Old hand at casting hands

UPON entering artist Michelle Lim's home studio in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, one cannot help but marvel at the sculptures of hands and feet displayed on a shelf and walls. 

The three-dimensional (3D) masterpieces are incredibly life-like, capturing every wrinkle, crease and fine line. 

Lim showing how to mould a hand with stone powder in her Tanjung Bungah home studio.

Looking at the cast of a mother's hand gripping her young daughter's definitely leaves one with a warm feeling. 

“This is my hand holding my little daughter Chantelle's hand when she was six last year,” said Lim, 41, proudly. 

She said she started doing 3D hand and foot casting as a hobby about 11 years ago when she made a cast of her one-year-old nephew’s foot. Since then, she has created many hand and foot casts of family members and friends. 

Lim said she liked making the sculptures because she would not only see but almost feel the hands and feet of her loved ones. 

“They are unique and lasting keepsakes,” she said. 

Lim said each cast was individually handcrafted to capture every tiny crease and wrinkle right down to the toenails and fingernails.  

She added that the mould was made of stone powder and “something from Michelle Lim's secret recipe”, depending on the skin texture. 

“It takes one to three minutes to make the mould of the hand or foot and several days for the cast to be dried,” she said. 

Moulds of a Japanese piano teacher’s hands on the keyboard.

After that, the sculpture has to be “cleaned” with a sculpturing tool before it is sprayed with acrylic stone paint. 

Lastly, the cast is mounted on frames and sometimes, with metal plates engraved with a poem, sentimental messages or relevant details such as name and age.  

“Each casting is specially designed to the individual’s requirements, depending on the occasion, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and friendship,” said Lim. 

Her creations include a cast of a piano teacher's hands on a keyboard and another of an artist's hand holding a paintbrush. 

People began commissioning her to make the casts when they got to know about her creations by word of mouth and she turned it into a business a year ago. 

Hands in various ‘poses’.

Lim's oldest client was a 91-year-old woman who wanted a cast of her hand while the youngest was a three-month-old baby who did a foot cast. 

“We are always fascinated by our little one's hands and feet but before long, we find it hard to remember just how small and cute they really were,” she said. 

Lim plans to introduce hand and foot imprints as souvenirs for tourists visiting Penang. 

Besides 3D casting, Lim said she had also done various artworks such as woodcarving, glass sculpturing, stone art, ostrich eggshell painting as well as using recyclables to create art pieces. 

“I have liked to create things since I was young. It gives me a sense of satisfaction when I look at the finished artwork,” said Lim, a diploma holder in interior design. 

Those interested in Lim’s 3D casts can contact her at 012-511 7773 or 04-899 7371 or e-mail cherish2moments@yahoo.com.  

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