Okay, so there are these hands.  Last Halloween, Walgreen’s carried them; this year, they’re at Michaels.  I love these hands.  They are phenomenally detailed and disturbingly realistic.   Sure, yes, they’re also bloody, which is sort of vulgar, but like many of life’s problems, that can be fixed with craft paint.  So!  My advice is to get one of these hands and use it to create your own fortune telling machine Halloween decoration before I buy up all the hands, everywhere.

What is a fortune telling machine, you ask?  Think Zoltaire from the movie Big, or that creepy machine with the devil head from that episode of The Twilight Zone.  You put in your nickel, turn the handle, and the machine provides an answer to your question, a prediction for your future, or a haunting promise that you will soon turn into Tom Hanks and make out with Elizabeth Perkins after she gets that weird glob of mustard off of her face.   In our case, the fortune telling machine we’re building won’t actually function, but it will have a real button you can press, a slot for your coin, and if you like, a second slot for the fortunes to come out.  Fun, right?


  • Plastic hand (available at Michaels)
  • Foam or rubber eye
  • Metallic spray paint in color of choice
  • Flesh-toned craft paint in color of choice
  • Crackle medium
  • Tin with a plastic lid (I used a coffee tin)
  • Cheap doorbell (mine cost $0.59 at the hardware store)
  • Glue
  • Craft knife
  • Collage materials
  • Fortune telling cards or other embellishments (I got mine for free online from Vintage Printables)



1.  Using scissors (or brute strength), remove the cloth “sleeve” from your hand, revealing the cardboard “arm” underneath.




2.  Since that bloody look is sort of nasty, spray paint the hand using your metallic finish of choice.



3.  When the spray paint dries (or when you get tired of waiting), paint over the hand using a flesh-toned paint in the color of your choice.  Do a second coat if necessary.  Hint: It’s necessary.



4.  Apply an easy, one-step crackle medium.  Go thick if you want big cracks and flakes; go thinner if you want a subtler look.  I tried to break the World’s Record for Awesome Hand Crackling, then peeled off some of the flakiest bits to expose sections of the “metal” underneath.



5.  While the crackle medium dries, use some craft paint on your eye if your eye doesn’t look as cool as it should.  (Mine definitely didn’t, so I made it slightly more realistic.  Also brown.)



6.  Position your doorbell over your tin until you settle on its final resting place.  Drill whatever holes are necessary to attach the doorbell to the tin, then cut a slot for the coin using your craft knife.



7.  Spread out your collage materials and start gluing strips of papers and text pages to your tin.  Apply craft paint in whatever way you like and whatever colors you like to help create a cohesive look.   Re-establish the holes and the coin slot you made in Step 6, and add fortune teller cards or other “mystical” embellishments to the tin until you’re happy with the overall appearance.





8.  Using your craft knife, cut a small X in the middle of your plastic lid.  Test your cardboard arm / plastic hand to see if you can fit it through the X.  If you made the X small, it won’t fit yet – and oddly, that’s good.  Enlarge the X a little more and test it again.  Repeat until you can just fit the cardboard arm and then the hand inside.  It should be all kinds of cozy and snug; otherwise, you’ll have a floppy fortune telling machine Halloween decoration, and all of your neighbors will talk about you.


9.  Paint the lid in whatever way and color(s) you like, and let it dry.


10.  Using your craft knife, cut the eye in half, glue it to the hand, and give it a coat of gloss so it looks shiny, like a real eye.



11.  Now it’s time to assemble the machine!  Put the lid on the tin.  Insert the arm and then the hand into the tin.  If the arm needs to be shorter, cut off some of the cardboard and re-insert.  Add any last details you like – including a slit where the fortunes come out!





Categories: Tutorial


Ann D'Angelo is a dedicated drinker of diet Coke who has never spotted a thrift store she didn't want to visit or an item she didn't want to alter. Check out Ann's shop.

1 Comment

Sara Lynravn · January 19, 2015 at 5:29 am

Silver spray hand is looking very realistic than others. I liked that and surely will try it out. Thanks

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