Hand Lamp

Introduction: Hand Lamp

This project was a random idea that I thought I would follow through with. I was tasked to designing a light for a course work project, I started designing random ideas, but was soon told after my first couple of designs that they were all to arty. Not put off by this remark I decided to make it out of lessons. 

So here we go, here is the list of stuff you will need for the first step:
  • Mixing sticks
  • An apron
  • Work surface with a cover over it(bin liner or something)
  • Alginate
  • Water
  • Vaseline
  • Mixing Containers(I used half a milk bottle/carton)
  • casting cloth(bandages)
  • Plaster

Step 1: Casting

This step will guide you through the simple process of casting your hand, do not try more complicated parts of the body including your face etc. unless you have considerable experience with casting.

Set up your space to work on, maybe put the TV on as you may have to wait a while as things set. put an apron on and get every thing on the list out before you start doing anything. I highly recommend that this is a two man/woman job.

Cover the hand you are casting in a small amount of Vaseline, at this stage you should already know what shape you want your cast to be, REMEMBER: the cast has to come off so don't make it an awkward shape.

Mix the Alginate with the correct ratio of water according to the back of the packet.

Cover your hands in it making sure all areas are covered, try to make it one large ball around your hand as casting it later its alot easier. Make sure you do this as fast as possible as the Alginate will set quite fast. 

Once the Alginate has set and is rubbery like silly putty, you must cover it in 2 layers of cast bandages including their casting powder. Normally they just need to be dipped into water and draped over the alginate, make sure all areas are covered, especially the areas like the thumb if it is separate form the other finger.

Once all is set (30 mins to be safe) start to wiggle youre hand loose, if you cant get it out wiggle harder but try not to break the inside of the mold, if you cant get it out now you should cut a small seem in the cast but not the alginate. Now your hand should be able t be lossened nicly.

you now have your first mould! Congratulations...... 

......Now make two more!!(or however many you want if your making a bigger version.) REMEMBER: if you want them to fit together when assemble open your hand position a little wider than usual.

After all three have been made you can pour the plaster into them, mix plaster and water well and pour into the finished moulds, turn, tap and jiggle the moulds for 30 secs so that all the air bubbles dissapper as this will weaken the structure of the cast product(hand).

I found out the hard way, losing three fingers :(

Leave them in an upright position for a 48 hours, so they are completely set.

Step 2: Glue

Welcome back, did you have an anxious 48 hours?

Now that they will have set you can open up the plaster cast and the alginate.

You'll need:
  • A Stanley knife(CAUTION SHARP)
  • Or other knife
  • Super glue
  • Araldite(plus hardener)
  • A Drill(plus drill bit)

Carefully remove the plaster cast from the alginate using the Stanley knife. All of these step must be done carefully as the fingers are incredibly fragile.

Next remove the Solid Alginate layer, you can pick this off with your fingers, it may make sense as the knife edge can scar the cast.

Using a scapol/toothpick get rid of all the bits stuck in the little cracks or creases that may have been made.

If, like my first attempts you have lost a finger or two don't worry yourself, simply super glue them back together.

The out layer of the cast will be slightly moist, this is because it was close the Alginate and wont have set yet. Just leave it to dry on a windowsill for a day.

All of your casts will now be fully together, with no finger missing! they will also be hard but still brittle. so caution should still be taken.

Practice and model were you want each hand to sit/stand. mix the araldite with its hardener. mark were the hand touch and dab a portion of Araldite on the marked area. how hold the two surfaces together till the araldite has set, 10 minutes minimum.

Glue all of them together.

Drill a hole in the central hand for the brass stand(next step).

At this stage I spray painted my casts with matt white spray paint, this will give them a little more strength and also get ride of any smudges you may have made on the casts.

Step 3: Base

I decided to make a simple, yet elegant base...... its a piece of wood. To make the base you will need:
  • Drill
  • Oak(wood of choice)
  • Brass bar
  • sandpaper
  • file
  • Brasso(metal polish)
  • cloth
  • Junior hack saw
  • Level
  • stain/gloss/polish(if wanted)

Start off by measuring a square around the base of the hand arrangment, it will have to be large to incresed the lamps centre of gravity. If the base is too small then it will easily be pushed over. The size of my base was: 150mm by 150mm.

Mark up the size you need on a piece of wood, I used a nice piece of scrap oak which was 50mm thick( about 2 inches)

Using a jig saw or a band saw cut out the marked up wood, make sure you do it on a right angled face, otherwise your base will look a little odd. 

Plain and sand all of the sides of the newly cut piece, if you wish curve the corners and edges. I did this as it looks better and feels smoother. 

Now 20mm from each corner on the base of the base, mark and X and drill a hole using a pillar drill, 20mm deep. The drill bit I used was 8mm in diameter. There fore the brass rod you will need will be 8mm in diameter as well.

You will also need a hole for the hands to sit in, mark the centre of you square with an X and drill another hole, this time 30mm deep.

You may have to sand around the drill holes as occasionally a lip forms.

At this stage you may wish to add a gloss or a oil to the base, however I did not as the oak had a nice grain that I didn't want to spoil.

The base 'feet' look awesome with oak. To get them so shiny simple use a polish called 'Brasso' it will also clean the rod. You will have to clean them at the end of this but its good to do it now as well. Mark up 4, 30mm sections and a 50mm section for the hand stand on the rod and cut them using a junior hack saw. This will leave a little cut edge on the rod so file it down using different files, bigger to smaller grades.

To get it absolutely smooth you can use wet and dry paper. with a tiny amount of water( a drip).

With a little araldite on the end of each bit tap them into the drilled holes with a hammer. do the same on the now glued hands with the 50mm brass section.

Leave to glue.

Step 4: Electrical Fittings

So nearly finished, just the electrics and the finishing touches. For this step you'll need:
  • A plug
  • A switch
  • Material cord(2 metres)
  • A screw driver(flat head)
  • pliers
  • cutters
  • strippers
  • bulb fittings
  • electrical tape
  • Spray paint
  • spray mask
  • spraying mesh
To start with lets spray paint the white plug the colour of the material cord. The cord I had was a crimson red, so crimson spray paint. Unscrew the plug and remove all fittings, cable grips and screws etc. put these in a safe place as you don't want to lose them!

Clean the outer layer of the plug with a damp cloth and place it on top of a spraying mesh, spray a layer of primer and wait until it dries. Next spray two layer of Crimson onto the plug and leave to dry.

Rap electrical tape around the material cable at one end, now cut open the white outer wire and take out and strip the three electrical wires, Blue for Neutral, Brown for Live and Green/Yellow for Earth. Twist the end so no copper is loose and screw them into the now dry plug. How I remember it is BLue has BL Which goes to Bottom Left and BRown is much the same with BR for Bottom Right. The Green/yellow one is left over and it goes in the top.(as illustrated).

Screw down the white cable and the material with the electrical tape with the cable grip.(the electrical tape stops the material on the cable from fraying).

You will also need to wire the switch and the light bulb fitting, however to do this you need to cut the wire. Before you do I recommend you cut it around half way. First tape up the area you are going to cut, then using a Hack saw cut in the middle of the tape.

REMEMBER: Weave the wire the way you want it before you put on the final bulb fitting!!!

If the shape of the hand you cast is small use a narrow bulb, but if the grasp was wide use a large bulb as the effect looks much better when the lamp is off.

Step 5:

Wal la, its finished!! Now you can have another random lamp around your house!! 

REMEMBER: get it check by and electrical company before you use it. Its not my fault if you did it wrong!! oh, and don't use flammable paint. I'm sure that self explanatory.(Bulb=Heat, Heat+ Flammable paint= fire, Fire+ house= Bad Christmas!!)

I was thinking about one that holds a book next time, it could be used for cooking or something, keep an eye out as I will put it in an update!!

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