Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mummy Hands

To make mummy hands you will need:

plaster cloth, such as Rigid Wrap
petroleum jelly
a hand

This does get messy so prepare a work area. 

Start by cutting the plaster cloth into strips.  I find 1 inch wide strips about 6 inches long are easiest to work with, but also cut a few smaller strips to fit in tight spaces. Cut more than you think you will need.  I also cut five 1-1.5 inch squares slitting the corners. These will be used for the finger tips. 

Lay out your strips, get a small dish of water and then lube up the hand you will be using. Lube it well. No, I’m serious, you want a nice thick coat of petroleum jelly all over and don’t forget the wrist. 

Also choose your hand wisely. When I first saw this project I had visions of a cute little family of hands, the big daddy hand, the medium sized mommy hand, the wee little…you get the idea. Then I tried it. As the plaster cures it gets cold, uncomfortably so. You also have to keep your hand completely still as soon as it starts to harden. Needless to say I have yet to talk anyone else into giving it a try. I had one young victim volunteer at the craft party, who was very eager to have a cast of her hand. I put a small piece of plaster cloth on her hand as a test and once it started to cure, she couldn’t get it off fast enough. Now you know why I have all right hands.

So we have strips, water, and we’re all lubed up. Now we start to apply the plaster cloth. Start with the squares. Dip them briefly. A little water goes a long way, they don’t need to be completely saturated. Center the squares on your fingertips, then wrap the edges down the sides and smooth out any corners.

This is your last chance to get your fingers in the position you want, just keep in mind you want to be able to wrap around them and slide them out after the plaster dries. Slightly curled and spread, like clawed jazz hands works well.

When applying the strips, you don’t have to smooth everything out perfectly. In fact the rougher areas tend to look more like bandages and less like plaster.

Now start applying strips down the back and front of the fingers onto the hand area. This gives you some nice strong anchor points for the fingers and then you can start wrapping around the individual fingers.

Make sure you have the space between the base of the fingers covered and use wet fingers to really get in the creases. Then start wrapping the hand and wrist like you would if you were bandaging it for real. Once you have everything covered, wet your fingertips again and blend in any edges that you don’t like the look of.

Now we wait. That’s friggin’ cold isn’t it?
Once it’s dry, you will have to slit the wrist up to the point where your palm begins to widen and then you can slip your hand out. I hope you remembered to lube well.

Patch up the slit inside and out. Add to any areas that you would like to strengthen. You can stop at this point and you’d have a nice mummy hand.

I like to display some of mine standing up. So I wrap a few strips around the base of the wrist. Then so it doesn’t look like I wrapped a few strips around the base, I add a few more angled strips.

And you could stop right here and then you’d have a nice free standing mummy hand.

But wait there’s more…

You can give your mummy hand an eye.

I made the eye out of air dry clay, painted with acrylics and used a plastic cat’s eye for the iris. Next time I won’t make it protrude so much and I’ll use threads for veins like I did with my binder.

One last finishing touch. I like steep a tea bag in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water. For this I prefer to use Yogi's Classic Indian Spice.  It has a nice color and spicy smell. Once it's cool, I blot the hand with the tea bag letting the liquid run into the creases.

But wait there’s still more…

Last Halloween I stuck a flashing red safety light in one of the hands and stuck it a pot with a dead plant on the porch. It looked pretty cool with the varying degrees of illumination created by the different thicknesses of plaster. 

I can’t take credit for the light idea. The year before while taking the kids trick-or-treating, we saw the most awesome pumpkin glowing fire red and had to ask what they used. It’s one of those things that once you see it in action you wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

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