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Handiwork

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By Linda Owen, San Antonio
Renowned hand surgeon Dr. Adrian Flatt (shown left with former Philippines president Corazón Aquino) has been making models of celebrities’ hands for decades. Visitors can view his still-growing collection—more than 100 pairs of bronze hands, including Louis Armstrong’s (right)—at Dallas’ Truett Hospital, part of Baylor University Medical Center.
Dr. Adrian E. Flatt of Dallas has spent 41 years so far chasing down celebrities in order to make molds of their hands. The famed hand surgeon’s unusual hobby began in 1963, when he caught up with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on a railroad car. Besides “Ike” and six other U.S. presidents, hand “donors” have included astronauts, Olympic gold medalists, artists, aviators, entertainers, scientists, and international leaders. The collection of 116 pairs of bronze hands is on permanent display in the lobby of Truett Hospital, at Baylor University Medical Cen—ter (BUMC) in Dallas, where Dr. Flatt served as chief of orthopedics from 1982 until 1992.

A video introducing the display explains Dr. Flatt’s process and shows him casting the hands of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Dr. Flatt uses a flexible alginate—a mixture of a seaweed derivative and water—to make the molds, which take about five minutes to set. The casts are bronzed, with the final result showing fine details of each hand—even fingerprints, hair, and pores.

Actors Paul Newman and Katharine Hepburn put their hands in Dr. Flatt’s “molding box,” as did trumpeter Louis Armstrong, Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, illusionist David Copperfield, ice skater Peggy Fleming, wrestler André the Giant (whose wrist measured a foot in circumference), jockey Willie Shoemaker, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, artist Norman Rockwell, and former Philippines president Corazón Aquino.

The exhibit is free and open 24 hours a day (parking on Gaston Avenue, across from Truett Hospital; 800/4-BAYLOR).

Read 5677 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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