Plaster Crafts

Written by Shirley Parker
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Plaster crafts, that is, making small items from Plaster of Paris, are messy though happy undertakings in their initial stages. The kitchen or any place indoors isn't the best place to work. Moving the occasion outside on to a porch where newspapers can be spread out on the ground is a better idea. However, you'll want a calm day or at least one where breezes are slight enough that the newspapers are easily anchored.

Another good idea is to haul the old clothes out of the closet, the ones you save for when you're painting, washing the car, or pulling weeds. You'll also want to use some containers that can be thrown away after the molds are set and popped out. Aluminum pie plates work well for certain crafts, and paper cups for others. If you want to make something in a tube, like the one inside a roll of toilet tissue, you'll have to tape it on one end and wrap it with duct tape. This helps it withstand the wet plaster. Large, empty margarine tubs are good for mixing the plaster before pouring it into the molds.

The instructions for mixing the plaster are on the package. For crafts, the plaster should be stiff but still creamy when it's poured. It sets up quickly after it's been mixed with water. If you're doing a child's footprint or handprint, have them put their foot or hand into the mold before it starts to harden. After the imprint is made, rinse that hand or foot in water. You can fasten an item, such as a paper clip, into the plaster before it sets, so the mold will have a built-in hanger. After it's dry, you'll want to write the child's name and the date somewhere on the mold with a marker that won't wash off.

Other Plaster Crafts for Children

Children can make sidewalk chalks by mixing tempera paint into the plaster before it's poured into paper cups or egg cartons. It will be dry enough to use within a half hour but won't set completely for 24 hours. Commercial molds are available to create appealing puppies, kittens, lambs, teddy bears and many more shapes. Some suppliers sell kits that include acrylic paints that dry with a shiny finish. The ornaments will look like ceramics without having been glazed or fired.

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