Materials Needed: 22 gauge wire....wire cutters...floral tape....toothpick....sculpting tools (what I use: large doll sewing needle, wooden knitting needle, sculpting tool, stiffened paint brush) sculpting clay in flesh and in transparent (not going to mention what kind...we all have our favorites)
It's always best to make the head first so that the hand proportions will be correct. I myself make the hands a bit larger than life because that's how I see Santa. Cut six pieces of wire. Five are for your fingers and one is to make a small holder for the fingers. Wrap this piece around a toothpick to make about 8-10 loops...keep them close together. Make sure to leave some of the ends hanging....it makes it easier to hold onto when removing from the toothpick.
Hold the toothpick at one end and one of the long pieces of wire in your fingers and simply twist the toothpick until the wire slides off. Of course if you use a different gauge wire then you might have to use something other than a toothpick to make your holder. I have just discovered that the toothpick is perfect for the 22 gauge. Trial and error...we all know that phrase ;)
Take your five pieces of wire and place them inside your holder. Crimp the holder to lock the wires in place. Spread the fingers apart. Take about 12-15 inches of your floral tape and wrap around the holder first and work your way up to the palm area. Stretch the tape as you go so you will get a nice snug fit. Wrap it around the palm and then start wrapping around the base of the fingers. Like a basket weave pattern until all the tape is gone. Cut the wires to the desired lengths. I like to take the tips of the fingers and gently bend the ends down and then crimp. This helps you not to get stuck and to keep it from poking through the clay so easily.
Take your flesh colored clay and make a thin roll twice the length of each finger. Take one and fold it in half and place over one of the finger wires. Smooth the seams on each side until the finger is shaped and secured to the palm of the hand. Repeat this for each finger. Shape two pieces of clay into a balls about the size of a quarter. Flatten them in the middle and place one in the palm of the hand. Gentle push with your thumb to give it a palm look. Place the other in the front of the hand...make sure you place this at the base of the fingers (this helps make knuckles) and against the inside of the thumb. Make another ball about the size of the bottom of a acrylic paint bottle. Roll the ball into a cylinder shape and cut in half. Place a piece on each side to make up the wrist and partial arm. Smooth and blend until no seams show. Remember, these are Santa's hand...a man with some age so if there are a few imperfections then it will just add to the aging of them. Using your sculpting tools and looking at your hands make the details for the knuckles, wrist and fingers. I like to add vein lines to mine. Look at your hands also in the position that you are going to place Santa's in.
Here is where the large sewing needle comes in. I use one of the big needles I use when making teddy bears and large cloth dolls. Take the eye part and gently push back the cuticle of each finger. Again, look at your own fingers to see what they look like. Take the transparent clay to make the fingernails. Roll a long piece out and cut tiny pieces off. Shape the piece into a tiny fingernail. Make sure you blunt cut the tip before you place on the finger. Take your sculpting tool or stiffened paint brush and gently push the nail into place. Once you have all the details of your hands complete, it's time to bake. Bake according to the clay manufacturer's directions. Once hands are cooled then if you need to you can file Santa's nails...just in case he got a hangnail during baking. I put several coats of varnish over the nails...make sure that each coat is thoroughly dry before adding another coat.