Making plaster molds of hands is a great family fun activity that doesn't cost a lot of money. Children especially enjoy this craft, and families can create lasting memories by creating plaster casts of their hands each year. Plaster hand and even foot casts can be personalized with paint, buttons or similar craft items and are usually light enough to hang on a wall or display proudly on a mantle.
The main ingredients and tools necessary to make plaster casts are:
- Plaster. You can find plaster of Paris in nearly any hardware store, however there are alternatives found in major craft stores that are somewhat easier to work with.
- Petroleum jelly. You can also buy mold release or vegetable oil spray.
- Mixing bowls. I'd suggest using disposable plastic or glass bowls, as plaster has a tendency to dry on the surface and render them useless for cooking.
- Molds. You can use old baking pans, shallow boxes, candle molds or even rubber soap molds. Molds specifically for use with plaster are also available in your local craft store.
- Mixing sticks. Paint sticks are great, because they are disposable.
- Measuring cups. Again, get from a dollar store, as they will likely only be good for crafts.
- Miscellaneous. Newspaper, water, glue, paint and either clear spray enamel or plaster fixative spray to make the molded hand or footprints water resistant.
Cover your working surface with newspaper or a disposable plastic table cover. Gather all your tools and ingredients prior to mixing your plaster, as you will have a limited amount of time to create the hand impressions before the plaster sets. Coat the mold with spray oil or petroleum jelly, making sure all small cracks are coated. Mix a moderate amount of plaster according to package directions, making just a little more than will fill your mold. Pour gently into the mold, lay the mold on a flat surface and lightly tap the sides to break up any air bubbles. Let sit for a minute or two, or until the plaster is able to hold an impression.
Now the fun begins! Have each person place their hand on the surface, pressing the fingers gently into the plaster to make a nicely detailed impression. If you wish, add decorative items, like stones or jewels to the plaster, pressing them in gently so they become embedded. Allow the mold to dry, usually overnight, or according to package directions and gently unmold the plaster handprints. Allow the children to decorate and personalize their plaster hands with paint and allow to dry thoroughly. Finally, spray the plaster molds with a fixative or enamel spray that will make it water resistant.