DIY: Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings

Thanksgiving Handprint Turkeys

Handprint Turkeys for Thanksgiving. Add a little wired ribbon and they become napkin rings. How cute are these?

While some may view my Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings as a cute trinket, I view it as a major success. This is the first started and completed craft project in seven months! Not only that, but I finished with 36 hours to spare on my deadline. Whoo hoo! I am so ecstatic, I can hardly contain myself.

I love handprint crafts, but hate that 99% of them are impressions of handprints in a circle or square block of clay rather than the actual hand. Once the kids get to be around 18 months old, their hands are big enough without adding the additional bulk of empty space that impressions require. Lucky me-I just happen to have a background in casting and had almost everything I needed for this project in the basement.


These napkin rings are a hostess gift for my parents. I wanted to make enough of them to support breakage and ended up casting 14 handprints in all. I used one quart of Smooth-Cast 300 for this project.

What you need to cast:

  • a bunch of salt dough, playdough or any kind of clay that you may have around the house – I like this salt dough recipe. I suggest that afterwards you either dispose of this dough or set it aside for future casting projects.
  • rolling pin
  • small amount of water in a container you can easily stick your hand into
  • Smooth-On Smooth Cast 300 casting plastic (amount will depend on how large and how many pieces you are casting)
  • large disposable plastic cups (Do not use styrofoam. The plastic will melt through the cups and you will have a mess on your hands)
  • disposable spoons or craft sticks for stirring
  • garbage bag or plastic tarp to protect your table
  • disposable gloves to protect your hands
  • hands for casting

Supplies for cleaning up your cast pieces:

  • fine grit sandpaper
  • jeweler’s files – (Not necessary, but I really like these, they aren’t very expensive, and you can use them on multiple projects.)

Supplies for painting your cast pieces:

  1. First things first, cover your table so you don’t spill liquid plastic on it. Great. Now, roll out your dough into 3/4″ inch thick circles that can fully support the size of the child’s hand. Circle by circle, have her (or help) press her hand straight down into the dough, pushing on her fingers and palm to make a deep impression. It should look something like this:

Smooth out those rough spots for a better cast. (step 2)

2) See the rough edges around the side of the palm and at the tips of the fingers? Put a little water on a fingertip and smooth out all those little rough bits on each mold. Try not to douse the entire mold with water. You want it to be relatively dry when casting.


Rough spots all smooth. (step 2)

3. Take a look at the impression from the side. You want your final handprint to be at least 1/2″ thick if not 3/4″. How tall is the wall of clay on the edges of your print? (Pay special attention to the heel of the palm.) If it is not very tall, you are going to want to pull the clay upwards to create a taller wall. If your wall is not tall enough you will have either or both of these issues: 1) the plastic will pour out over the edges of the mold and you will have a mess on your hands and/or 2) your cast will be very thin and easily break.


This print needs a taller clay wall at the heel of the palm in order to 1) make the final hand thick enough and 2) prevent liquid plastic from spilling out. (step 3)

4) Line up your smooth and tall molds and get ready to cast.


All set! (step 4)

5) Smooth-On Smooth Cast 300 is very simple to use. Guesstimate the amount of liquid you will need to fill these molds. (Note: any remaining liquid plastic will be useless, so try your best to estimate well.) Take out two plastic cups, a spoon or craft stick, and put on your gloves. Shake Part A and pour half of your guesstimate into one of the cups being careful not to fill the cup more than 40% full. (Cast twice if you need more plastic.) Shake Part B and pour the exact same amount into the second cup. Look at the cups from the side to make sure they have the same amount of liquid in them. Add more to a cup if necessary so the cups of liquid are equal in volume.

6) It’s time to work quickly. Smooth Cast 300 has a very, very short pot-life. It will harden in three minutes from the moment you mix Parts A & B. Are you ready? Add Part A to Part B (or vice versa, it doesn’t make a difference) and stir to thoroughly combine. Do not stir like a mad man or you will put air bubbles throughout. You do not want air bubbles. After it is mixed well, pour into your handprints being careful not to over pour. The mixture will turn white as it hardens.


Plastic poured and setting commences. (step 6)

7) In 10 minutes you can remove the plastic handprints from the clay, re-roll out the clay and cast again.


Demolding of the second cast (step 7)

8) Using an old sponge, wash the casting dough off of the plastic pieces. Dry with a paper towel.

9) Smooth out the edges with sandpaper and jeweler’s files.

10) Spray two light coatings of plastic primer on both sides of the handprints and let dry.

11) Paint however you’d like and then seal with the acrylic sealant. I used a wet brush to apply the base coat, but used a dry brush to apply all other color.


Color your handprints with a base color. I used a mix of Hansa Yellow, Indo Orange Red, and a touch of Permanent Hooker’s Green Hue.



Add a darker color for the shadows. (Permanent Hooker’s Green Hue and Cadmium Red)


Add highlights. (Hansa Yellow and Titanium White)


Add white for the head, a light blue for the eye, and yellow for the beak.


Add the red neck, a blue eye, and some darker bits for shading.


Stand back and admire your work! I’m going to hot glue some ribbon to the back to make napkin rings.

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