Making Realistic Soap Hands

After creating my soap hands by melting soap and pouring it into rubber gloves, I wanted to make hands that were more realistic. However, this did not happen without many difficulties, failures and frustrations.

My first plan was to make a mold of my hand that I could pour the soap into but after speaking to the technician at the MakeLab in DJCAD I was advised to try out their carving machine and carve into the soap instead. To do this I 3D scanned my friends hand and edited it in Rhino. Unfortunately, because our hands move so much no matter how hard we try to stay still, the scan had many flaws including webbed fingers. I tried my best to fix it but I was losing the detail of the original hand which was what I was after in the first place.


To try and fix this problem I created molds of my hands using ModRoc and 3D scanned these as they would stay still.



The plan now was to use the 3D scan of the ModRoc hands and the carving machine in the MakeLab to carve out the hand from a large block of soap. The machine didn’t like carving the soap for some reason and just stopped working after a while so again, I needed a new plan.

Going back to the original plan of making a mold I used my 3D scan of the ModRoc hand and with help from Rob in the MakeLab, attempted to make a 3D print of a mold of my hand. The print would be in two parts with an indentation of the 3D scanned hand in between. I would pour the melted soap into the mold and once it had set I would open it up and wah la! There would be a hand made of soap. But to carry on the theme of failing this print did not work either and would not give me the mold I was after.

So it was back to the drawing board once again. Rob helped me create another 3D scan, this time of my own hand and with some altering of the system it worked a lot better than the first time. I edited the file in Rhino to create a 3D print of a mold of my hand that I could pour melted soap into directly.


The first attempt at using my mold was not successful, after I poured the soap in and waited a few days for it to set, I cut open the mold using a electric saw-like tool. Unfortunately, as the air could not get into the mold to dry it out the soap was still quite wet and fell apart when I cut the mold open. This was very disheartening but I soldiered on and printed another mold. This time after the soap had set inside the hand I pierced holes into the mold to allow the soap to dry out. A week after I poured the soap into the mold I opened it using the saw tools and this time used smaller drill bits as well. And finally it worked! I was left with a beautiful life-size hand made out of soap.



It was quite surreal to see my own hand made out of soap, especially after all of the hardship and failures it took to get to this point. I am proud of this hand and plan on displaying it on its own on a plinth. The hand is weird, grotesque as it is slightly shriveled but also very clean and hygienic. It contradicts my hairy sculpture but also goes hand-in-hand with it as people do not like to see soap with hair on it. The hand also adds a more obvious human aspect to my display in among the abstract hairy wonderland. My next post will be the last one of this semester and will show all of my finished work in my studio space so stay tuned.




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