Painting on canvas photo prints
July 21, 2021 2:48 PM   Subscribe

My kids’ tutor is leaving and I need a gift. I’d love to use the kids’ handprints to make something nicer and more permanent than a plain old cardstock card. I’ve found a PDF template on Etsy that would look good as a background, and my thought is to get that PDF printed on canvas and then have the kids put their handprints on top with acrylic paint. Is that a good idea? Challenge level: would like to get it done this weekend.

Whatever we print needs to fit two of my 5-year-old’s hands side by side, plus my 2-year-old’s hand on top, plus the template image on the bottom (it takes up about half the page). But I also don’t want the print to be huge. (I actually think art or otherwise decorative things are kind of hard to gift anyway — who knows how the recipient will feel about having it in their house. The bigger it is, the harder it is to display — if they even want to. But this is my best idea...)

Since it needs to fit those three handprints, I’m thinking about going something like 11” x 14”. Maybe bigger so we’ll be safe? The PDF template I’m eyeing on Etsy is 8” x 10”. It’s pretty simple line art, so it should blow up — I think? Any thoughts?

Walgreens canvas printing seems like the cheapest option — since it’s not a photo, I don’t think it needs to be super high quality. Plus it would be fast. But I’d still be out $50+ if I got it and then found out it wouldn’t take acrylic paint. Do you know if those canvas photo prints have some kind of paint-proof finish?

If we don’t do the canvas print of the Etsy template, it’s possible I could personally paint something similar on a blank canvas and do the handprints on top, but I’ve tried that for grandparent gifts and they’ve turned out awful. I’m a really bad painter.

Is this a terrible idea in the first place? Do you have any better ideas for a personalized keepsake for a tutor? They’ve been hugely influential on my kids’ development over 2+ years. That’s like half their lives. And they’ve gotten to be especially close because of working conditions under lockdown. I’d really like to give the tutor something special to commemorate their impact and also remind them of the kids at this point in their lives. Paint handprints seem perfect, but I don’t know.
posted by liet to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Response by poster: I should also mention that this tutor has been full-time, exclusively with my family, so their experience working with my kids has also been a (hopefully memorable) chunk of their career.
posted by liet at 2:51 PM on July 21

For something memorable that truly evokes your children, a photo of them is perfect. For something that will impact them and cause them to remember you fondly, print out a glowing letter of recommendation with your contact information and promise them you will happily provide a written, email, or spoken recommendation at any time. Then make good on your promise.
posted by kate blank at 2:56 PM on July 21 [12 favorites]

I think it would work - acrylic paint will stick to just about anything as long as it’s not a greasy or oily surface. If you are printing on canvas you might consider stretching it onto a frame of some stretcher bars in which case you’d need a staple gun and staples that fit into said gun. The canvas should be a few inches larger on each side than your frame, so you can grip it enough to stretch it tight. So if your stretchers create an 11”x14” frame you’d want the canvas to be approx 17”x20” or thereabouts, depending on the thickness of your stretchers.

Alternatively you could purchase illustration board at an art supply store to apply the handprints to - or you could get some air dry clay to make a physical molded hand print too.
posted by fancyoats at 3:00 PM on July 21

If I were your tutor, I’d prefer something useful like a handprint mug to something I was supposed to display. There seem to be a lot of places that do those online.
posted by FencingGal at 3:23 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]

I agree with kate blank! Their suggestion about a cute framed photo and a letter of recommendation sounds great. Perhaps if they like to make art they can give that to the tutor? I still have a drawing I did with a kindergarten kid I was working with a long time ago and it still makes me smile.
posted by starlybri at 3:47 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]

I guess it would depend whether the tutor is someone who likes keepsakes. I have a friend who likes them well enough, but over the years finally told her students that she didn't need more keepsakes, but gifts of food or wine would be appreciated in their stead. All keepsakes I receive are kept for a year max, and then put into the thrift store box. Have you been to their home? You could see then see if this is something that they would find meaningful.

I would also suggest that maybe, if you haven't already, make sure you create a keepsake for your kid to remember their tutor by. A really nice photo of them together would be something that I, as an adult, would have liked.
posted by nanook at 4:56 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]

Not a direct answer, but i wanted to suggest a handprint plate as an option that might convey the same sentiment but be easier for the tutor to store and find useful without having to hang on a wall of her home. We did several of this type for family gifts where you draw with marker and upload it and they process it into a melanine plate. You could have each kid make their own plate (with or without handprints) or you could have each person place their hand on the plate and trace an outline, smallest hand in the center, kids names and date of the art work around the outside. We still use them from time to time - it can be fun to bring it as serving plate or dinner plate but it stacks neatly in the cabinet when it is not in use.
posted by metahawk at 5:27 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]

Handprints are meaningful to relatives of the kids, but I'm not sure will have the same emotional resonance to a tutor. If you're willing to spend fifty bucks on this, I think a nice framed photo and a $45 gift card will be better received.

(Source: husband is a teacher. Cards with heartful sentiments, snacks, gift cards are all gratefully received. Stuff, especially decorative stuff with no purpose, is just stuff we have to feel guilty about getting rid of).
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:10 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]

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