By KRISTEN THOMPSON
I often worry I’m not doing enough to capture my kids’ fleeting childhoods. I don’t just mean taking photos or logging milestones in baby books (which reminds me — I need to log milestones in baby books). I mean keeping trimmings from first hair cuts, hand prints from daycare art projects, the baby hat they wore home from the hospital: Tangible things that I can touch and feel, and that will remind me of their smallness when they’re not so small.
So when I learned about Smallprint Okanagan, which creates custom keepsake jewelry (people looking for Father’s Day gift ideas: take note!), I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for — not just for myself, but for my husband, parents, and anyone else looking for something unique and special to remind them of someone they love.
Two years ago, Suzanne Henderson - the woman behind this great business - reached out to see if I wanted my own custom piece of jewelry (and of course I said yes!), featuring the fingerprints of my two little daughters. To this day, my girls still love to play with the necklace, running their fingers over the grooves of their fingerprints, and remarking how much they have grown.
And since people always ask me where I got it, I decided it was time to share the love.
Kelowna-based Smallprint Okanagan is a pretty cool business. Suzanne makes handcrafted silver jewelry like necklaces, dog tags, cufflinks, bracelet charms, and even key chains that literally capture the fingerprint of a loved one in silver.
Suzanne will work with you to make a custom piece, and if fingerprints aren’t your jam, she can also capture a hand print, footprint, paw print, or even a piece of handwriting in silver. Sounds like magic? It’s actually a pretty simple process - once you understand how it works. Two years ago, she invited me - along with my curious toddlers - to her home so we could see how it worked, and get a necklace of our own:
She starts by rolling out a piece of silver, which at this point looks like a glob of grey silly putty, smoothing it out with a tiny rolling pin.
Then comes the tricky part: first a wriggly three year old, then an even wrigglier 18 month old, gently press their finger into the silver. Suzanne was fantastic at it, and we got Isla’s finger print in one go, and Polly’s in only two attempts.
Then you sort through a selection of pendant shapes (I chose the tear drop shape), which look like teeny tiny cookie cutters, and she presses the cutter into the silver around the fingerprint, carefully removing the excess.
Suzanne then fires the silver in a kiln, and out comes a beautiful, solid piece of silver with the fingerprint perfectly engraved in it. Because there are no moulds, the pendants have literally been touched by my children’s little fingers – I can feel the grooves in their fingerprints. Here’s how they turned out:
She even inscribed their names and ages on the back of each pendant:
You can also make jewelry out of hand and footprints, drawings and love notes. For hand prints, Suzanne mails clients special paper – kind of like Crayola’s Color Wonder paper – along with something that looks like a tiny wet nap. You wipe the wet nap on a hand, foot, or even your dog’s paw, press down on the paper, and a perfect imprint is left behind. The print kit is inkless and completely mess-free. This is how it looked when my three year old did it:
Suzanne can then scan that image into her computer, and use that captured image to imprint it back onto a piece of jewelry. You can do this with a loved one’s signature, a cherished letter or note, or even the fingerprints of people who live outside the Okanagan, and aren’t available to do the process in person. Even a child’s drawing can be shrunk down and imprinted onto silver, and given as a gift on a key chain, necklace or bracelet.
I’m already dreaming up gifts for my mom, my husband, and even my daughter – who seemed to think the pendant necklace was for her, and now wants one with our dog’s footprint, shrunk down onto a tiny piece of silver to wear around her neck.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, Smallprint Okanagan offers unique gifts that you can’t find anywhere else, and that are personalized just for the recipient.
Interested in having your own custom piece?
Here are some ways you can order your own keepsake:
1. Local events: You can find Suzanne set up and ready to make your custom keepsake at local events and shops in the Okanagan. An up-to-date listing of events will be posted on Facebook here.
2. Via email: Send a photograph of your prints, handwriting or drawings, and she will work with you to design a one-of-a-kind keepsake firstname.lastname@example.org. Prints kits can be mailed directly to your home as well.
3. In person: You can book a personal print taking session at her studio in Kelowna.
4. Home party: You can book a home party and she will come to you! As the hostess, you will benefit from a party discount.
To get in touch with Suzanne and Smallprint Okanagan:
Kristen Thompson is a freelance journalist, and half of the team that makes up Do The Okanagan. She likes jewelry, but never really wears it. Except her fingerprint necklace. She’s wearing it right now.