Doggie Footprint Art
December 21, 2006 12:16 PM   Subscribe

I need advice about a craft project that will involve taking pawprints from my dog.

I'd like to incorporate my dog's pawprints into a greeting card I'm making, but I'm a bit chary. To do this, I'd need a dye that's relatively cheap, that will set quickly in paper, that's water-soluable, that will wash off easily, and that (most importantly) will not irritate my dog's pads, or make her sick if she ingests it.

Does anyone have experience with doing this? Any recommendations about dyes (or substances to use as dye?) Is this just completely inadvisable? Horror stories welcome, as long as they're even minimally substantiable.
posted by palmcorder_yajna to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
when I had my children, they took footprints at the hospital on this kind of paper with ink on it that took a great footprint but left no ink on their tiny feet! I don't know what it's called or where to get it, but it sounds like exactly what you need.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:18 PM on December 21, 2006

You want a dye based ink, not a pigment based ink for this. Pigment ink is often indelible and harder to wash off.

The brand Marvy makes a non-toxic dye-based ink you should be able to buy in any crafts store. Alternately, you could go to a toy store and look for craft ink specially made for children. You will probably find some good washable inks or paints that you could use there.
posted by tastybrains at 12:25 PM on December 21, 2006

Oh, based on Sassyfras' comment, you could try Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaints ... my sister works with young children and raves about this product since it's very neat & also non-toxic / non-irritating.
posted by tastybrains at 12:27 PM on December 21, 2006

The squid ink used in Japanese fish printing might work. but the other stuff is probably easier to get.
posted by Iron Rat at 12:37 PM on December 21, 2006

My kids are constantly bringing home handprint craft projects that they do in school. I am pretty sure they use washable tempera paints. Hopefully since it is safe for a human it will be safe for a dog.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:38 PM on December 21, 2006

Try food color. Run a couple of tests on the appropriate kind of paper with your fingers to see if you need to dilute it any and if the color is what you want.

Do the actual footprinting outside. One of the funniest stories I've ever been told was about a craft project involving a greyhound, a dish of green paint, and pretty much all the carpeting and furniture in the house. Some dogs really don't like getting their feet wet. You may have more success using a little roller, sponge, or envelope-wetter and the dog laying down, if your dog would cooperate with that kind of thing.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on December 21, 2006

Seconding the ink for children idea. I have an ink pad of the kind they use in primary schools, stamp the stamp on the pad then onto the paper or back of your hand. I've used it to sucessfully put cat paw prints onto greeting cards. It's water soluble so wipes off with a damp cloth. I got it in a chain bookstore with a fairly decent art supply section (Whitcoulls), just look for the washable non-toxic labels.

The other thing I did for more mass production cards was scan the cats leg and use the digital image to make a paw print pattern I could print out (so it became part of the card design). They're pretty docile cats so getting one to stand a foot on the scanner for a minute was fairly easy, but this may not work for you and your dog. Still, totally non toxic and no ink anywhere so I thought I'd mention it.
posted by shelleycat at 12:42 PM on December 21, 2006

I'll assume that none of the card recipients has your dog's paw print committed to memory, right? Why not make life easy on you and your dog and carve a paw print shape out of a potato and dip it in a little ink or acrylic paint? It'll be a lot less messy, and the effect is just the same.
posted by iconomy at 12:43 PM on December 21, 2006

If you have a scanner you could set it up on the ground and hold your dogs paw in place once, then create a stamp out of that image in photoshop and pull that into your card designs. No mess!
posted by prostyle at 12:51 PM on December 21, 2006

Well, here is what I was talking about.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:10 PM on December 21, 2006

posted by Sassyfras at 1:11 PM on December 21, 2006

I tried to take one of my dogs' pawprints not too long ago, using a standard stamp pad, and the result sucked. The sandpapery texture of a dog's pads makes it difficult to get a nice, solid-looking print. My "take away" from the experience was that you need some fairly thick medium to get the print in --- the tempera paint solution offered above sounds promising.
posted by jayder at 1:41 PM on December 21, 2006

Essentially what you're doing is block printing, and the intended medium for this is a water-soluable block printing ink, but frankly children's finger paints are ideal for this: non-toxic, cheap and easy to rinse out. The only downside is the colors are kinda weak. Are you intending on making one image and reproducing it, or making multiple prints, and how patient is your dog having her paws touched? Because regular cheap non-toxic brightly colored acrylic paint would be perfect if you're making just one - but it dries too fast to make multiple prints unless you rinse her foot and reapply the color, and she might not be so happy about that. Put whatever paint you get on a flat surface, spread it fairly thin (try 2 colors roughly mixed), then press her foot on the paint, and then onto the paper, thus avoiding getting color between her toes or blobbed on the paper. Use some warm soapy water and a soft nail brush and to remove any paint that's left on her feet, whatever type you use.

Having previewed, pigments vs. dye doesn't determine staining, but regardless what you want is a non-staining, water-based washable paint or ink pad that's non-toxic, which anything labeled as being for kid's should be.
posted by tula at 1:43 PM on December 21, 2006

Ha I haven't really got any advice to offer you re. the type of dye to use, but I thought I'd share with you this funny story:
A couple of years ago, my sister (16 years old) and I made our mum a birthday card. I suggested that she put a paw print in it from our cat - I meant DRAW ONE!!!
I returned an hour later to see red paw prints all over the wooden floor of our lounge, and the poor cat with red acrylic paint all over him! She thought I'd meant to actually print from his paws, so set about dipping his paw into a saucer of paint! He's freaked at this and ran away...laving a trail of paw prints behind him! He was covered in red paint for a few days after too, so I would definately not recommend acrylic! (Although I'm sure you wouldn't be that stupid!!) Also I would guess a dog might be a bit more co-operative with something like that.
posted by schmoo at 3:02 PM on December 21, 2006

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