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Discussion Starter #1
I have not been thrilled with the quality or look of most commercially available zombie parts. The $5-$10 blow molded plastic hands are too small, too inflexible, and not posed to do much aside from imitate the queen's wave on parade days.

I was thinking about life casting my own forearms and hands to create more realistic and menacing looking hands/arms. If I cast them in resin I could do a slush cast to have a hollow item (less weight and cost) that I then fill with foam or ... if I use translucent resin ... maybe I let it glow a little with some lighting.

Here is where I ask for a sanity check. If I do this, I am looking at $25 in cost for each pair. Maybe as much as $40 (allowing for things I forget like expense of tint for painting on details with more resin after uncasting or other stuff like that). Is this nuts? I have seen really amazing arm props made from silicone for $75 each but that seems definitely in the crazy category for just a front yard haunt.

I know it is a slow time on the forum but if anyone wants to weigh in before, say, March 12 that would be great (I take a class on how to do this on that day, and impulse buying will happen probably).
 

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I've been thinking of doing the same thing, though really haven't done a full cost analysis. I did purchase a box/pack of the casting Alja-safe. I feel even though it may cost more than to buy cheap ones, I get the fun/pleasure of making my own. Plus I can get the poses I want, where as the hands you buy are often "flat".
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yep, the idea of having a non-flat hand is really appealing. Something that has fingers curled to hold a weapon, or where the fingers are in the shape of claws would be so useful.

The mold is getting pretty expensive to make. Body Double silicone is about $37 for 2 pounds, and that can do a Hand + Forearm (just one). I think that since the forearm doesn't change shape much I could make a mold for "elbow to wrist bone" and then do 3-4 hand molds "wrist bone to fingertips". Resin sticks to itself so I should be able to join the two pieces after unmolding them.

That basically chops the mold cost per hand position from $37 to $18.50. I think (guess) that I can slush cast the hands and arms for $13, plus the cost of colorants. Still feels like SO much money ... but for life size hands and arms that are UV resistant, colorable, and in poses I need ... it might be worth it.
 

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It's not crazy to want something to look (or work) a specific way. I would guess that most of us have worked on projects where we had a very clear idea of what the finished product needs to look like and if we can't get there then its not worth doing. So if you are willing to spend the $$ then go do it! Experiment! And show the rest of us what you come up with!
 

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I read somewhere where you can make a mold using Alja-safe and then a slush cast with latex. I didn't bookmark that site and can't find it anymore however I believe I can get a few castings with the alginate mold before it dries out too much. I hear that they shrink but that may be a good thing as they would all be different. Once I have a latex "glove" I would probably fill them with expandable foam. I have some soft foam and then there is the expandable foam for fence post. That should last awhile since the power company uses it to set poles. I want the cast to be from the hand to above the elbow so I have arms for the zombies and I can be free of long sleeve shirts. I have most of the material I need and I have stayed away from the resin and silicone because of cost. This should be a fun project I just need to get started. Your right it's just a yard haunt.
 

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I have not been thrilled with the quality or look of most commercially available zombie parts. The $5-$10 blow molded plastic hands are too small, too inflexible, and not posed to do much aside from imitate the queen's wave on parade days.

I was thinking about life casting my own forearms and hands to create more realistic and menacing looking hands/arms. If I cast them in resin I could do a slush cast to have a hollow item (less weight and cost) that I then fill with foam or ... if I use translucent resin ... maybe I let it glow a little with some lighting.

Here is where I ask for a sanity check. If I do this, I am looking at $25 in cost for each pair. Maybe as much as $40 (allowing for things I forget like expense of tint for painting on details with more resin after uncasting or other stuff like that). Is this nuts? I have seen really amazing arm props made from silicone for $75 each but that seems definitely in the crazy category for just a front yard haunt.

I know it is a slow time on the forum but if anyone wants to weigh in before, say, March 12 that would be great (I take a class on how to do this on that day, and impulse buying will happen probably).
I have two ways I have done the hands. I use those cheap plastic hands that are the type that you stake in the ground for the ground breakers but I stuff the hands and fingers with plastic grocery bags then use a heat gun to SLOWLY bend the fingers to the shapes I want them. Wear gloves so you don't burn your fingers! Stuffing the fingers with the plastic bags keeps them from making sharp bends. When I have them the shape I put rubber glue or latex on them let it dry and then rub holes in latex to make it look like wounds or skin is falling off. Paint holes with reddish black brown and paint the hands gray/green.Photo on 8-28-16. Second method is buy the bag of bones skeleton hands and I bend the fingers in the shape you want. (There is wire inside the foam so you can easily bend them.) I then wrap the fingers in plastic grocery bags and build up the fingers as much as needed using a heat gun to melt the plastic to the foam fingers. Wrap the fingers from finger tip back to base of hand so it looks like muscle. I also built up his arms using thios method.Don't wrap around fingers. Zombie Ed.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Check out Rotten Prop Works. He’s got great prop arms for $30 a pair right now. These are not painted, but he can do the painting too.

Thank you! I have reached out to find out what they are made of (so I will know how to paint them). They look to be latex (he has a gif of the unmolding process) so this might be nice and posable. This could work really well for my long sleeved zombies and gives me male hands (I have female hands in house).
 

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Quick Update on where I am at, planning wise ...

I am heading to the casting and molding shop this afternoon to check out new toys (supplies). This might change once I see this stuff in person, but here is the current plan that is driving the shopping list:
  1. Use sodium alginate (3#) and a plastic tube (made from leftover shelf liner) to create a mold of my arm from fingertip to as high as possible. Shelf liner is 24" wide, so that should be closer to armpit than elbow.
  2. Cast a plaster positive of my arm once alginate is ready, using a pvc pipe down the middle so I can clamp the thing to a table later. Demold after awhile (hours).
  3. Use the plaster copy of my arm to try making a silicone mold (brush on 3+ coats of silicone). Then make a clamshell support for the silicone mold with Plasti-Paste. The paste is pricier than plaster bandages, but much lighter so if I wanted to slip cast resin for some glowing hands it would be less strenuous than manually tumbling a cinderblock ;)
  4. Use a 4# foam (very lightweight) tinted to flesh tone to cast my first arm. 4# foam expands a LOT so it will be interesting to see how far up the hand I need to pour to fill the arm (if too little, I don't get an elbow I guess).
Making a silicone lifecast seems to take 1 hr or more if you know what you are doing. I am hoping the plaster arm means that I can take my time without feeling guilty for the poor model :)
 
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