Halloween is on the way! It's one of my favorite holidays, and I can never have too many decorations. Good thing it's also so much fun to design and make Halloween projects too!
I figure an extra skeleton hand around the house is a great addition for this year's party, and since it's poseable it can be used in many different ways.
To make a skeleton hand & arm like this one you'll need:
Creative Paperclay® modeling material
18 gauge wire
sandpaper, and/or files Sandits sanding sticks are also helpful
coffee filters (other paper may be used, but I recommend using the filters)
- I used Delta Ceramcoat black, walnut, burnt umber, magnolia white, spice tan
|skeleton pattern free pdf file|
reference material - if you don't have any "on hand" gather some from the web or library;
- do an image search for "human skeleton hand and arm bones" and print out the images you think will be most helpful. Try to get views from all different sides.
- artist's books are sometimes more helpful than medical books when it comes to sculpting reference, with the exception of the classic "Gray's Anatomy". Some good examples of art source books are: "Anatomy" by Walter T. Foster, and "An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists" by Fritz Schider.
Print hand and arm patterns and begin creating armature by bending wire around hand pattern as shown. Try to keep the wires flat and right next to each other, not twisted together. This configuration will help prevent the finger bones from twisting sideways accidentally.
Once the wire is bent, wrap with strips of coffee filter - start at the ends of the fingers, hold the strip at an angle and apply some white glue. Fold the top of the filter over the end of the finger, then start wrapping the strip around the double wires. Again, try to keep the wires flat and as close together as possible without overlapping or twisting.
Paint the wrapped wire black.
Next glue the hand pattern to a piece of thin cardboard, then use your craft knife to cut out the sections outlined in red (on the pattern in the photos there are red sections for the fingertips as well - they are not in the pdf pattern for this project because I realized they aren't necessary)
Put the pieces back in place on the cardboard, then add a line of glue along the center section of each of the pieces you cut out. Carefully lay your wire armature on top of the pattern/sections and press into place. Allow it to dry, then lift it out from the pattern. It should come out like this.
For the arm bones, print out the pattern and create another wrapped wire armature as shown. You can also use a heavier gauge wire if you choose.
Glue this pattern to corrugated cardboard with the "grain" or corrugation peaks running across the pattern (scroll down to side view showing the wire bending step). Next cut out the red sections and follow the same process to apply the wire as you did for the hand, then glue the arm and hand armatures together making sure to leave enough space for wrist movement.
When the glue is dry, bend the wires in the arm bones (the radius and ulna bones) to show their placement according to your reference material. You will also need to bend and cup the large end of the ulna to form the "cup" shape where the bone creates the joint with the upper arm, which is why there is no wire in that end of the armature.
When the cardboard and wire are in the desired position, add a layer of clay along the top and sides. Push the clay into the corrugated sections to fill the cardboard completely. Allow the clay to dry.
Add a thin layer of clay to both sides of the finger and wrist bones and allow that to dry also.
Using pliers, twist the double wires at the base of the thumb so that it points towards the hand rather than lays flat with the other fingers.
From this point on, it is just a matter of adding a layer of clay at a time and sculpting according to your reference. I suggest building up the hand by starting with the wrist bones, then moving on to the fingers. Sculpt the bone nearest the wrist on one finger and allow it to dry so that you can fit the bone next to it perfectly onto the dry clay. You can sculpt the fingertips, etc. while waiting for the larger bones to dry. Move around the bones shaping the joints by first allowing one end of the joint to dry, then forming the other side of the joint over that one with fresh clay, leaving only a small amount of space for the joint to move. When both sides of the joint are dry, if necessary you can slide a folded piece of sandpaper in between the bones and sand until the joint moves freely.
Remember that with Creative Paperclay® you can sand, re-wet, and add more clay throughout the process and as many times as necessary - have fun, take your time, and you will be amazed with the results! If desired, add a few thin washes of dark colors to enhance the recesses, and a few touches of thinned white paint for highlights. Use tan, browns & black washes after the first have dried to age the bones as desired.
I'd love for you to join me for more projects & art adventures on my personal blog