Jewel and I made this cool articulated hand! But before I show you how to make one for yourself, let me tell you a little story explaining why.
A few months ago, Jewel fell over awkwardly and cut her little finger. It was a small cut, but something about it felt wrong. It just looked… strange. So after some deliberation, we decided to take Jewel to the hospital. It was evening by then, and the emergency department was busy with broken limbs, head injuries, suspected heart attacks, and goodness knows what else. So I felt about the size of an ant when I presented my 5.5 year old daughter with a tiny cut on her pinky finger.
The nurses ummed and ahhed. The doctors ummed and ahhed. The hand surgeons ummed and ahhed. The cut was in a tricky spot. No one wanted to send us home, just in case.
Jewel went into surgery the next day. As it turned out, Jewel had somehow managed to sever two tendons, a nerve and an artery, all in that tiny, not-even-1cm cut on her pinky finger. And that is the story behind why Jewel is interested in hand anatomy just now, and why we decided to make a model of an articulated hand.
Jewel made this first hand, with a little help from me. With imagination, it helps demonstrate how tendons work, and how severing tendons could affect more than just that one joint. I made a second hand, with a few minor modifications and the fingers now bend really well.
How to make an articulated handWe used:
Step 1: Trace your hand on craft foam, and cut it out.
Step 2: Cut paper straws into small pieces, and stick them on the hand and fingers to represent the bones and the tendon sheaths that are attached to them. (Leave gaps between each piece, as this will allow the fingers to bend later.)
Feel your hand and see if you can work out where the major bones are. We discovered there should be three small bones for each finger, and only two for the thumbs. Each set of finger and thumb bones connect up to corresponding longer bones in main part of the hand.
Hint: when I re-did this step for our second hand, I discovered it is better if you leave a large gap between the straws (larger than pictured below). This made a huge difference in how well the fingers bend later on.
Jewel chose to attach her straws with small pieces of sticky tape. You could also use glue if you prefer.
Step 3: Tie beads to five pieces of twine (or yarn). Thread each piece of yarn through the straws on the finger and thumb, into the corresponding straws in the hand.
We used pony beads, but any beads would work, as long as they are large enough to not fit through the straw openings.
Make sure your twine is long enough so that you can easily pull on the other ends at the wrist. If in doubt, make them longer. You can always shorten them later on.
Step 4: Tie a further five beads to the other ends of the twine.
This step is optional, but it does stop you needing to worry about the twine falling out.
Step 6. Turn your hand over, and paint fingernails.
Step 7: Tape a chopstick to the palm to act as a handle.
This makes it much easier to be able to hold and manipulate the hand (especially if you’re trying to take photos at the same time!)
And now, have fun playing with your new hand! How many fingers am I holding up?
If you’d like to see the difference that the extra gaps between the straws makes, have a look at these two shots below – the top one is Jewel’s original hand, and the second on is the one I made with larger gaps, which can bend much further.
Afterwards, Jewel took full advantage of the access she had to the usually off-limits nail polish, and decided to get a little creative… I love her artistic mind!
(In case you’re wondering, the main nailpolish we used is Covergirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in Grapevine – not that we’re #fashionbloggers, lol