Hand of Glory

Model Making Week 9 – Own Project 

After a traumatic time of trying to come up with a project to develop on the last two weeks of my course, I have finally settled on the idea of sculpting a hand of glory from a cast of my own hand.


A hand of glory, according to folk lore, was taken from the corpse of a hanged man (while still swinging on the gallows, I believe). You could then light the fingers of the hand like candles and break into people’s houses. While the flames burned, everyone in the household would sleep and you could merrily rob them without fear of being caught. I have also read that a hand of glory could be used to magically open any lock.

It seems I am unlikely to make my millions through my model-making skills, so perhaps a life of crime would suit me better.

I’m also keen to develop the concept of a travelling museum of horrors, of objects that I have created. Although all fake, they would shed light on various elements of folklore, and also riff on the fakery of people like Barnum with his Feejee Mermaid.

So I used alginate and plaster to cast my hand, and presumably moved around a bit which caused the squiggly fingertips – this is brilliant because they already look a bit like they have been melted.

I then set about elongating the fingers, and will continue to carve and sand away to hopefully give the impression of a withered, rotting version of my hand. It all ties back rather nicely to my earlier Folk Noir post, which referred to the withered hand at the Haunch of Venison Pub.

There is a hand of glory in the Whitby Museum, well worth checking out here.




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