The final product, a fingerprint tree using a walnut tree as a base.
If you’re after a fun but unusual alternative to the humble address book, a fingerprint tree is a unique and creative way to remember who attended your wedding day, or any big event for that matter.
The premise is simple, provide guests with an image of a bare tree as well as some coloured ink pads – and let the fun begin!
Guests can unleash their creativity by adding their fingerprints to the tree and turning it into a gorgeous and vibrant memento of your event. And, rather than creating a guest book that gets stuffed into a drawer or bookshelf and, probably, never looked at again, your fabulous fingerprint tree can be hung on your wall and admired – every day.
It truly is a lifelong memory, one composed of the fingerprints of everyone – big and small – who was present at your wedding.
There are plenty of DIY alternatives available online and, says Ray Carter, owner of The Fingerprint Tree, which offers all-in-one fingerprint tree bundles, “they’re definitely increasing in popularity, especially for weddings and extra special birthdays, such as twenty-firsts, or even anniversaries.”
“We’ve had orders and interest from all over the world even from as far away as the Middle East and California.”
Ray started the business late last year after creating a one-off fingerprint tree for his daughter’s christening.
It was an instant hit and many of the guests wanted to know where they could get one for their events.
“I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid, so I had sketched out a really simple tree for the christening and was knocked out by the reaction,” says Ray.
“I started researching the idea online and was very surprised to see that most of the artwork sale ranged from fairly ordinary to pretty awful. I knew I could do better and was convinced there would be demand for an all-in-one package where couples could just go online, click a few buttons and have everything delivered to their door.”
He was right.
After researching the market for four months, Ray discovered that only a handful of people were offering a complete solution and the biggest hassle turned out to be getting the final tree framed.
So, he came up with a convenient solution: an all-in-one package where the blank fingerprint tree is delivered, complete with a coloured ink pad, matching metallic pen, all important wipes for cleaning a guest’s fingers after they’re inked, and a self-addressed postage tube in which the final product could be posted straight to the framers.
“All a couple has to do is roll up the fingerprint-laden paper, pop it between the acid-free tissue paper provided in the package and drop it into a post box once the wedding is over,” says Ray.
“It will arrive back at their door, beautifully framed, just a few weeks later, so it’s as hassle-free a process as possible.”
Today, all Fingerprint Tree images are hand-drawn by Ray. He chose all the tree designs in the collection after sifting through hundreds of photographs of trees – most of which he took himself.
“Late last year, I had to drive from Sydney to Griffith, then to Albury then back, all via Wagga. It was a 1600km round trip and I constantly found myself staring at the trees.”
“I didn’t even know they came in so many shapes and sizes and colours. I think the trip took several hours more than it should have just because I kept pulling over to snap photos every time I spotted a nice looking tree.”
All images in the Fingerprint Tree collection are printed on archival paper to ensure they won’t discolour, but also that “they’ll be around for your 50th anniversary.”
“They truly are unique and lovely pieces of art that can become a family heirloom passed down for many generations, especially since the paper we use should least about two hundred years.”
Ray says the most common question he receives about his service is how to ensure guests don’t end up leaving fingerprints all over their clothes and the reception venue. The solution, he says, is simple, “moist wipes. We include them in every bundle! They take the ink right off their fingers. After all, it wouldn’t be good to have everyone walking around like they’ve just come from the police station.”
Ray’s company also offers two DIY options: the first where customers can download a high-res pdf and print it out on their own printers or; a second option where they’ll send customers the tree of their choice print on archival paper.
In either situation, you’ll need to buy all the accompanying bits and pieces yourself and, of course, arrange to have it all framed. Alternatively, you can purchase a full kit for $130 and framing of an A4 fingerprint tree starts at $80.
For those wanting to create their own fingerprint tree, Ray suggests “setting up your tree on a table in a designated area and appoint one person to co-ordinate it and explain how it all works. That way you probably won’t end up with a messy mass of fingerprints everywhere.”
“Get your guest to write their name and, once the ink is dry, simply place their thumbprint or fingerprint on top of their name. The end result truly is a piece of art, but a really special one made up of the unique fingerprints of those in your life who are your nearest and dearest.”
But, warns Ray, don’t expect everyone to be too happy about being fingerprinted.
“We’ve heard of a few weddings where several guests got very nervous when asked to provide their fingerprints. Some flat out refused to join in the fun!”