I’ve had this DIY on my mind since July when I first spotted it on Pinterest. Plaster hands contorted in awkward claws and holding candles. – perfect for my Halloween decor! This DIY is not wholly original, I found the original project on Martha Stewart // here // – so full credit to her. I had originally intended to recreate them and then just style them differently, but at the last minute I decided to add some gemstones and rings. I didn’t quite like the grey on the hands, and thought they could use some colour. Now, adorned with precious gems and heirloom rings passed down from one spooky generation to another, the grave robbed hands are making an appearance in my Halloween decor.
Disclaimer: Depending on what kit you purchased to use for this, you’ll want to read the instructions carefully. The following instructions are based off the ones that came with the kit I purchased. Sadly, you cannot buy alginate powder easily in Canada (at least not the dental kind), so buying a kit is not only handy, but kind of the only way that I could find.
*The following product links contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the brands that make PMQ for two possible.
- Darice Precious Impressions Memory Hands Keepsake Kit (includes the moulding gel and plaster)
- Large bowls
- Measuring cups
- Black and white paint – or your favourite shade of grey
- Fun Express – Jumbo 1″ Assorted Adhesive Jewels (1-Pack of 100)
- Gorilla Super Glue Gel, 15 g
This DIY really happens in two distinct steps. The first is where you make the hands per the instructions in your kit, and the second is where you paint and adorn them.
Part 1: Making the plaster hands
Step 1: Lay-out everything you’ll need. There isn’t much time between mixing the powder and plunging your hands into it, so it’s best if everything is nearby.
Step 2: Mix the alginate powder and water per the specifications. It said I needed really cold water, so I let the tap run for a minute to make sure I got the cold stuff. They said that the mixture will remain kind of lumpy, even if you’re mixing it well, kind of like cake batter.
When it starts to turn pink, pour it into the tub you’ll be using. You only have a few second before it starts to solidify, albeit slowly.
Step 3: Hopefully you’ve done this beforehand, but determine what shapes you want your hands to be. I wanted one to hold a candle, and one like a claw! Keep in mind that both hands have to fit in the tub you use, they can’t touch the wall of the tub, or each other. You need separate and distinct molds so that when you pour the plaster you end up with two pieces.
*Mind the potato photo, I had DH taking these while my hands were immersed in goo.
Step 4: You’ll have placed your hands into a pinkish mixture – kind of like Pepto – and it will slowly turn grey while it hardens. Our instructions said it would take 3 minutes, but it was closer to 5-8 minutes. Once it’s solid, remove your hands! I found it relatively easy. You may need someone to hold the tub while you pull your hands out.
Step 5: Mix the plaster per the instructions and gently ladle it into the mold. Pick-up the tub and gently drop it on the counter every couple of ladles – you’re trying to release any air bubbles that may have formed. Otherwise you’ll end up with holes in your hands.
Step 6: Let ‘er sit for 24hrs.
Step 7: Once 24hrs have passed, flip the tub upside down and let the block slide down. Some water may come with it, so put a towel done! It’s water from the gel and from the plaster as they hardened. Nothing to worry about.
Step 8: Start cutting away – very carefully – at the gel until the hands are revealed. It’s kind of like an archeology dig, slowly peeling and scratching back wobbly bits of gel.
Step 9: if your cast broke at some point and your hands are fused together at some point, wait an extra day before using a dremel tool to separate them.
Once they’re free they should look like this
Part 2: Decorating your plaster hands
Step 1: My instruction packet said to wait a week before “sealing” the hands as the plaster would continue to dry out, so I waited a while and you should too.
Step 2: Mix a paint colour, or just pick one! I mixed some cool white with a dark black and got an almost icy grey colour. I think it looks super un-natural – which is the whole point, I mean, this hand be dead.
Step 3: Once you’ve applied one or two coats to your hands, bust out the gems!
Step 4: Place gemstones in patterns and combinations you would see in a store. I placed large ones with small ones, stacked some, and made clusters for others. These hands are filthy rich!
I used gorilla super clue to attach them to the plaster. Like many of my more tedious steps, I put a podcast on and work away.
Step 5: Using some gold (or silver) paint, add a band to your gemstones to complete the illusion of rings! I need two coats.
Step 6: Style away! Like with previous seasonal decor, I’ve created the projects and styled them on their own, but you’ll see them all in my final Halloween tour near the end of the month.