I was thinking ink in anticipating my fingerprinting appointment. Because my school is also a licensed child day care center we have a new state regulation that all employees and volunteers have an FBI fingerprint check. That is in addition to the DPS background check.

My previous experience with fingerprinting includes Sixties toy detective kits, making fingerprint bunnies, bugs, and monkeys in preschool classes, and the occasional check-cashing thumbprint. I wasn't aware how high tech the process is, and the fabulous images that would appear on the digital screen. Clearly, I don't watch enough police forensics shows and crime thriller movies!

The inaugural exhibition at the International Quilt Study Center included a group of quilts chosen as "expressions of identity". Three of Barbara Watler's art quilts from her fingerprint series were inluded. Each only a yard square, they were still striking enlargements of a single fingerprint. When the biometrics technician rolled my fingerprints and the image appeared on the fifteen inch digital screen, I wanted to have giant copies to use for textile art. Alas, I just had to enjoy the view for a minute.

A few years back I read Panama, by Eric Zencey. It was a very satisfying historical novel. The development of Alphonse Bertillion's classification and identification system for fingerprints played a major part in the story. Look for it at your library.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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