Creepy paper maché hands for my ghost costume
Published by Manning on October 20th, 2016
I made these creepy hands for my “guy being strangled by a ghost” costume! (Article about that whole thing coming soon.) You could use this same method for posable, realistic hands for any kind of monster decoration: a witch, a vampire, a zombie, etc!
First, I traced my own hand onto a sheet of craft foam (aka Wonderfoam). I kept my thumb stretched way out since ultimately I wanted these hands to be in a strangling position around my neck.
I then modified the drawing to make the fingers thin and bony — basically just leaving the knuckles the same width but making the spaces between the knuckles skinnier. I cut out this hand and traced it three more times.
I used thin steel wire in the hands to make the fingers stiff and flexible. Before adding the wire, I covered one of my craft foam hands (one that’s not yet cut out) in clear packing tape. Then I cut the pieces of wire for the fingers and laid them in place. Then I covered the wires with a second layer of packing tape. Having the wires in between two sheets of tape will help keep them locked in place, so they don’t shift to the sides and stick out of the sides of the fingers. With the second layer of tape in place, I used the back end of a butter knife to press down the tape right all along the wires, to help lock the wires in place even more.
Then I used scissors to cut out the copy of the craft foam hand with the wires in it. I laid my first copy of hand in place over top of the one with the wires, and started taping the layers together with masking tape. I wrapped the tape around the skinny parts of the fingers very tightly, and left the wider knuckle parts alone — it’ll all get covered over with paper maché later.
Once the two layers of craft foam were taped firmly together, I started to bend the fingers a little by pinching them at the joints and gently bending each digit inward a bit. Note: the fingers remain very flexible before you add the paper maché (coming up) and you can adjust them easily, but once you add the paper maché and let it dry, you won’t be able to move them very much. So figure out what position you want the fingers to be in before you apply the paper maché.
I added some bones and padding in the back of the hands using some leftover scraps of foam pipe insulation tubing, and covered them in tape. I also used a few snippets of leftover craft foam to help make the bone shapes. A few layers of masking tape smooths out the distinct edges of the foam.
Then I carefully applied one layer of paper maché over both hands, using very small, thin strips of brown wrapping paper, aka craft paper. See my article about my paper maché method and materials here. Getting the paper to lay nice and smooth all around those bony fingers takes a good deal of patience. The nice thing about working on monsters is that it’s usually fine if some areas are a little ragged or wrinkled or ugly. I took my time and everything came out pretty good.
That’s it for the hands! These were a lot of fun. Coming soon: the rest of my ghost victim costume!