A while back a friend of mine asked me if I could help him builda replica of Han Solo encased in carbonite to hang on the wall in his basement bar (which he'd themed to look like the throne room of Jabba the Hutt).  So I told him I'd look into it and see what's involved.  While I was sitting in the cafe one morning, poring over photos of the original prop, my friend Jenny wandered in and asked what I was doing.  

So I told her.

"Can you really make that?" she asks.

"Sure," says I, "it's actually not such a big deal."

"Does it have to be Han Solo?" says she.

"No," I replied, "it's actually easier if it's someone who can come into the workshop for lifecasting.  That'll save me the trouble of finding or sculpting a copy of Harrison Ford's face."

"What if it was me?" says she.

The conversation ended with her gleefully agreeing to come to the workshop and put in all of the labor and pay for all of the materials required to make the project possible.  My role was to provide parts and technical advice.

Here's a picture of the finished product.  For more information on how it was made, read on...  

Step 1: Lifecasting Hands

In order to make an exact duplicate of someone's hand, the easiest (or at least cheapest) thing to use is called Dental Alginate.  This is a seaweed-based product used by dentists to take impressions of teeth and gums in order to make dentures or retainers or the like.  

The material itself is sold in a powdered form.  To use it, you mix it with water and it turns into a gooey mess with about the same viscosity as ketchup.  After a few minutes, it hardens into a rubbery solid.  It's safe to use in direct skin contact, and you can control how fast it cures by changing the temperature of the water that you mix it with.  Warmer = faster.

In order to make a copy of a hand, you mix up a batch of alginate in a bucket big enough to give you at least half an inch of clearance all the way around the appendage in question.  Then you stick your hand into the bucket, wiggle it around to work the bubbles away from your skin, assume whatever pose you want the duplicate to have, and wait until the alginate solidifies.

Here's a shot of Jenn
y showing us what her hand looks like:

After mixing up a batch of alginate, I had her insert said hand.  Here she is waiting for set-up time:
Hand Molding


Once the alginate has solidified, you need to gently remove the hand by wiggling and twisting and pulling until you break the vacuum and you can slide out.


Here's Jenny wiggling (always a fun thing to watch): Hand Removal 


Once she'd slid her hand out, this was the hole that was left behind:

Hand Mold Hole 

The little bumps you see on the left side of the hole are the pores in her skin.  The alginate picks up every fine detail.  So much so, that the resultant castings will actually have fingerprints that are identical to hers.


The one drawback to alginate is that, once it cures, it will shrink as the moisture dries out of it.  So it's important to pour the casting as soon as possible.  In this case I used black casting resin:Pouring Resin 2

During the pour, you have to tip the mold down toward the fingertip side in order to let any trapped bubbles out: Pouring Resin 


Once the resin sets up, it's a simple matter of breaking apart the alginate and getting the cast resin piece out: Pulling Hand Cast 

The result: a plastic hand identical to the original: Extra Hand 


If you're making this same project at home, you need to repeat these steps as necessary for the number of hands your model has.

Great project, but you shouldn't use straws in the nose, although unlikely think what would happen if you knocked a straw up the nose. As a FX artist and Association of Life Casters International member I always see where there could be a potential health and safety problem. Even the best in the FX world make sure to have an assistant for facial lifecasts, someone whose only job is to keep the nostrils clear, another hint is to make sure you arrange hand signals with your model so you can check as you go along that they are still OK. Dental alginate is great but people with sensitive skin may have a reaction to the menthol thats added so its better to use something like Mouldlife alginate or Tiranti's as these have nothing perfumed added.
We had the top end of the straws pretty thoroughly wrapped with gauze to make sure it wasn't going anywhere, but I see your concern. <br> <br>Also, I neglected to mention it, but we had a couple of emergency signals worked out in advance. For calmer, more nuanced communications, I had her close her eyes and try writing with a paper and pencil before we started. Turns out she could write legibly while blinded, so she had a clipboard and pencil on her lap throughout the face casting process.
Cool, I did see that but just wanted to mention it for anyone who has never done it before - i'm of the mind that if you think of anything that can go wrong even the most unlikely things and plan for it, it will never be a problem. <br> <br>That's great as well that you thought of your models safety and did hand signals/blind writing. <br> <br>And I really do love the project :)
<p>Some people have waaaaaaay too much time on their hands. Awesome work!</p>
I also like this instructable!<br>Jenny you have very beautiful pores. And a glowing persona!<br>Thorssoli, you have a lovely assistant. <br>It has been years gone by apparently? What is Jenny doing now days?
<p>Very interesting . Where would one buy dental alginate ?. Anyone else know of a liquid plastic which is as resilient as polyprop (2) and can be cast in a mold like this . Preferably fast setting . I want to replicate remote control buttons . They seem to be made out of a rubbery substance that goes tacky and perishes after a year or two . </p>
<p>Not only was this a <strong>fabulous</strong> project... but it was a really great read too... I love your sense of humor! And... very educational... I would have done the whole body lifecast, used Ultracal, etc... your method was much simpler with the expanding urethane. Very nicely done! And... you managed to teach Jenny about power tools and lived to tell the tale. (<em>grin</em>)</p>
<p>Is that a nipple? :)</p>
I love this instructable!!! Ive been a member of instructables.com for a number of years... and this is my first comment.<br><br>I am sooooo sick of reading unbelievable instructables such as this one - with 80+ percent of the comments being either hasty psuedo science (&quot;toxins/harmful/blah blah blah&quot;) or those arguing against them. No comment aside from &quot;wow&quot; should be tolerated in this post.
<p>Well Done! Great Instructable.</p>
<p>THIS IS AWESOME!!! This was posted three years ago, and I am just now seeing this!?!?!?!? </p><p>Fantastic pictures, narration, and instructions!!! </p>
<p>Absolutely brilliant</p>
I'm not seeing any photos :(
<p>exelente ,very good !</p>
That is awesome but what would that cost for one of us normal folks without all the goodies to work with i seen a bunch of gnome statues in the background i presume you make fiberglass things for a living ? what would the cost of that project be ?
Cost for this project? One sheet of MDF, about a gallon of casting resin (two gallons costs around $120 or so), a few ounces of expanding foam, one dress, and a handful of LEDs.<br><br>You could probably use less than $500 in materials.<br><br>The gnomes are one of the many things I make. You can find them in my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/thorssoli
Can you make a gnome with a metal detector in his hands you could make a mint with those in the metal detecting communities !
I do: https://www.etsy.com/listing/117100186/combat-garden-gnome-minesweeper-with?
<p>Link doesn't work... perhaps you have discontinued this particular model?</p><p>Oh, and FRICKEN AWESOME job on the girl in a box... ermm... was that an oxymoron?</p>
Cool i make concrete statues <br> <br>Thats not to bad a price to build one i might try it sure would be neet to hang one of these from the ceiling lol <br> <br>I'll check out your etsy site thanks
<p>Amazing Hand :) this looks great handmade project :)</p>
<p>This is really awesome... Thank you for sharing this! And... Great explanation too :)</p>
<p>GREAT !!!</p>
<p>You two have some super talent but more important than that is you're willingness to actually make things happen with that talent!</p><p>...Great work</p>
As an ancient 'writer/craftswoman' I admire your wonderful creativity, combined with a talent for expressing yourself in words! What a fun person you must be... never grow up! At almost 90 I still don't know what I want to be when (if) I grow up.
<p>Hope you know what want to be and you could grow up many many years <br>more!<br> I just now with only 34 (but I say I have 25 since 2006 'cause people <br>really thinks I am that way) know what I want and I don't got it yet <br>'cause I need to find the correct way and the correct people. By now I <br>want to start my own project of me in Carbonite. Hold on! You seems to <br>be an incredible person!</p>
Keep having fun. If I can see it I can build it. Some of the kids from High School cannot get over that I still do all of the projects I did in High School. I found out what I like to do for fun and I still do it. So keep it up. I am 51 but people think I am 40.
What kind of resin did you use? Is it polyester, urethane, or something else?
Awesome, thanks. Urethane for both the black and clear/white resin?
<p>Hi all, sory for ressurrect this topic but I have some questions due I want to do my own project (Jabba is searching me and a bald and white version of Lando betrayed me!) and maybe if not the autor somebody else could help:<br>1. Which kind of wood did you used? Is very heavy to hang on a wall? Could be done without tappering? I mean, I see it on the movies and seems to be made all in 90 degrees.<br>2. How many alignate and resin did you need? And plaster? Is the resin very hard to be sawed and sanded?</p><p>3.- Have anybody the blueprints of the electrical panel? And the blueprints of the box in centimeters and/or without tappering?</p><p>All help would be so appreciated, sorry if something is already answered but I am looking in several posts and forums and I don't know if I overlooked something.<br>BTW what was the total amount if I can ask?<br>Thanks all in advance and I apologize for my horrible english.</p>
<p>by the way you are getting great work out of your shop.</p>
<p>*amazing I feel like an idoit.</p>
<p>I love your props they are amazin.</p>
This is awesome, great job!
<p>this is going to be one of the first projects I do when I get to college this fall lol<br><br>gonna be epic<br><br>(this should have posted a hour ago but I got logged out somehow and didnt notice :P)</p>
<p> This is fantastic and I look forward to making one myself. Someone as lovely as Jenny needs to be immortalized in carbonite :)</p>
do another for me but with the real han solo :)
Has to be one of the best Instructable of all time. Genius. Live how you painted it. Looks so industrial!
What brand of resin did you use? I am new to lifecasting and I heard that some resins can bubble in an alginate mold.
Wow. Just wow.
This is undoubtedly, one of the coolest instructables I've ever seen but, I have one problem with it. According to the flicker photo stream on this project, it was done from 11/21/12 to 12/29/12. It seems unfair to have it in a &quot;weekend projects&quot; contest if it took a month (5 weeks actually) to make.
The only reason it took that long is because I had Jenny doing the labor herself. She'd come by for a few hours on a weeknight, disappear for three weeks, then come by for a few more hours, then disappear for a while.<br><br>Every time she'd stop by, I'd spend half an hour explaining what needed to be done, another hour watching to make sure she didn't set fire to my workshop, and over the course of the next two hours she'd get about half an hour's worth of work done. <br><br>Starting on a Friday evening with all of the raw materials on hand, I have no doubt that a reasonably skilled helper and I could remake this project by that Sunday night.
Giggly jokes. You had to go there... You model seemed to enjoy the process. I find it nice when people participate with the 'expert' to create something. A lot more pride in the finished project. Not sure about the smiling face on the final. Isn't it hilarious to be cast in Carbonite? <br>Man, what a project. The ending color is fantastic. I'm going to follow your work, ey!
Here is a UNIQUE CHALLANGE for you creative types! Here is the goal, How do I accomplish it?: My husband wants a &quot;custom&quot; Figurehead of me to put on the bow of our boat. I was thinking of trying to contact some wood carver, but this posting gave me some ideas. How could I get a face/bust replica that would be permanent and hold up sailing in high seas? Thanks in advance for any ideas and leads...
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the weekend projects contest!! I'm rooting for you, really LOVE this project!
&quot;Here's a shot of Jenny showing us what her hand looks like:&quot; <br>Translation: Here's a shot of Jenny showing all the available men how single she is: <br>LOL <br>Great project by the way. I read it when it was first posted but found my way back here again so I could link it to a friend.
This is awesome.
Not bad results, However, you might try this in the Future, <br>Have your Victim Wear a Form Fitting One Piece Swimsuit, Over a Pair of PANTYHOSE. <br>This will give you a Great Cast of the Full body, With Half the Effort &amp; Time, Not to mention the Cost.

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Bio: I'm a wayward sailor lost in the midst of all manner of tinkering. When I was a kid I learned that the way to ... More »
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