Introduction: Front (grave)yard Hand

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This is something I made as a last minute addition to what little Halloween decoration we have. I recently dug out a plant in our front lawn, and I was not exactly gentle. After I was done I thought, "this kinda looks like a freshly dug grave". The idea of a hand popping out of it came naturally.

Step 1: Materials to Have Handy

Bones (I used chicken bones from chicken wings, bleached)
plastic pipe
or if you want to go the easy (but maybe better looking) way:
a plastic skeleton arm
a small rod as an anchor, I used a metal one that would fit inside one of the pipes (or use two if you want to be on the safe side. I do not know whether there if a safe side to a zombie apocalypse...)

Hot glue gun
Hot air gun

LEDs as mood light

Step 2: Make the Hand

I used hot glue and chicken bones to make a hand. For the palm, I glued together a number of bones, especially the small one. I will admit that it does not look that realistic, and yes, the fingers only have two phalanxes, but I like how they turned out.

First, I sorted through the larger bones and picked eight for the fingers. I aligned them as you can see on the images (sorry I did not take more), in such a fashion that they formed a kind of joint, that is that the broard end of one bone would butt up well against the other and retain at least two points of contact when I bent it into the position I wanted. It made sense to me, even if I cannot explain it properly.

I made the fingers with increasing angles so they would not look too much alike.

For the thumb I took one bone and cut a piece out to make it shorter - my supplies were running low at that time. 

After gluing the fingers tigether I started making a kind of "raft" from bones for the palm. I call it a raft because it kinda reminds me of tieing together logs to make a makeshift, well, raft. I tried to find bones that fit into each other's curvature, but I quickly ended up with a curve that would not do for the sides of a palm, so I had to find bones that would fit into the curve without adding to it. Once again, I feel like it make smore sense in my head than written out.

Finally, I Glued the fingers to the palm, repeatedly making a "up from the grave"-gesture myself to see what I wanted it to look like. At least when I do it, all my fingers are bent, with the index finger being closest to straight and each finger subsequently more bent.

Step 3: Make the Arm

If I had come up with the idea earlier, I would have used wood for the bones, or even considered getting plastic ones, but as it was, I felt I had to make due with two lengths of plastic pipe. I cut off two lengths of about my arm's length to the elbow.

First, I sanded down the tube to remove the writing it had on it.

Using a hot air gun, I then gently bent them into shape, which is to say I heated them up and worked them on a big dowel (like an anvil, but without a hammer, mind) just a little so they would not look too round. I made sure that the metal rod would still fit at least halfway into one of the pipes, though (or both if that is your choice).

I also tried to flare the upper end to make it easier to attach the hand, but with hot plastic, it did not work out as pleasantly as I had expected, so I canned the idea. Also, It turned out not to be necessary at all.

Then I glued them together using hot glue - yes, not the best choice, but I did not feel like experimenting, and besides, hot glue may not always be the solution, but it is always a solution.

Step 4: Arm the Hand

In order to connect arm and hand, my first instinct was to use hot glue. It is always a good instinct. My hand it not very anatomical, and if I had had the time I would have added some part that would serve as an extra joint to make it more realistic.  As it was, I did use hot glue and the hand seems to hold up fine for now.

Step 5: Spray It

At that point, I sprayed the pipes with a can of ivory color I still had, mainly to cover up what remained of the writing on the pipe. I also sprayed a little onto the bones themselves, hoping that the smell would keep our cats from devouring the hand for the marrow inside.

Step 6: Put the Hand Down

The rest is easy - for the most basic set-up. Stick the rod into the ground where you want the hand to stick out. Make sure that it is both deep enough to serve ad an anchor but also extends far enough above ground to give the hand stability. You might want to go with two rods, one for each bone, to prevent the hand from spinning.

So basically, you would be done. Admire your work, just do not make it too obvious.

But there might be more to do.

Step 7: Further Dressing

With that little time, I had many ideas that I did not even dare to think through for fear of delaying the project for a year. 

One idea that I feel would be easily implementet are LEDs as mood light. The idea is to use "throwies" to light up the hand from below. You would not even have to throw them.

I even think that taking a LED, sticking a button battery between it's legs and wrapping the thing in duct tape would work, at least if you only needed them for a night or so. Half-burried in the soil and hidden behind lumps so people would not see the actual light source, they are bound to set off the hand. I would recommend using red and yellow colors, but green might work well, too, and yes, go for blue if you are so inclined.

That is about how far I got, in my mind and in my front yard, for this year.

A cool effect might be aciheved using UV-LEDs and painting the hand with UV-colors - as blood or as demonic runes...

Step 8: Crazy Hand Talk

Usually when I do something, I do it the way I can with the tools, skills and time I have. Sometimes, in my mind, there forms an image of the "perfect" version of a project, something I might even be able to do with more of the above, usually more time.

For this project, here is what I envision:

Amechanism to actually raise the hand. It would come up from a tube large enough to hide it in, using a string and a motor to pull it up, preferrably fast. The hand would be able to bend upwards for it to vanish, and if I were to do this, I would try to get hold of a proper skeleton arm, made from plastic if possible for weight reasons. Paired with a motion sensor, I would have the arm come up whenever someone walks by.

In addition, I would wire the lighting to a microcontroller so that it would change, fade in and out, and incorporate some of the ideas for UV light in the previous step. I imagine that after the hand came up, after a few seconds the UV would fade in, making the hitherto invisible marks on the bones glow.

The only problem I see is that dirt would get inside the tube if you wanted to hide it, so I am thinking about using some kind of fabric, to make a patch of fake earth where the hand can push through again and again.

Well, so much for that.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, and have fun with it!

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