A shout out to my sister for this project. She's a teacher also and taught me how to do this probably 20 years ago! This sample is made out of salt dough but I have also made a ceramic version (we have a local ceramics shop that sends an expert to take over). The ceramic hand will last longer and is my favorite, but I have had years when I couldn't afford the cost and the salt dough is less expensive. This turns out well also. Here goes...
Begin with your favorite salt dough recipe (leave a comment if you need the recipe).
Mix small amounts because it dries out quickly! I can only manage to make a few of these per day so I usually mix up enough for 4 or 5 hands. Make sure it's kneaded enough so that it feels as soft as skin! The consistency of the dough is very important. If it is too soft it will droop. Keep the extra in a bowl and cover with a damp towel.
Flour the cutting board and roll the dough to about the same thickness as their hand. I wear an apron but somehow manage to be completely covered in flour all day. Nothing new, I'm a mess every day - paint, glitter, chalk dust...
Anyhow, once you have it all rolled out, have the child gently lay their hand on top of the dough. You don't want them to press down! Trace around the hand with a pencil and cut it out with a table knife. The hand will look rough, with square fingertips. Let the kids help with following steps:
Using a dab of water, smooth the hand edges and round the fingers. Don't use too much water or you'll end up with mush. Work on this for a while to make the edges more rounded so it looks like a real hand.
Press a wooden skewer into the palm of the hand.
Now fold the fingers over the skewer, ending with the thumb. Using a sharp pencil, press in the child's initials and year.
I take the hands home for next few steps. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them at about 250 degrees until they turn light brown (it takes a long time!). Watch carefully and twist the skewer inside the hand every once in a while or it will bake into the dough and stick. Let cool completely. Your family will think you're baking bread! Ha!
Remove the skewer.
To make it look supple and skin-like, I am going to try applying a modge podge type application. I'll get back to you soon. This is a different technique than I usually use!
Next, slip some flowers through the little tunnel you created with the skewer. Use glue to secure. I really like straw flowers and hate all things plastic, but in this case I recommend the plastic; they'll hold up better in the hands of a five year old!