A Literal Handbag




Introduction: A Literal Handbag

About: Indie game developer, illustrator, comicker, costumer, sword/spoon fighter, Viking enthusiast & wears many hats

Do you want to dress up as a zombie, mad scientist, or drag queen with a passion for hands, but your costume has no pockets? Why not make the prefect prop and/or accessory - a new bag that can hold a handful of items! Perfect for digital devices, it's something you can surely nail making if you follow this tutorial and you can high-five yourself afterwards.


Supplies you'll need!

  • Hollow rubber/latex hand. Ideally one big enough for your "stuff"

(I got mine at Dollarama. You can find them in dollar stores in October, in Halloween/costume supply stores, or online. The one I bought had stuffing in it, which I removed from the bulk of the hand but left in the fingers)

If you need to make the hand bigger (to accommodate phone/wallet) you'll also need:

  • liquid latex
  • makeup sponges
  • pins
  • elastic bands
  • plasticine/oil-based clay
  • scissors
  • long curved plastic container (like a stacked-chip tube)
  • cellophane
  • hot glue gun with hot glue (for "extra" strength)

For painting:

  • latex and/or PAX paints (and possibly acrylic paints)
  • flexible latex paint sealer
  • brushes
  • sponges

Normally I would mix together acrylic paints with a latex paint base for this kind of thing but I had sPeCiAl paint kits that I *finally* got around to using: PAX paint! So I used that for both the primer and undercoat layers, along with using a bit of latex and acrylics.

Everything else:

  • 5 red fake nails (various sizes)
  • sandpaper or nail-file
  • e6000/super-strong crafting glue
  • tweezers (or rhinestone pick-up-pen-tool)
  • red rhinestones (various sizes. I used about 44 per nail)
  • red fabric
  • scissors
  • red thread
  • sewing machine or hand sewing needle
  • small awl or a big sturdy needle or pin
  • two sewing needles
  • "your flesh" coloured thread
  • thimble
  • tiny zipper
  • gold grommet set (includes grommets and setting tool)
  • gold bag chain
  • pair of (small/jewelry) pliers

A lot of these items can be found at craft, dollar, or sewing stores - the things like the liquid latex, and latex and PAX paints can be found at special effect shopslike FX Warehouse, The Monster Makers, HollyNorth, Studio F/X, but also sometimes even Spirit Halloween or other Halloween/costume stores.

Step 1: Expand the Hand

Sadly, the hand I bought was too narrow and short for my phone (which was the main thing I needed to carry, along with cards, keys and lipstick). I test-dropped my phone into a couple different cylindrical containers until I found one that was roomy enough for everything I wanted. I then wrapped the tube in cellophane.

With scissors I cut the sides of the hand and shoved it onto the tube. I then kept the hand in place by pining it along the side cuts to the tube, and wrapped some elastic bands running down the cellophaned parts of the container. I built a small wall of plasticine over the hand, surrounding the cut, to help prevent liquid latex from running. I then used a makeup sponge to slowly dab on layers of liquid latex, overlapping the container and hand, to make 'latex gussets' (and I did the same to extended the length). I had to make sure to wait until the previous layer was dry before adding another (I did about 15; I recommend doing at least 10). During this process I kept trying to keep the transition between the hand and new-latex-gusset smooth, going back with more latex once all layers were added to help smooth down the edges.

Step 2: Decorate Nails

While waiting for the latex to dry I worked on the nails.

I took clean, dry false red nails, and rough up the front and backs of them with a little bit of sandpaper. I then added red rhinestones to the front and top-back of them, using a pair of tweezers to pick up the rhinestones, dab them in a little bit of the E6000 glue, and set them carefully on top of the nail. I only partially covered the back of the nail because the majority of that area would be glued to the hand.

Step 3: Reinforce Latex

First, carefully remove the hand from the cellophaned container. If your layers seem to be a bit thin, add a few more on both the outside and inside of the hand. (From the thumb-joint-down the hand looks a little swollen/arthritic - nothing wrong with that! - due to making that section bigger to fit my phone).

I took a hot-glue-gun and squeezed glue all along the inside 'seams' of the 'latex gussets' just to add some extra strength to the latex I added.

Step 4: Paint

Normally I would mix together acrylic paint with a latex base for this kind of thing but I had sPeCiAl paint kits that I *finally* got around to using: PAX paint! So I used that for both the primer and undercoat layers, and a non-tack PAX paint for the main flesh colour. Whatever you use, you want to make sure it will stick to the latex and has flex (won't crack when the latex hand bends).

I put the hand back on the container and started off laying down a red base primer layer. I then went in with blue and green colours for veins, before covering everything with a flesh tone similar to my own. Next I added reds, yellows, and blues, adding textured detail with a stippling sponge. I finished off everything with a flexible latex sealer.

Regardless of what colour flesh you decide to go with, start with that red base layer (as we all have those nice red muscles and blood underneath our skin). From there you can layer in everything from purple and orange to pink and teal, until you get to that main top layer of the skin hue of your choice.

Step 5: Create Inner Pouch

Besides wanting to close the hand with a zipper, I didn't want any items falling into the hollow fingers of the hand, so I sewed together a little pouch to contain everything.

I first cut four tiny rectangles to make two tabs - this will be how the strap attaches to the bag. Two pieces were sewn right-sides together, turned inside out, and I repeated the process for the next two pieces. I then hammered a grommet into each one.

Next I cut two larger rectangles, big enough to hold all my 'stuff' (and still fit comfortably inside the rubber hand). I sewed three edges together, leaving the shorter 'top' open. I then cut an oval out and sliced down the center of it - this is where I added the tiny zipper. This piece, along with the two tabs, were stitched to the larger rectangle.

*see the drawings to aid with the explanation of this! I had also done a lining within the pouch to have no raw edges anywhere, but if you're not comfortable with sewing this is good enough!*

Step 6: Sew Pouch to Hand

Now the little pouch had to be actually added to the hand!

Using a small awl (a sturdy needle will work too) I punched tiny holes in the latex hand along the bottom edge, making one ever centimeter or so. With two needles and some flesh coloured thread, I saddle-stitched the pouch to the rubber hand, going through the pre-punched holes in the latex and just straight through the fabric pouch. The saddle-stich makes this connection nice and strong, and it's a pretty easy stitch to conquer. To help keep the bag in place while you work, I highly recommend using a clip of some sort instead of a pin (you don't want to punch additional holes in the latex). Clothespins, paperclips, binder clips, and sewing clips all work.

Step 7: Add Nails to Hand

I used these toe-separating-thingies I had bought and forgot about long ago, to help apply the oh-so-fancy nails with E6000. I just added a little dab of glue on the back of the nail, pressed it onto the hand, and let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 8: Add Chain to Bag. You're Done!...

The last thing I did was add the chain; I just opened up two links at the ends of the chain with a pair of pliers, looped them through the grommet-tabs on the handbag, and closed them up again. Finished! Ready to hold your keys, phone, cards, money and whatnot.

Step 9: ...unless You're Curious About the Rest of the Look

So,I made The Literal Handbag for my Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova - aka Katya - drag queen costume, based on a look featuring special effects makeup by Gage Munster. I believe the concept was inspired by the Mars mutants (specifically a fortune teller) from the original Total Recall movie.

I did my best to replicate the effect, using the two-part silicone '3rd Degree' and painted it with alcohol paints (after trying to seal it; I've used Green Marble SeLr, Pros-Aide, and powder, but still haven't found the perfect thing for helping paint to adhere 100% to the silicone!).

The three bracelets, two earrings, watch and bolo-tie were made out of various bits and bobs that were ordered or printed and glued or fastened together.

The beautiful nails were from think.love.nails and the gorgeous wig was from awesomebitchwig

Thank you for reading! If you made it this far, give yourself a hand!...a handbag.

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    1 year ago

    Absolutely freaking amazing!!!! Thank you for sharing your awesome ideas!!!


    1 year ago

    Awesome! I love the whole costume, especially the hand-bag! I work in a prototyping shop, and we use silc-pig dyes from Smooth-On. This isn't an ad, I swear! But their dyes will change the color of the base silicone you're using so you don't need to paint it. They're expensive, but their psycho paint works well for a blood sheen and if you experiment with a combo of their blood and red dyes you'll be able to get very realistic silicone goo. Thanks for the awesome instructable!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank YOU for the comment! I've only used them twice, but I've had a great experience with ("regular") Smooth-On products (no ads here, just positive reviews ;) ! The main thing really stopping me from experimenting with them more is price - but it's great to hear the silc-pig dyes vouched for! I did try adding colour to one half of my silicone duo before mixing, and another test adding in colour during mixing, but not to great results. I also thinking my painting process probably was to blame; I do have an airbrush but couldn't use it for this, and I think by not 'touching' the silicone as much as I had to, it would have helped!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Well everything turned out great!
    Congrats on being featured, you deserve it!


    1 year ago

    That is far too realistic :O Ha Love it!