How to Mold and Cast Your Hand! Lifecasting a Hand with Alginate and Plaster

The first thing I always grab when walking into my shop is my hearing protection. I personal wear bluetooth OSHA compliant ISOtunes. I have two models I toggled back and forth between, the Pro version with a memory wire, and the Xtra version without. Both hang around my neck when not in use but then at the end of the day I normally just toss them down on whatever surface I’m closest to. Which means in the morning I have to go on a hunt to find them. The best way to fix constantly loosing something is to make a home for it so in today’s video I’m going to be doing just that. 

I could have just put a hook on the wall, but how boring. Instead, I thought it would be funny to have a hand coming out the wall in the classic Rock On hand symbol (since my ISOtunes allow me to jam to music while in my shop). This is a casting of my actual hand and it’s called livecasting. Let me show you the process.  

Things I Used in This Project:
ISOtunes Pro: http://amzn.to/2pEjNtv
ISOtunes Xtra: https://amzn.to/30UmGGu
Perfect Mold Alginate: https://amzn.to/2WBWdhA
Perfect Cast: https://amzn.to/2YYqiW6
Titebond Thick & Quick: https://amzn.to/2KflUe0
Krylon Spray Paint Stone: https://amzn.to/2Km1Daj
Chrome Spray Paint: https://amzn.to/2MsQS8q
Portable Workbench: https://amzn.to/2QEQCSw

This project does make a mess and since I anticipated that, I set up a workstation of two plastic portable workbench tables. I grabbed a pail of water, some small plastic trash cans and some mixers to throw in a drill. However, lesson learned! Don’t use the mixers. They must mix the ingredients together too quickly as the mixers ruined my first batch.

I went with these trashcans because of the hand shape I was going after. I wanted a bent wrist on my cast. I needed something that gave my hand room at the angle I wanted it to cast. So figure out the hand shape you’re going with first, then find a container that fits. 

Now there are two common mold materials. One is silicone and the other is alginate, which uses algae as its main ingredient. Alginate the one I’m using.

I followed the mixing instructions to mix together an amount that I thought would cover my hand in the container. The ingredients are the powder of the alginate and water. I measured out the water first, then poured the powder in on top then stirred really well. 

When I formed my hand shape, I made sure not to leave any space between my fingers and my palm. I tucked my fingers and this will make the cast stronger. 

I plunged my hand all the way in until I touched the bottom of the can and then pulled my hand back up about 1/2”. Then I just sat and let it start hardening.

One benefit to using Alginate is its fast set time. You only have to wait about 5 mins before the contents are ready for your hand to be removed. When it was time to pull out my hand, I started to gentle wiggle my hand and fingers until I felt the mold material letting loose. Then I just pulled my hand out. 

Now you can’t see really, but at this point I have a mold of my rock on hand shape and it’s time to pour in the plaster to make a cast.

You’ll want to immediately start the process for pouring in your plaster. It’s just as simple as the alginate mixing, where you follow the mixing ratios of the provided powder with water.

I once again started off with the measured amount of water then stired in the powder. Make sure you mix this together enough to get the lumps out.

Once it had a good consistancy, I poured some into the alginate mold.

I didn’t fill it up immediately though, I poured in just enough to get into the fingers, then I rotated the container around to try and make sure the plaster was coating all the fingers without getting an air bubble trapped. Then I filled it up the rest of the way. 

The next step is to try and get as many of the air bubbles out a possible. You can kinda shake the container, but I grabbed my small sawzall without a blade, and used it to gently vibrate out the bubbles. 

Then last thing I did before leaving it alone to set up was to grab a lag bolt and insert it into the wrist, threads facing out. When it drys I’ll have a way to thread it into my wall. You can see I just threaded it into a piece of wood, centered it, then rested it across the top of the mold. 

Skip ahead one hour and the mold and cast are ready!

I flipped my container upside down to drop the mold then used a knife to tear into it and release my hand. Alginate is used for one time molds, so I wasn’t worried about preserving the mold. 

I found it insane how much detail the cast had in it. Wrinkles, veins, and finger prints. It’s really crazy.

Now you can see on the top of mine that I have small holes from not getting out all the little air bubbles. I did it a few times and was never able to 100% get rid of these, so my fix was to fill them in before painting.

For the small ones on top I used a thick and quick setting glue from Titebone called Thick and Quick. I chose this one because it’s a white glue and not yellow. You can see that it takes just a small amount to fill in all those small little holes.

Then for other imperfections, like where the bolt head was slightly poking through, I covered with joint compound then blended in with some sanding. Also, if you have a few bumps of plaster on your cast, they are simple enough to pop off with a razor blade. 

Not only is this a fun project, but it’s also incredibly quick to complete. I let my hands set up over night before applying a coat of paint to them. You can of course leave them raw or pick any color of your liking but I went with a stone color on one, and a chrome metal color on another. The stone color is my favorite but it does hide a lot of the details such as the finger prints. The chrome definitely highlights them so just consider what you want when choosing your paint. 

To hang the hands I predrilled into my wall then threaded them on. Now something I would recommend changing: I would use an eyelet instead of a lag bolt so the plaster has more surface to grab hold of the hardware. I noticed that the bolt easily broke loose from the plaster after a bit of turning. 

And there we are! A pretty cool, maybe a little freaky, but dedicated spot I can hang my ISOtunes at the end of the day and go right to them at the start of the next. 

Even if you don’t want a rock on hand ISOtunes holder, you can take this idea and do so many other things with it… such as a funny drill holder…

Or a backpack hanger…

Or even a sweet cast of holding hands with somebody you love, which is what my parents asked to do when they saw my project on Instagram. Can they get any cuter? 

That’s it for this one guys, I hope that you enjoyed learning about the process and you have fun casting if you tackle this project.

I’ll see you on the next project! 

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