This project was light on preconception. I mostly made it up as I went along. Strap in, kids, this is going to be a bumpy ride!
Step 1: Get Some (stuff)
needles, stickpins, strong thread, scissors, treated canvas, wire, and duct tape. And paint, of course.
The first thing to do was decide the general size of the hands that I wanted, and cut them out. I added a couple of other hunks of foam to rough out the shape of the palm, but that turned out not to be really necessary. Bear with me, we will figure this out as we go along.
Step 2: Hand to Hand
Step 3: Flex Your Muscles!
So, first I wrapped strips of duct tape around the foam fingers, to make a surface that I could use for anchoring my strings. Then I took small loops of metal wire to make eyelets on all of the foam fingers, and also to make eyelets on the fingers of the real gloves.
I ran string between the glove fingers and the foam fingers, then gathered them in the middle and fastened them with another wire... this has the effect of ensuring that the fingers fold in toward the center when pulled.
Here, it also became quite clear that I would need to add some stiff reinforcement to the foam hand, and a couple arcs of cardboard (affixed with duct tape, of course) did the trick just fine. In the pictures, you can see how the fingers work.
If you decide to tackle a project like this, you'll need to experiment with the best place to anchor your strings, how long they should be, etc. It will all depend on the size of your hands, the size of the foam fingers, the flexibility of the foam, and the distance between the real glove and the monster fingers. Be prepared for a bit of trial and error until you find what works best for you!
Step 4: Finger Me
Once again, if I was a real seamstress I probably would have taken some care with this, but I'm not. And also, they're monster hands so it doesn't much matter if they're ugly.
Essentially, I laid the hands on the back of the canvas and roughly traced them with a Sharpie, leaving plenty of room for foldover, and lots of extra arm room so I could run them up to my elbows. The tricky part here is figuring out where to leave extra canvas around the fingers, because you'll need to be able to wrap the sides. I basically left an extra flap for the fingertips, and for the sides of the thumb and outside fingers, on the canvas for the back of the hand. On the canvas for the palm of the hand, I left an extra flap of canvas for the middle finger area. This ensured that there was plenty of skin to go around, and it can always be trimmed down later.
I cut out the hunk of canvas for each side of each hand, then I used stick-pins to pin them down. This is wear you start to see exacty how much canvas you really need, and you can cut away the excess.
Since beauty was not a factor for me, and I don't own any automated stitching devices, I sewed the canvas by hand. It took a really long time.
Step 5: Suicidal Tendons, See?
Hands, unlike pieces of couch foam, have lots of wiggly bits inside of them. Here I made knobby knuckles out of cardboard, and stiff tendon shapes out of rolled-up newspapers, and duct taped them to the inside.
Step 6: Green Sleeves
The idea is to have big monster arms that reach all the way up to my real-life elbows, and what that means is, I need to stuff these bad boys full of polyester fiberfill to make them huge and Popeyesque.
My first step was to sacrifice an ugly shirt, so I picked the green one because it's slick and I like the lining on the collar. That doesn't make sense, but there you go.
I stitched the sleeve of the shirt to the cuff of the gardening glove, and then stitched the canvas up around that. This dual-layer sleeving system allows for ample stuffing of fiberfill into the void between them!
Step 7: Puffy Knuckles and Soft Soft Nails
The goal here is just to add texture, which will be emphasized with the paint-job later.
As for the nails, it's the same principle. I guaged the sizes that I wanted and cut out a dual layer of canvas for each nail... these were then hand-stitched, sewed to the fingertips and stuffed just like little pillows.
Step 8: Paint Job: the Early Years
(Except the fingernails, of course. Those are glossy black. Duh.)
Step 9: The End, My Friend
Following the initial coat, it's just a matter of painting these boys up the same way I did the Horror Head. Using brushes, fingertips and pieces of sponge to mottle the surface, enhance the highlights and lowlights, and generally give them the look of actual skin (to whatever extent that is possible).
The movement of the fingers is impaired, but they do move. Not much. But a little. Enough to make the hands seem like more than dead weight, anyway, and that's good enough for me.
Some advice that I have learned along the way:
If you want to do something similar, but you want to have greater movement of your prosthetic fingers, make them really long. If you make them really long, you'll get a wider arc of motion and they will be less affected by the deadening effect when you sew the skin around them.
Also, when you anchor your strings/wires to the gloves (the real ones, the ones that have your actual fingers in them) you will want to attach them in front of the pads of your fingers, not on the tips.
All in all, I think this was a very successful attempt, done with no pattern, no sewing machine and hardly any planning. The real proof, though, will be in how well it all comes together once the costume is finished!