Is A Hand Mold Better Than A Photo?

Feb 16, 2023

Did you know that our hands show the most expression compared to every other body part?

If you’ve ever seen a hand mold sculpture then you’d know what I mean.

“Across three experiments, emotion recognition accuracy was above chance for all body parts. While emotions were recognized most accurately from full bodies, recognition performance from the hands was more accurate than for other body parts.”


If this is true, which I’m sure it is, then why don’t we pay more attention to our hands?

We focus a lot on pictures and videos of our faces. Makes perfect sense. My loved ones faces are seared into my memory and I love reminiscing about the past by scrolling through photos.

I’m sure you do too!

But do you ever take that one step further and focus on hands? Have you ever paid attention to the way they move and “speak”?

Through our hands, we can show strength, tenderness, connection, humor, love.

Or fear, hesitation, secrecy, danger or anger.

Photo and artwork courtesy of artist Johnson Tsang (@johnson_tsang_artist)

Johnson captures not only the facial expression here.  A little furrow on the forehead and eyes looking up and to the right.  Almost like she was mid sentence about to say something important and now a bit surprised and annoyed.  But look at the expression in the hand.  Strong, determined, deliberate, secretive.  Pressing down on the face to stop the words from coming out to keep a secret.

Not even caring if she can breathe.

He captures the hand expression beautifully. It’s something I never really noticed until I found life casting.

The art of hand casting

Creating a hand cast is an art form that allows a subject (or a family of subjects) to preserve a moment with incredible detail by taking an alginate mold of the subject’s hand.  That sculpture is finished and presented in a multitude of creative ways that beautifully showcases that moment.

In the case of a couples hand mold, the result can be an incredibly detailed expression of love and connection like no other.

This engagement hand cast will be a symbol of their love forever. Their hands are young, gentle, relaxed and loving. They will feel the energy and emotion in this hand mold forever.

My children’s hands were cast when they were young and every time I look at it I’m transported back to that moment through their little hands.  The way their fingers are spread apart and even the playfulness they express.

It’s them.  A detailed, three dimensional copy of their essence.

The way they moved their hands when they were only toddlers was so full of emotion, awkwardness and energy that I recognize it in a different way than an image or video.

The hand casting I have of them is representational of their character and their vibe.

Preserving the spirit with a hand mold

You know how when you haven’t seen somebody since they were a kid?  And the little nuances and vibe they had as a kid are still there but transferred into an adult body?

Like their spirit never really changed but their body, mind, experiences and life did. And you still recognize that essence apart from their aging body. 

A hand casting captures that spirit.  It picks up that vibe.  It’s an incredibly detailed memory cue of their energy.

According to a Science of People study,  you’re born to speak with your hands.  Hand gestures speak to great intelligence.  Hand gestures help people to listen to you.

Spencer Kelly, associate professor of psychology and co director of the Center for Language and Brain at Colgate University, found that:

“Gestures are not merely add-ons to language—they may actually be a fundamental part of it.”

Spencer even found that blind people use hand gestures when speaking with other blind people. Hand gestures come naturally to us. They are a part of how we communicate and who we are.

So how do we go about recording these vibey moments?

What do we do when we want to create a piece of art that represents a relationship?  A connection in some way?

A hand mold or hand cast is one of the easiest ways to show expressions of your feelings for another.  The state of your relationship with your child, your partner, your elderly parent or your family.

A time when you were Daddy’s girl.

There’s an “essence” of a hand cast that other forms of memory keeping don’t capture.  That could be to celebrate a moment of engagement, birth, the end of a life or the bond between family members.  This essence is unmistakable and not only specific to life casting but particularly specific to hands.

It’s a much different way to capture a moment in time.  And it evokes a much different vibe than other keepsakes.

This is one of the main reasons Gabrielle fell in love with mold making.

Like this couples hand mold. The expression of youth, trust, acceptance of one another.

Take my hand and I’m yours forever.

Or how about some of these family hand casting ideas?

This family bond is unmistakable and represents unity and trust. Look at how closely they hold their hands together. There’s barely any space in the middle – their bond is so tight. And Dad’s thumb is wrapped around his child’s wrist.

Protective and proud.

This next hand cast shows the tight bond between 3 brothers.

You can tell which hand belongs to the oldest brother. Fingers locked, thumbs up.

Other family hand casting ideas

This couple wanted to celebrate their one year anniversary and do something different. So they chose to do a hand mold.

She’s resting on his strength. Protective of their love. Two hands as one.

This framed family casting of four was created after their Father passed away. All four hands were created separately and then framed together to preserve the memory of their bond.

The second hand from the bottom is the hand of the deceased Dad. Mom’s hand is on top of his. And the two daughters are above.

Preserving their Father’s memory and their family love forever.

Every stage of life is different. We get older and more weathered. We learn and find more meaning and purpose in what we do. As we grow, we face loss and tragedy. We face the fact that we won’t be here for ever.

And none of us gets out alive.

But we remember what we did and who we loved and its important to remind ourselves of that. And the connections we made with the most important people in the world to us.

By triggering a memory cue in a different way so we can access a different part of them.

Honoring their life in a sculpture of a hand mold.

Candice Fischer

I've spent my life running small businesses and the more I do it, the more I love it. Talk to me about finance, marketing, business strategies and the power of small businesses in our communities. We need more of them so I'm here to teach you about them too.


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I'm a master life casting artist. I teach creatives like you the art of mold making so they can create one-of-a-kind keepsakes for families and loved ones. I hope you'll join me here and learn more about this amazing art form.

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