home
gallery
past work
the artist
eBay
links

 

HAND TUTORIAL

We all know what a challenge it can be to sculpt hands. I hope you find this tutorial helpful in creating realistic hands for your sculpture. I prefer to sculpt the hands separately and attach to the sculpture after baking. It is much easier to sculpt the fine detail and avoid damage to the fingers or sculpture before baking.

Good luck! And feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

(The hands created in this tutorial are for sculptures measuring between 8" to 12" but the technique can be applied to larger or smaller dolls by using a different sized gage (GA.) of wire.)

MATERIALS NEEDED:

Sobo glue, white floral tape, 32 GA. white cloth wire, 26 GA. silver wire, polymer clay (I use ProSculpt), sculpting tools, wire cutters.

 

Step 1: Start by cutting 6 pieces of white floral cloth wire (32 GA.). (Three wires for each hand.)

Step 2: Two of the wires should be about 1/4" shorter than the other four. You will be left with 4 larger pieces that are 2 1/2" long and 2 smaller pieces that are 2 1/4" long.

 
 

Step 3: Cover each cloth wire with Sobo glue (or a similar type of glue. I prefer Sobo because it is a good quality glue that dries quickly). Covering the cloth wire with the glue keeps the cloth from freying on the ends and provides a sticky surface for the polymer clay.

Step 4: Once the glue has dried, twist 2 of the larger pieces together, as shown in the photo above (fold wires in half, then give each wire a twist).

 
 

Step 5: Twist the third smaller wire into the piece you created in Step 4. This may require a few twists to make sure it is tight. Notice I have left a short end sticking out. This will become the thumb. Choose one of the longer piecees of wire to be part of the wrist.

You can start to see the hand taking shape.

 
 

Step 6: This is the trickier part! Wrap each wire around each other, one at a time, going under and over and in between until you create the shape of the hand. The twisted portion, as you can see, is going to be the palm.

Repeat the same steps with your remaining 3 wires to create the other hand.

Step 7: Trim the fingers down to the appropriate length for your doll (be careful not to cut too short). It helps to examine your own hand to estimate the length of the fingers in proximity to each other. You will see that the middle finger is the longest, the first finger and ring finger are approximately the same length and the pinky is the shortest, coming up to the top joint of the ring finger. The thumb length stops just between the knuckle and bottom joint of the first finger.

 
 

Step 8: Use 26 GA. silver wire for this step. Insert the wire into a space between the wires of the "palm," as close to the center as possible. Push it all the way through so that at least 1.5 inches is sticking through and the longer piece is on the other side. You will cut this down later, but keep it long for now because it works well as a "handle" while you sculpt the fingers. You can also use the extra wire to wrap around the forearm of your sculpture later on.

Step 9: Twist and wrap the silver wire around the white floral wire to create a stronger support for the wrist.

Repeat steps 8 & 9 on the other hand.

 
 

Use white floral tape for the next step.

Step 10: Gentley stretch and wrap the floral tape around the palm, wrist, and in between the fingers. I usually cut the floral tape into thin strips to do this so that it is easier to wrap around the tiny palm and fingers. Do the same to the other hand and then coat with Sobo glue to create a stickier base for the clay. Set aside to dry.

 
 

Step 11: Now we can apply the clay!!! I am a huge fan of ProSculpt and it is my clay of choice. I have worked with all types of polymer clays and ProScupt is my favorite, especially when making fingers over wires. It doesn't crack and blends very nicely.

Using just a small amount of clay, about the size of a small pea, flatten and then wrap around the first finger. I work from the first finger out to the pinky and save the thumb for last. Smooth out the finger so that it coats the wire and is not too thick.

Step 12: Shape each finger before moving on to the next one. It is good to know how you want your fingers positioned before you work on this step. The wire should bend easily, and you may "mess up" the clay a little, but this can easily be fixed. This requires a little patience. You might find it helpful to use one of your favorite tools to help create the shape you want. I use a sharp metal tool to help me smooth out the imperfections that occur when you bend the joints.

 
   

Step 13: This is the same photo as the last one, taken from a different angle. As I mentioned before, examine your own hand to help with the fine details of the fingers. You will notice many fine details such as the shape and width of the knuckles, veins and bones. How detailed you want your hand is up to you. The more detail you add, the more realistic it will be.

   
     
Photography by Lynne Grubb. Please request permission from the artist if you wish to copy images from this site. Thank you.