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Basic Plaster Craft Instructions
Part I - Mold Preparation

By Bob Sherman

Plaster craft is a fun hobby which allows you to turn a few pennies worth of materials into beautiful wall hangings and sculptures. Although there are several techniques used for plaster casting, in this tutorial series we will be discussing the simplest method - making flat back plaster castings in open top molds. Most common plaster molds are this style, but chocolate molds also work well for plaster. Avoid two piece or 3D molds until you have some experience.

 

PLEASE NOTE!! - Plaster crafting is fairly safe if you observe these safety rules when mixing plaster. Once hardened there is little or no hazard from handling plaster items:

About Plaster

Plaster is used throughout this article to describe casting products containing mostly plaster of paris. The two most common are plaster and hydrocal.

Plaster Casting Supplies

The following plaster craft supplies will be needed to follow along with this series of articles. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description and ordering information.

Item Amount Used
Plaster Mold A medium sized mold of your choice. A suitable chocolate mold may be used if you prefer.
Mixing Bowl A flexible mixing bowl simplifies cleanup, but you may use any plastic bowl.
Plaster Blender This requires a power drill to use, but makes blending the plaster much easier. If you don't have a power drill, a potato masher may be used to mix the plaster manually. For very small batches you could even use a stick.
Airid Optional, but recommended. This will help eliminate air bubbles in your castings.
Plaster or Hydrocal We sell these to accommodate our customers, but you may wish to source it locally since the shipping cost is high due to the weight. Plaster may be found in most home centers and hardware stores. Hydrocal is much harder to find locally.
Scale Optional. Plaster can be mixed by guesswork, but a scale will allow good repeatable results every time. I use an Ultraship 55 scale for most plaster work, but any moderately accurate scale that can weigh in 1 ounce increments should suffice.
Hangers If making wall hangings you will need some hangers.
Pigment Optional. Useful if you desire to color the plaster without using paint.
Rice Bag or Sand Box Most plaster molds do not sit flat and it will be necessary to support them. More details on this will be explained below
Knife I use a standard utility knife but any semi sharp knife will suffice.
Toothpicks To support hangers if necessary.

 

Step 1
Cover your work surface with newspaper or a piece of vinyl. As you can see from this photo plaster casting is a bit messy so it is important to protect your countertops.


Step 2
Inspect the mold to make sure it is clean and dry - any dirt will show up on the finished casting.


Step 3
Most molds will not sit flat on the counter so it is necessary to support them for use. I find the simplest way is to use a zip lock bag with a few pounds of rice in it. Rice bags are easy to pack and store when not in use, and made with common materials most folks have handy. A box of sand works well also, but is more difficult to make and store when not in use.


Step 4
The surface tension of the water in plaster tends to trap air causing pinholes in the finished casting. Airid is a product designed to break that surface tension, minimizing the chance of trapped air. Spray or wipe a thin coat of Airid into the mold (optional).


Step 5
Wiggle the mold down onto your rice bag or sandbox until it appears level. You are now ready to begin mixing your plaster.


Click Here To Continue To Part 2 - Mixing Plaster


Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common plaster crafting practices as of the time of this writing - September 2006. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

This article is provided free of charge for use. Candles may be made and sold using this design royalty free.

Web sites may use links to this page without restriction.

No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication elsewhere without express permission from Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc. with the following exceptions:

All other requests need to be submitted via our reprint request form.

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Copyright © 2003 - 2007 Bob Sherman
http://www.onestopcandle.com

 

 


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