Halloween is a holiday that comes in many shades—more so than just about any other occasion for celebration. It can be silly, gory, spooky, sexy, or mystical and elegant. That’s the aesthetic that inspired this DIY, which taps into the current divination-centric decor trend.

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While it’s not exactly a quickie craft, it’s a highly adaptable one: You can use these pretty plaster hands as candleholders or candy dishes, place card holders or party-buffet props. Whatever route you choose, we predict you’ll keep the finished product around at season’s end—and summon its magical party-enhancing powers year after year.

At a glance:

Time: 40 minutes hands-on, 12–24 hours for drying

Difficulty: Intermediate

The materials you need for this project

You will need:

  • Large bucket or bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Wood craft sticks for stirring
  • Alginate molding powder
  • 2-liter plastic bottle with the top cut off
  • Casting plaster
  • Craft knife
  • Sandpaper (100-grit)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Fine-tip paint pen
  • Chisel
Preparing the alginate compound

Step 1: Scoop alginate compound into a large bucket or bowl. To cast an adult hand, you’ll need 6 cups.

Adding water to the alginate powder

Step 2: Add an equal amount of room temperature water to the alginate powder.

Stirring the alginate mixture

Step 3: Stir the ingredients together with a wood stick. Then eliminate any remaining lumps with one hand, making sure to keep the other hand clean for casting.

Pouring the paste into a bottle

Step 4: Quickly pour the paste into the 2-liter bottle.

Dipping a hand into the alginate mixture

Step 5: Insert a clean hand, held in the pose that you want to cast, into the mixture. Keep your hand submerged and in position, remaining as still as possible, for 3 to 5 minutes.

Waiting for the mixture to set
Revealing the set mold

Step 6: Tap the top of the alginate with your free hand to make sure it’s fully set. Once the alginate has hardened, gently wiggle your submerged hand and fingers to get them loose. Carefully remove your hand. Congratulations—you’ve just made a mold!

Preparing the casting plaster

Step 7: Set your mold to the side and mix up some plaster according to package instructions, stirring thoroughly until smooth.

Pouring the plaster into the mold

Step 8: Pour the plaster into the mold you created. Depending on the humidity, it can take 30 minutes or longer for the plaster to set.

Cutting away the mold
Removing the cast-plaster hand

Step 9: Once the plaster has set, tap the top to loosen, then begin cutting away the plastic bottle using a craft or utility knife. Continue cutting carefully, now through the alginate, being mindful not to cut into the plaster fingers you’ve made. Keep removing alginate until your plaster hand is revealed. If there are any air bubbles or mistakes, use extra plaster to fill in the holes.

Sanding the bottom of the plaster hand

Step 10: Let the hand dry for at least 12 hours and sand off any rough spots before you begin painting. You can also sand the bottom of the hand into a flat base so that it can stand upright.

Painting the plaster hand

Step 11: Paint the plaster with an opaque acrylic paint and let dry.

Carving out a niche to hold a candle

Step 12: If you want to make a flat plaster hand into a candle holder, use a small chisel or a flat clay sculpting tool to carve out a hole in the plaster to fit the candle. Work slowly, carving just a little at a time, until you’ve made a shallow well that matches the candle’s diameter.

Decorating the painted plaster hand

Step 13: Using a fine-tip paint pen in a contrasting color, follow a palmistry diagram to draw markings on the painted hand.

The finished hand

For even more impact, create a few hands in different positions and pose them in a spooky vignette atop a side table, or compose a moody centerpiece for your dinner table. It’s bound to earn you a round of enthusiastic—and maybe a little awed—applause.

Looking for more brilliant Halloween ideas? Browse these creepy-cute candles and holders made and curated by Etsy sellers. 

Halloween-themed candles and candleholders from Etsy
SHOP: Clockwise, from top: Melting coffin candle from Creepy Candles, $35; black and gold ceramic candleholders from Kina Ceramics, $39 each; ceramic pumpkin candleholder from Barruntando Ceramics, $45; Witches’ Brew candle from A to Z Candles, $12.50; 6-inch decorative pillar candle from CRYPTOSTYLIS, $13; vintage ceramic jack-o-lantern from jarmfarm, $55; Pumpkin Juice candle from Frostbeard, $22; ghost-shaped votive candles from Country Rich Creations, $2.25 each; vintage ceramic cat candleholders, $28 for two

Project photographs by Amanda Kingloff.

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