Make Your Own Baby Footprint CastThere are a few good casting kits available online, but making your own is not as hard as you might think. Set aside an hour and a half on the first day and an hour on the second day. Gather up the following materials:
- Plaster of paris (about six cups)
- The bottom half of a paper half gallon milk carton (about 3-4 inches deep)
- Modeling clay (about 3 cups worth). Available from MisterArt.com. You can also use alginate casting material, which will give you a more detailed cast.
- A bottle of water (big enough to hold 2-3 cups)
- A container to mix the plaster of paris
- A spoon or stick to stir the plaster of paris
- A small portion of refined oil (like baby oil, or crisco). A dab will do.
1) Press the modeling clay into the bottom of the milk carton, making sure to leave the surface of the clay fairly level (so it can hold the plaster of paris like a cup). The modeling clay needs to be deep enough to accomodate the space your baby's hand is going to fill with an extra inch or so at the bottom.
2) Cover your baby's hand very lightly with a pure oil (olive oil or crisco will do). This will make pulling their hand out a little easier, and keep the clay from sticking to their hand, thus distorting the details of the cast.
3) Press your baby's hand deep into the modeling clay. If you want a shallow cast, have the clay reach halfway up the sides of your baby's hand. If you want a deeper cast - up to the back of their hand, you may have to press more modeling clay on top of their hand. If you add more clay, remember to add it to all the sides of the milk carton so the plaster of paris can be poured into the hole. You'll need to add the extra clay with your baby's hand in place - if you press on the clay after your baby's hand has been removed, you'll distort the cast.
4) Once you've got the clay around the hand the way you want it, gently pull your baby's hand out, being very careful not to move the clay. Keep in mind that the clay will air dry and harden if left exposed to the air for too long.
5) Now mix the plaster of paris. 1/2 cup water to 1/4 cup plaster of paris is a good ratio. Pour the plaster of paris into the water very slowly, adding a tablespoon or so at a time until the mixture has the consistency of a milkshake. Take care not to whip the mixture - you don't want bubbles in your cast.
6) Pour the plaster of paris into the hole in the modeling clay. Let the plaster harden completely for at least a day.
7) The next day, peel of the paper from the milk carton to expose the block. With a small hammer and a screw driver (or an awl) carefully tap around the block. The idea is to crack the casting material, but preserve the plaster of paris inside.
8) As the casting material falls away, your baby's hand will emerge. The flat side of the cast (which had been the surface of the plaster of paris) is an ideal surface for glueing the hands to a wooden mount, adding to a shadow box, or leaving as is for a paperweight. You can paint the hand if you like, too.
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