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The following super-fun tutorial was contributed by the illustrious (and very crafty) Screaming Scarecrow of Screaming Scarecrow Studios. Enjoy!
NOTE: We are including our professional haunt armature instructions, but you do NOT need to use tools or pipe for this prop. See below for two easy versions.
One thing all home haunters can use, as the Halloween Season draws near, is a few extra pairs of hands.
And we mean that in more ways than one!
Luckily, you can craft creepy monster hands for much less than finished full props you’ll find in Halloween novelty locales.
Here’s how to make your own alternative store bought prop hands (though these will certainly do in a pinch – buy inexpensive ones and creep them up yourself using our cool painting method below).
You Will Need:
- Witch Fingers (see below)
- Kitchen gloves: non-Latex if you are Latex-sensitive (see below)
- Expanding foam (see below for link)
- Sturdy wire (to bend and pose the hands when finished)
- Craft/utility knife or scissors
- Black magic marker
- Spray paint or airbrush kit and paints appropriate for latex or vinyl
FOR THE PROFESSIONAL HAUNT VERSION You Will Also Need:
- 1.5-inch white PVC pipe
- safety goggles
Here’s how we create a cool variety of monster hands to amp the scare factor of our seasonal haunt.
We start with a few pairs of cheap latex gloves – the regular kind used for common household chores. (NOTE: If you suspect a latex allergy, choose latex-free gloves. This is critical…latex allergy is no joke and can land you in the hospital. Please be aware!)
The next must have item for this Halloween project are cheap plastic “witch’s fingers,” which are readily available every autumn and come in different colors and styles.
This makes it look less like a household chore glove and more like a hand. It is also the better side for painting later.
Next we carefully cut a small piece off the tip of each glove finger. We find that a sharp craft/utility knife works better than scissors.
Do not cut the holes too big or the plastic witch’s fingers will just fall out the ends when sliding them into the fingers of the glove. It is better if the witch’s fingers are stretching the holes in the gloves as they are pushed though.
The Wrist Bone’s Connected to the Monster-Arm Bone…
NOTE: For the non-armature version, skip to Fleshing Things Out, below.
Now we are going to use some ½ inch white PVC pipe to make an arm bone and then use some wire hold the hand to the bone.
The arm bone doesn’t need to be very long, usually around 10 to 12 inches. It should begin in the middle of the hand and only stick out of the wrist opening of the glove a few inches. This is how the finished hands can be connected to the monster.
Once the arm bone is cut to size we carefully drill a hole through both ends of the pipe about an inch in from the end.
One side will be used now, with the wire, to attach the hand to the bone, while the other side will be used later to hang the hand during the finishing process.
Always using protective eye and hand wear, we cut a piece of wire. When put through the hole in the pipe bone, it can be bent on either side so as to go into the thumb and any other finger of the hand. These will connect to the plastic witch’s fingers. This is what will keep the hand attached to the bone while it is later filled with foam.
NOTE: Once the foam sets, it’s the foam that holds everything together.
Attaching the plastic witch’s fingers to the wire is a bit tricky; we simply drill or poke a hole in the finger and slide the wire through. Then we bend the wire into a hook and then slide the finger back up into the hook of the bent wire.
Once we’ve prepared a few sets of hands like this we are ready to hang the hands up and fill them with foam. We like to run a long wire through the holes in the arm bones that we drilled early and hang the hands side by side when we fill them with foam.
We use expanding foam (the kind used for insulation and to fill cracks) to fill the hands out and give them their form. IMPORTANT: Perform this part of the project outside, as the fumes can be an issue.
Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using these products. We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. We DO NOT want you to get this in your eyes.
It is also a good idea to wear old clothes and gloves.
We start by placing the nozzle of the foam can down into the fingertips and squeeze a bit of foam into each finger – let that expand for a bit while moving on to the fingers of the next pair of hands.
Next we fill then hand cavity of each hand with foam and then after that too has had a chance to expand a bit we then fill in the wrist and arm portion.
Try not to over-fill the gloves; if you will, you’ll wind up with “puffy” hands. This is a bit of a learning curve; you’ll get a feel for it. If you see things growing a bit out of control, cut the glove on one side to relieve some of the expanding foam.
This is all messy and the fumes are terrible, we won’t lie. It’s a good idea to always work with foam outside.
Because the expanding foam is inside a latex glove, which isn’t porous, it takes quite awhile to cure. Allow your “hand” to sit two to three days for the foam to cure properly.
After the foam has cured, we take our pile of hands and paint them.
Painting Your Hands (and We Don’t Mean Nailpolish!)
Painting is the truly creative part of this project. Here’s our method:
First we draw some detail lines on the hands with a black marker (or any color that is going to work with the finished prop).
Then we spray paint them the color(s) we need. We may use an alternate color for shadowing, or add red drips or splotches. Get creative!
As you can see, we are not artists by any stretch. Just remember our mantra at Screaming Scarecrow Studios: “Everything looks good in low light!“ You’ll be absolutely amazed at how creepy and frightening these little babies look on Halloween night.
There are lots of variations you can do with this technique to come up with different types of hands.
For instance, we sometimes rub a little of the expanding foam on the outside of the hands before painting, because when it expands and cures the texture looks like warts, veins and wrinkles.
Another variation which can kick these hands up a notch is using wire on all the fingers, which allow us to pose them before they are filled up with foam. The following photos below show an example of this kind of hand. We also pushed the plastic witch’s fingers a little farther so the prop hand would have longer fingers.
One interesting thing we noticed while creating these kind of hands for our halloween props, is that as the expanding foam inside the glove cures the foam sometimes shrinks into itself. This can result in wrinkles or deformation – there is no way that we know to control this phenomenon. Sometime it works in your favor and sometimes it may not. For this set of hands they wrinkled perfectly!
Even though you may not always have enough pair of hands helping you put together (and especially tearing down) your home haunt, we hope you’ll nevermore be short handed when it comes to monster hands for your Halloween props. Thanks for reading, and happy haunting!