Introduction: Personalized Family Tree

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Creating a visual representation of your family tree can be incredibly fun and rewarding. Whether you want one for yourself or need a special gift for someone you care for, this tree is a great personal project that's sure to have lots of people smiling as they contribute their fingerprint leaves.

Step 1: Supplies

Pencil and scrap paper

Canvas (you can use any size you like, for this one I'm using 11 x 14)

Brown permanent marker

Embossing ink pen

Ink pads in shades of green (or whatever color you choose)

Colored buttons (I used orange for one tree and green for the other)

Needle and color coordinated thread OR hot glue gun

Embossing powder in shades of brown. I use Reflections embossing powder in copper, champagne, gold, and vintage mahogany. You can paint instead, but the embossing is really worth the effort.

Embossing heat gun

Step 2: List and Sketch

Make your family list and sketch a quick rough draft of the tree. The sketch isn't super important, you just need to have a general idea of where you want everything to go. In this example, my sketch is awful.

Step 3: Draw Tree

Using a pencil, lightly draw your tree onto the canvas. Don't overthink it! It's okay for the lines to be wobbly and jagged, most trees aren't perfectly straight. If you feel like you've messed up you can erase, but it might not all come off, it just depends on the pencil, eraser, and canvas. I like to write each person's name on the inside of the branch because it looks nice and neat that way. I also like to do parent's names in a heart shape on the trunk with kids up in the canopy of the tree.

Step 4: Trace Over Tree

Trace over your pencil with brown permanent marker. If you mess up you can use a cotton swab and alcohol or nail polish remover to very carefully remove the errors and correct them. In the first picture here I had asked my brother who is having a baby what name they've chosen, and messed up, so I had to use nail polish remover to correct my mistake.

Step 5: Embossing the Tree

Using your embossing pen, draw some (many) lines through the branches of the tree and down the trunk. We're emulating bark here, so it should be sort of erratic and natural looking. Once you're satisfied with the amount of ink down, sprinkle with the first embossing powder color. I use copper as my first color because I prefer it as the dominant trunk color.

Step 6: Continue Embossing

Repeat this step with the rest of your brown colored embossing powders, filling in empty spots with ink, dusting the tree, and then pouring it off. You might want to keep a paper towel next to you to wipe off the embossing powder that sticks to the embossing pen as you fill in the tree.

Step 7: Use Your Heat Gun!

Now for the really fun part. Using your embossing gun, apply heat. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You will see the embossing powder flash in golden glory as it transforms. Move up the trunk and across the branches. Once you're finished and all of the powder has been transformed, everything should have a wonderful golden shine.

Step 8: Sew on Buttons

Grab your buttons! Pick some places that look to you like maybe there should be some leaves there to fill out the tree. Be sure to leave enough space that fingerprints won't be obstructed. Sew into place or hot glue. I sewed onto this canvas, but my orange tree is on a board canvas (because I was worried that cats would rip canvas with their claws) so the orange buttons were hot glued on.

Step 9: Family Fingerprints

Add family fingerprints! I did one at home with just the kids and cats as an example. The green tree is going with us to our next family gathering to be filled in there.

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