. Then
make sure you have a toner-based laser printer (or get a local
graphics printshop to do) and use acetate transparency sheet for the
image. Then electro etch using the toner transfer method and as you
have the files in hi-res you can repeat as needed, and scale it up or
down for whatever piece you need. I am not a big fan of regular
acid-etch as the process undercuts somelines too much for my taste-
but the electro-etch has produced a good result and fine line
structures in the past. FWIW- here is a link to a great and cost
effective tutorial–

Wow! Thank you to all who have responded to my original question. It
is amazing that at a time when everyone is working hard to earn their
living so many find time to offer concern and suggestions both here
and offline. It is also interesting how many different ways people
approach a project to get the same end result.It looks like we will
be trying the pmc method and see how this works out. Many people
suggested this and it is something we have wanted to try. We do have
a kiln in our shop. I will keep you posted on how it turns out.