Whorls And Swirls


At some point in elementary school, my son had a detective kit which allowed him to dust for fingerprints. He happily went around lifting prints off every possible surface, until he ran out of materials and potential criminals. He took his detective role very seriously, and loved learning about whorls, arches and loops. The fascinating world of fingerprints is definitely a fun subject to explore with children.


  • black ink pad
  • card stock
  • paper
  • access to photocopy machine
  • pencil and eraser
  • tracing paper
  • masking tape
  • coin
  • white glue
  • very fine paint brush
  • fine glitter



1. Every fingerprint is unique, so no two can be alike. The tips of our fingers have raised ridges of skin that form patterns, and these patterns are referred to as either whorls, arches or loops. Each finger has its own pattern, which remains unchanged throughout life, although you might find the odd line/scar from injuries. Have a look at this chart, which shows the different types of fingerprints we have, and  this site which provides a more in depth look at the history and characteristics of fingerprints.

2. Now comes the fun part where each child can see what kind of patterns they have. Have them press a finger on an ink pad, making sure to get ink on the sides as well. Now have them press the finger onto a piece of paper. Repeat with all fingers and thumbs, and refer back to the chart to determine what they have.

3. The next part involves enlarging a print and covering it in glitter. Select a really good, clear fingerprint to photocopy/enlarge. The one we used was enlarged 300 times. It won’t be perfect, and there will be slight smudges, but it will be good enough to work from.


4. Tape a piece of tracing paper on top of the photocopy, and with a sharp pencil, trace the lines. Write “front” somewhere in a corner so you don’t confuse the sides. Turn the paper over, and trace over the lines. Make sure you place it on top of a scrap paper while doing this. Turn tracing paper over to the front side and place it on top of the card stock you will be using as your final surface. Tape it in place and gently rub a coin on top of the entire drawing in several directions. Lift up a corner to make sure you transferred the image properly. Remove tracing paper.


5. Pour some white glue in a shallow container, and using a very fine paint brush, apply the glue to the lines on the drawing. I did try using a glue pencil thinking it would be easier, but the tip just wasn’t fine enough, and the lines were too thick. If there is more space between the lines, it would probably work well, but the image would have to be very large.

Add some fine glitter on top, and shake off the excess on a piece of paper, which will make it easy to return to the bottle later. Do small sections at a time, or the glue will dry. It’s not important to cover every single line, but as much as you can to get the general pattern.


This project was inspired by a cool magazine add for Cartier:




Filed under fingerprints

54 responses to “Whorls And Swirls

  1. Excellent…love this project!

  2. This is so cool! I saw it at Craft-O-Maniac’s hop! Would love for you to share it with my readers sometime! Here’s a link to my “Link up forums”! http://stringtownhome.blogspot.com/p/stringtown-sisterhood-forum.html Hope to see you, soon!

  3. Ana

    What a great idea! I can see making one for each member of a family and framing them.

  4. Lovely work of art, one would suspect fingerprints to be an art theme, it is a brilliant idea for kids too 🙂

  5. Great idea,lovely work 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us at Creative Mondays …

  6. oh I love this idea! So fun that you ripped it off a jewlery ad :o) Would love for you to come by and share it at my party! Tasteful Tuesday: http://www.nap-timecreations.com/

  7. This is so neat! I love the glitter! That’s so awesome that you could turn your son’s school project into art.

  8. That is SUCH a neat project. I’m pinning this for sure to try with my girls!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  9. Very cool and pretty and interestingly different! Love it and I think I might try it =D

  10. Stunning. My breath is taken away! Definitely pinning it. How long did it take?

  11. This is so cool! Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop 36.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above
    Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
    Nichi @ The Mandatory Mooch

  12. I love this idea! I have two little boys who would like this. Would you please link this at my Family Fun Friday this Friday? I blog to a MOPS group w/56+ women and some other mom groups. Thanks so much!
    (link up will open later today)

  13. I hope not too many of those potential criminals turn into real criminals………..lol

  14. This is a unique idea. I’d love it if you link up with hobbies and handicrafts. It’s really neat that one of your son’s hobbies is detective work. http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.de/2013/01/hobbies-and-handicrafts-jan-25.html

  15. Another way to get a fingerprint: rub a graphite pencil on paper until you have a good coating and rub finger over the pencil markings. Next, take a piece of scotch tape and put directly on the finger with the pencil smudge on it. Rub on the finger to make sure all of the black came onto the tape. Put tape on white paper. It’s a great way to get a clear fingerprint. I love the art. I must do that. I’m pinning this project and would love to have you share this at What to Do Weekends Party on my blog. This would be wonderful weekend project wouldn’t it? Take care, Linda


    • That is another great way to do it Linda, and you won’t have to go around with ink stained fingertips! Thanks so much for pinning this project, and for inviting me over to your party. Looking forward to it!

  16. Diana Rambles

    This is an AWESOME activity. Love it!!

  17. funatchelleshouse

    That is very pretty.

    Thanks for linking up to Sharing Saturday

  18. I love this! What a fun project. Thanks for linking to Share It Saturday!

  19. It’s a new Linky Party to create more buzz for your blog and connect with others! If you haven’t joined Creative Crafts Thursday yet, please share your projects at http://www.creativecraftsthursday.blogspot.com each and every week and check out what other creative divas are up to.

  20. What a super-fun idea! I’m pinning to do this with my kids sometime!

    Thanks so much fro sharing

    hugs x

  21. The body as art!! Love it!

  22. How cool! Thanks for sharing at Submarine Sunday!

  23. Bella, I noticed too that we have been handprinting and fingerprinting along together this month! I love the way you took this project to the next level with the enlarging -that makes kids really take a look at things- and the glittering -which makes a really classy craft – but my grandkids are still too heavy handed with the glitter bottle to try this until they get older! Another idea to save, though! Thanks!

  24. I love this!! So unique and creative. Thank you so much for sharing at A Bouquet of Talent!! I can always count on you for inspiration. 🙂


  25. I wanted to let you know that I featured your wonderful fingerprint art! I love it and I wanted to feature it also. The new Party is up and running. Hope you can join us with something wonderful again this week. Linda


  26. this is such a cool idea, so creative!!
    You’re featured this week @ Inspire Me Fridays!
    thank you so much for linking up!!

  27. Oh, how fun!! I love it!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  28. Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up your awesome project! Visit us again next week and link up more awesome stuff!

    Have a great week!

  29. This is Awesome..Love it 🙂

  30. Hi nice reading youur blog

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