Modelling Myee's hands

by Kate C
Publish date
16 April 2013
Comments (9)

Last Friday Myee Patten, daughter of MV staff member Will Patten, came to work with her dad to stick her hands in a bucket of goo. This might seem an odd school holiday activity, but it will help exhibition curators demonstrate the toys of Aboriginal children in the Toy Stories section of First Peoples. For scale and context, children’s objects are best shown in the hands of children– so we needed to model some hands for this important task. Myee was willing to let us borrow her hands for the job.

Girl having her hands moulded Myee with her dad, Will, sitting very still and waiting patiently as museum preparators make a mould of her hands.
Source: Museum Victoria

This pink goo, or alginate, is most commonly used by dentists to make impressions of teeth. It’s non-toxic, flexible when set, and smells just like a dentist’s office! It’s also extremely fast-setting so the preparators mixed it up as quickly as possible and poured it over Myee’s hands as she held the poses needed to demonstrate the objects in use.

Two men stirring pink mixture Preparators Pete and Steven in a stirring frenzy as they mix up the pink goo as quickly as they can!
Source: Museum Victoria

Myee’s first job was to hold her hands as if cradling a baby, to support a clay doll from Milingimbi in Arnhem Land in the 1930s. The second time round, Myee held a fragment of lignum as if she’d just flicked a mudswitch, a popular game among children growing up along the Murray River.

Pete and Myee with the mould Pete and Myee with the freshly-set mould of her hands.
Source: Museum Victoria

Myee did an excellent job of staying completely still while the alginate set. Once it was solid – and you can tell this because the colour changes from purple, to pink, through to white –  Myee carefully wriggled out of the mould, leaving behind an exact impression of her hands.

plastic tubs of liquid plaster Mixing up the plaster ready to pour into the mould. This is a special mix of plaster and cement that sets extremely hard.
Source: Museum Victoria

Minutes after her hands were free, the preparators filled the moulds with hard-setting liquid plaster. A few hours later, they extracted the casts. The preps will remove any rough bits and prepare the casts for their important job of display. And in years to come, when Myee visits with her school or family, she can point out to her friends how she lent us a hand (or two)!

Removing the cast hands from mould Preparators Brendan and Pete carefully removing the cast of Myee's hands from the mould. This model will support the clay doll.
Source: Museum Victoria

cast of hand A cast of Myee's hand holding a piece of twig. The process that the museum's preparators use captures every skin wrinkle and tiny detail.
Source: Museum Victoria


MV News: Will Patten "Talking to everybody"

MV Blog: Mudswitches on the plaza

Comments (9)

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Kimberley Moulton 16 April, 2013 17:22
Great job Myee, too Deadly!! Looking AMAZING!
Vicki 16 April, 2013 21:01
Love this story especialky the pics najes me cry and proud at sane time! Vicki:)
Rosemary 17 April, 2013 11:06
The best hands are those that help so a very big thank you to Myee for lending us hers.
Alice 17 April, 2013 11:12
Amazing indeed!
Robyn Ellis 17 April, 2013 14:41
Beautiful job, Myee!
Bec 18 April, 2013 09:16
Great story Kate. I love hearing about the adventure's down in the Prep's department. Those guys have all the fun.
Siobhan 19 April, 2013 13:53
Great story, and lovely job Myee and preps!
Lee-Anne 24 April, 2013 12:08
What a gorgeous story and a wonderful job by Myee!
Ella B 13 July, 2013 17:01
Great work Myee and museum preparators! I look forward to seeing these little hands in the new Bunjilaka exhibition!
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