Monday, August 13, 2012

Plaster of Paris

This was one of my favorite things we did this summer! I really have so many things I would like to share with you, and so little time to put it together. We've had a wonderful summer! As soon as we get back in the routine of school, I should have a lot more free time to blog about the things I've passed over these last few months.

A couple weeks ago we made plaster molds at the lake. It was so much fun to go through the house and find different items we wanted to use for our molds. I told the kids to look for something that would represent summer to them. I figured this would be a fun keepsake and decoration all in one.

I really wanted our molds to be Christmas ornaments, but I didn't remember until almost all our molds were made. So we now have several sand molds for display around the house, and one new Christmas ornament. Oh well... next time, I'll make sure to remember!

You have to be sure to find the sand that is a little damp, and packed down pretty good. If the sand is too dry, it won't hold its shape very well. The only problem with it being really packed sand, it's kind of hard to make the mold. Some of the items we brought just weren't strong enough to be pushed into the sand, and some didn't have sharp enough edges. I actually found that the cookie cutters worked best!

Once you have your mold ready, you can mix up the plaster of Paris. I looked for this at craft stores, but ended up finding it in the paint section at Lowes. You mix 2 parts plaster to 1 part water. The thicker it is, the harder time you will have of pouring it into your mold. You also don't want it too watery, or it won't hold a shape.

Mix very small amounts! The plaster dries so quickly! I tried to fill up several hand prints one time, and by the third hand it was already too dry and I messed up my niece's hand print beyond repair.

Also, make sure to use a container you can throw out, or rinse it out in the lake or body of water you're using before you go home. You do not want to wash this out in your home sink! If you let it sit for a while, it will dry out, and you should be able to chip it away from your container.

To make a Christmas ornament, I brought several plastic straws with me, cut into little pieces. Before I poured in the plaster, I stuck a straw in the sand where I wanted the hole to be. I didn't try to get the straw out once it was dry either; I figured this might break the plaster mold. I simply cut the straw down to size, and then ran a piece of ribbon through the hole. I like how it turned out! (You can see my ornament at the top of this post.)

We all tried to make a hand print mold. This turned out to be rather difficult because of how packed down the sand was. My boys were never successful in getting a mold of their hand. They gave up quickly. I always like to make my projects for my husband, so for me I did the I Love You sign with my hand.

Once the plaster has dried for about 30 minutes, you can very delicately remove it from the sand. I always tried to dig around the area to loosen the sand before I pulled out my plaster mold. Once it was dug up, I swished it around in the lake to clean it off a bit. It seems to me they are very messy and will continually be losing bits of sand long after they have dried.

I thought the project would be fun for the kids, but they actually were much more interested in playing in the sand. In the end, it was perfect entertainment for me. We spent over 3 hours there; and the time went by so quickly! I loved it! I included my kids as much as they wanted, but didn't stress myself out over their lack of interest.

Some of our finished products... Zech chose to make a Lego mold.

Ariel and Gabe both wanted something to represent the week we spent at church camp. Ariel's mold is the trophy which commemorates her winning the Fruit of the Spirit award. Gabe had the idea of making a school bus; as we spent several hours riding on one to Augusta and back.


I think the molds make the perfect keepsake! And not only that, they are simple yet fun to make!

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