Another Halloween How To Article from the lurking lunatics at Screaming Scarecrow Studios
One thing all home haunters can use, as the Halloween Season draws near, is a few extra pair of hands. No matter what the scale of your Halloween haunt, there never seems to be enough helping hands around to complete every project you’ve dreamt up – something always ends up on the “Oh well, we’ll do it next year” pile. Sadly we can’t offer any help with that particular problem but if you find yourself in short supply of Monster Hands then read on and find out how we create cheap & easy hands for some of our Halloween props.
Give A Hand to Your Monster
Now with that out of the way; often times in the past we’ve not had enough time or money to finish off a monster prop with a decent pair of hands. Sometimes shirt or jacket sleeves were just left hanging or an empty pair of old work gloves were used. Now we’re not saying that hanging sleeves or empty work gloves can’t be used – we simple feel that a creature’s creep factor increases the more frightening its hands are. That being said, we always keep an eye out for good deals on creepy latex monster hands because we like to use them in our front line characters. You know, the ones who get up close and personal with the trick or treaters. However as an alternative to store bought prop hands we often create our own homemade latex monster hands and you‘re not going to believe how easy it is.
Latex Gloves and Witch Fingers
We start with a few pairs of cheap latex gloves, the regular kind used for common household chores. The next must have item for this Halloween project are those cheap plastic “Witch’s Fingers” which you can buy anywhere and come in different colors & styles.
The first thing we do is turn the glove inside out. 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 Joins the Monster Arm Bone
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. 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 but we simply drill or poke a hole in the finger and slide the wire through. Then bend the wire into a hook and then slide the finger back up into the hook of the bent wire.
The Monster Mash . . . Ur, Foam
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. 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. This stuff is so sticky the only way you can clean it up is with acetone when its wet and a sander when its dry. We DO NOT want to get this in our 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.
It is hard not to overfill the gloves but we try not to because we end up with really fat puffy hands, so sometimes it is necessary to cut the glove to relieve some of the expanding foam.
This is all messy and the fumes are terrible so we think it is a good idea to always work with foam outside.
Because the expanding foam is inside a latex glove it takes quite awhile to cure. Often this can take as much as 2 to 3 days and because the foam keeps on expanding sometimes we need to “bleed off” excess foam expansion more than once.
After the foam has all cured into a harden mass we can take our pile of hands and paint them.
Painting Your Monster’s Hands – Not Just Nail Polish!
First we draw some detail lines on the hands with a black marker or any color that is going to work with the creature the hands will belong to. Then we spray paint them the color(s) we need then to be and viola a pair of monster hands are ready!
As you can see, we are not artists by any stretch so we just do our best and have fun with it because that’s what’s its all about anyways, isn‘t? Our favourite mantra is “Everything looks good in low light!“
There are lots of variations you can do with this cheap and easy 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!
So 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 & Happy Haunting!
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