The superhuman work can be found in the details
When losing a hand or fingers, many people must adopt an artificial hand or artificial fingers, however, sometimes they are discouraged with what they’ve been given, as most of them expect the ones that are reproduced exactly the same as the hands or fingers they have lost.
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I must say that what is supplied under the present Japanese medical and health care system is a cosmetic glove which can be recognized as an artificial hand or finger at a glance and far from the appearance of the person’s lost hand or finger. It may sound bitter but could be described that they are just rubber gloves made of vinyl chloride or silicone coated by skin-color with white nails being depicted over the coat.
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Atelier Natural (“Hiraoka Works”) located in Omiya-ku, Saitama-city, Saitama prefecture, in Japan is a nest of a proud craftsman making artificial hands, artificial fingers, artificial legs, and artificial ears and noses. Hironori Hiraoka, 36 years old, is a prosthetist for fully custom-made prosthesis, whose works are appraised as the finest artificial human body parts being reproduced as if looked like the same as person’s real body.
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Let’s look at an example of a woman who has lost her right hand. First a mold is made with her left hand to produce a yellow plaster model, which will be reversed to make a red wax mold. Even if he starts shaping the model now as it is, he can probably develop it into an artificial hand properly reproducing fingerprints and wrinkles.
For Hiraoka, this is not the stage to withdraw and he does not compromise. He starts using a medical device called ‘spatula’, by which he further add carving on finger joints and nails that haven’t been fully copied from the mold. This extra touches are as fine as 0.1mm to 0.2mm. In fact spatula is often used in dentistry and Hiraoka even creates his special made ones for his work. He says, “Women customers do much care about the beauty of their nails, of course. I can’t cut corners here.” He doesn’t almost breath when he carves the fingertips where the skin slightly lifts up from the nails, or gaps, hangnails, and rippling bumps on the surface of the nails. It’s not just the back of the hand, but wrinkles, palms and fingerprints on the palms are all depicted with a spatula.
Hiraoka makes a silicone cosmetic glove coated with a basic skin color tone over the foundation of the red wax model of a woman customer’s right hand. He demonstrates the true essence of the craftsmanship here too. White, yellow, red, brown, bluish—varied skin colors are produced by his tactful technique that he paints the color from the back of the cosmetic glove, the artificial hand. He doesn’t stop painting like a realist painter. “I finish the work applying the color from the front side as well. Many prosthetist may not do this in their works, instead they only apply the color from front side. I wouldn’t do it because if you paint the colors just over the front surface, you will lose those coating or colors will be fade away when the artificial hand or fingers have got rubbed. ”
The skin color of human hand doesn’t consist of one color. If you say “I know that already,” please stare at your hand again. How many colors are appearing in your hands? A finger tip could be reddish, while the base of the finger nail is white. The wrinkled parts are darker, and the strength of red color varies between the back of a hand and a palm. Also the blue lines of veins run in light and shade. The color changes when you open your hand as well as when you hold your hand.
Hironori Hiraoka mixes paints and overcoats the indefinite number of colors from the back of the artificial hand. Surprisingly, the basic pigment is only five colors—–Yellow, red, blue, black, and white. “I’m making basic skin colors human have by nature, say they are about fifty basic colors. Each color of those basic fifty has different intensity, such as reddish red, yellowish red, or pink which contains strong orange.”
If stains or small moles are found on the healthy hand (the remaining hand), they will be depicted in an exquisite position on the artificial hand. In fact, how a skin color appears on someone’s hand is the reflection of the tissues and blood vessels below the skin to the surface layer. That is why Hironori Hiraoka paints colors over the back side of the artificial hand or fingers. Nearly stopping his breath, he moves a brush with an accuracy of 0.02 mm width in a similar way as he caves wrinkles, nails or fingerprints on artificial hand models.
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