Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lesson idea: reMarkable Macro Fingerprints

I originally stumbled upon this project idea on The original idea took the artist's finger print, blew it up to macro detailing and then infused the lines of the print with a narrative of the artist's life story. I liked the idea immediately because it opened the door for cross-curricular learning. For my own purposes though? I felt it could be strengthened by doing more than just a self-reflective narrative and I changed that to using Bible verses instead.

To make the project more approachable for my students I identified seven different types of scripture and set up a printable worksheet for them to collect and organize their scriptures. Each student studied  their Bibles and came up with scriptures that spoke to them of love, faith, courage, forgiveness, hope, healing/comfort, and wisdom. The idea of the project was multi-layered with regard to how and why the scriptures were used within the fingerprint:
  • God's word is something He hopes will leave a mark upon us so that the marks we leave all over the place (since it's so hard to not leave fingerprints wherever we've been) are marks that are infused with Him.
  • God's touch/fingerprints are all over creation and that includes even the tiniest details like our fingerprints. No detail is overlooked and He has taken care to attend to every one of them.
  • Every mark we leave behind should be infused with love, faith, courage, forgiveness, hope, healing/comfort, and wisdom. If everybody was doing that, imagine the world that would be created instead of what we have instead.
I've done a few projects with the students where scripture helps to inform the design of their work and since I teach faith-based curriculum, that works well! However, I definitely don't feel as if I do it often enough. From the stand point of teaching from a Christian worldview, scripture always has a place and always should be in place. And when it comes to art, it's a great connection with creativity/creation to the students and always inspires them to be more invested in their project work no matter the difficulty and challenge that might be presented as well.

This project definitely presented technical challenges to the students. There were many steps from start to finish and lots of new types of media and elements of art for them to be introduced to all at once. I started the project with having the students work on getting good clean fingerprints using black ink stamp pads on copy paper. I encouraged them to try and get prints from all of their fingers and thumbs on BOTH hands and then make decisions about what print they liked best. For the smaller fingers, I required them to print the shaft of the finger in addition to the finger pad to yield more fingerprint lines the way a thumbprint would yield.

Once everyone was printed and they had picked their best prints, I invested multiple planning periods standing at the copier blowing them up to fit on an 8.5x11 copy sheet of paper. I first enlarged them by 300% and then I enlarged the new sized print by 150-250% depending on how large they were at the 300% stage. Once I had them all enlarged, the students used them to enlarge them again onto poster board that was about 11x14 in size. I didn't require them to draw the prints line for line but encouraged them to simply section off the fingerprints in parts where the print lines started to change directions and/or naturally divide themselves. It was challenging for many of them (since they are foundational students with not a whole lot of experience) but it was tremendously helpful for me to help them draw out at least one section - for placement - and then simply encourage them to build from that. After the directional lines and parts were established, I had them just start penning their scriptures over and over again and in whatever color palette they felt drawn to use. It took a LONG time for the students to overwrite the fingerprint lines with scripture but they were very invested in it and the further along they got, the more intent they were to keep at it. As encouragement, I urged the students to use the kneaded erasers provided at each table set-up to erase the underlying directional lines so that the scripture lines took center stage. When all was said and done? Every piece that was completed (there were a few who didn't finish due to time management issues) was truly remarkable - hence the name that I dubbed this project reMarkable.

This was the second major project of about 8-10 total that we will do for one semester. Considering the level of challenge and difficulty that was presented with regard to their own limited experience, I definitely feel as if they rose to expectations that were set forth for them. Their next project is focusing on color theory, form, shape, and space in watercolor media and I think they will do very well with it.


  1. would love to see the worksheet youh gave out for scriptural direction...Great idea. I am going to do it with my 7th graders.

  2. Hi Springer! So glad that you are going to give this one a go. It was so successful that I am doing it again this year myself. Here is a google doc file folder where you can access the worksheet (as you requested) in PDF format as well as a sample page of scriptures (found by me) that adhere to each of the 7 virtues.

  3. How did u get rid of the photocopied lines so just the verses show? Thanks. It's a great idea

    1. If you go a little bit back into my archives you will remember that I shared a posting about actually making the prints here -

      It was a very arduous process as each student had to do almost pages full of prints in order to get a clean one - where you could clearly see as many of the lines of their print as possible - but once I got that, I was able to enlarge them 300% on the copier and that made them large enough for them to be able to see to transfer the lines onto poster board paper. Many of the students transferred the major patterns with light pencil markings so when we went over them (with the scripture) in solvent based pen it was easier to just erase the pencil lines that were previously served as guides for them to write the scriptures.

    2. Thank you for your response. Got the fingerprints yesterday and working today on the photocopying of them. Kids have chosen their Bible verses and so we are moving on to copying the verses over the lines. I'll send you a photo when we are done. Such a great idea!


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