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Hand Casting

Age Range: 2-8
Difficulty: Moderate
Time Frame: 2 Days

      One of the most popular projects we have done. We have repeated the project multiple times not only with our kids but with various sets of kids and it was always a hit.

1) Plaster of Paris - available from any hardware or hobby store, usually comes in a bucket.
2) Plastic Container - has to be a container that's bendable and one with a base wide enough to fit your child's open palm with fingers spread out. (see Diagram 1). If you would rather keep the plaster inside the container, you may opt to use nonbendale ones
3) Mixing bowl (disposable)
4) Craft stick
5) Poster Paint
6) Brush
7) Acrylic Spray


      Mix the plaster of Paris 2 parts to 1 part water in the mixing bowl (follow directions on the plaster of paris box or tub) Pour the mixture to the plastic container to about 1 inch deep. Use your craft stick to smoothen the top (or sometimes, I rock the container or tap it against the table to let the plaster mixture settle to an even surface).

      Wait 3-10 minutes (depending on the plaster of paris that you get) for the plaster to start hardening. You can test the underside of the container - as the plaster gets warmer, this means the plaster is getting harder. I also test with a small paperclip making holes on the plaster waiting until I get the proper consistency. You want the plaster hard enough that it would hold a shape but soft enough that you can depress it.

      Place an open palm on top of the mixture and slowly press down until half the depth of a finger is attained. You don't want it too deep as this will deform the plaster too much, and you don't want it too shallow that there is barely any indentation and you cannot see the hand. This is the time also when I carve out the name of the person together with the date on any remaining open area of the surface.

      Leave the plaster in the container for at least an hour, preferably overnight, to harden fully. Flex the plastic container to separate it from the plaster and place it upside down to release the hardened plaster so it falls on the table. You should get a solid piece of plaster in the shape of the container with the imprint of the hand on one side and a smooth surface on the other, and with the child's name and the date.Paint the hardened plaster using poster paint. Best to use multiple bright colors, paint the handprint a different color from the surrounding area to make it pop-out more. Paint both faces of the figurine as well as the sides.

      Once the paint is dry, spray some clear laquer paint on top to protect the surface and make it shiny. Once this layer is dry you have a long lasting memorable product which your child can see, enjoy and look back on.

Addendum: Make sure to dispose of the unused plaster properly. Do not pour it down the toilet or down the sink as this will harden and block them. Place them inside a disposable plastic container, maybe even just use the container you mixed them in, and wait for it to dry. Then throw away the container with the plaster.

Hand Casting Cartoon

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Courtesy of Raven
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