Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hand or Footprint Casting Tutorial


Making a plaster cast of your hand print or footprint is another way to look at the casting process. Easy, because you just press your hand or foot into clay leaving an imprint behind, a bit like when you leave a footprint in sand at the beach or a boot print in mud. Then you fill up the ‘hand or foot shaped space’ with plaster. When the plaster sets and hardens you have a replica of your hand print.  

 So what do you need? And where can you get it?

  • Something to cast in that is big enough for your hand or foot. A shallow dish. Plastic and foil are good because they are flexible...or try as I have  and use a silicon cake mould. I got mine from the op-shop.

  • Clay or play-doh from your craft store

  • Plaster also known as plaster of Paris. You can buy small amounts of plaster from Hardware stores (like Bunnings) or craft stores (like Eckersleys). I get through a lot so I buy mine in 20kg bags.  There is also light weight plaster you can get from craft shops.
  • A container to mix your plaster and water. You can use a jug or a small bucket.
  • Water 
  • Spoon or paddle pop stick for mixing
  • To be safe wear a dust mask when scooping or pouring plaster powder.



Time to start!

Make a smooth layer of clay or play-doh in the bottom of your 'casting dish'

Press your hand firmly into the clay. You may need to push your fingers in further with your other hand or get a friend to help.


Remove your hand and see the imprint left behind

If you have a deep dish like mine, you won't need to fill up all the space with plaster. To remind my self I mark a line to the thickness I want. 
  •  Making the plaster. Follow the instructions on your packet! Some products can be different.

  • I always add plaster to water. Pour some water into a jug or bucket and sprinkle the plaster onto the water. You can see it dissolve into the water. When it stops dissolving and you can see plaster on the surface, you can stop adding. Then stir your plaster (using a spoon or paddle) mix gently until it's the consistency of a smoothie or pancake batter.

    Pour your plaster into your dish and tap the sides of your container to encourage any bubbles to rise to the surface.
        Now you need to wait for the plaster to set. Plaster, as it hardens goes through an 'exothermic' reaction. That means it produces heat. As the plaster sets, it starts off cool then it heats up and then cools again. Once it has cooled after heating you know that it is almost set and ready.

a warning...Don't submerge your hand or foot in a container of plaster while it is setting. Because of the exothermic chemical reaction (the plaster generates heat) your skin can get burned if it is surrounded by a thick layer of plaster.

When the plaster is set, remove your mould. Peel and clean off the clay.

And now you have a plaster cast of your hand! 

Let the plaster dry thoroughly for a couple of days and then you can paint and decorate your cast. Or drill some holes so you can hang it up.  Have a search on the Internet to get your imagination flowing.


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