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How to Pour Plaster Moulds {Camp Craft Idea}

I’ve been a little MIA here at home the past few days.  As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I work at a camp {and sometimes I write a blog for it here}.  One of my responsibilities camp-wise is to look after the craft shop.  By “look after it” means I organize the crafts and  supplies and our young staff members do  the day-to-day teaching.

I try to find some fun, new crafts each year (which is sometimes a challenge!), but I always keep two crafts that are a big tradition {and favorites}.  One is leather work (bookmarks and small projects) and the other is plaster mottos.  Plaster mottos are shapes made out of plaster of paris that can be painted and hung for decor.  It is an incredibly versatile craft age-wise.  Kids as young as 2 up to senior citizens adults like to paint these things.

tea pot

We go through hundreds of them a year.

Which brings me to the past 3 days.

It was time to restock the empty shelves.  I thought you might enjoy seeing the process, and if you have a large group to teach crafts to, this may be an economical option for you.

I use this plaster:

DSC_6184

“No 1 Pottery Plaster”.  I did a quick internet search on it and found it here for $14.95 per 50 pound bag.  We were able to get ours through a local building supply store.

**WARNING!!:  This is a messy job!  Prepare yourself and the location  accordingly.  Wear an apron to protect your clothes, rubber gloves to protect your skin (if only I could find some with short enough fingers for my hands…!), and lay paper or cardboard on the work surface and floor.  You also need to read all the warnings for the plaster itself.

Here’s how the whole process goes around here.  I’m so grateful for our former craft shop lady who patiently taught me her system that she had perfected for over 20 years.  This is all her idea…  (Thanks, Joyce!)

First of all, you will need these basic supplies:

supplies

A bucket of clean, lukewarm water with a 1 cup scoop

A dirty, old bucket with water  for rinsing (and a scrub brush is incredibly helpful!)

A rubber pottery mixing bowl

An old knife

An old measuring cup for the plaster powder

A spatula

Plaster moulds (of which we have a plethora!  Remember, we’ve been doing this for over 30 years…  You can purchase some for yourself here.)

Wire bent for hangars

HOW TO POUR THE MOULDS:

Set up all the moulds so that they won’t tip when you pour the plaster in.  Boxes and cottage cheese containers work well for this:

moulds on boxes

When you are ready to mix, pour 3/4 cup water into the mixing bowl.

water

While stirring with a knife, add the plaster powder to the water.

DSC_6195

This is where it’s just a little tricky.  The amount of plaster powder needed changes depending on the temperature of the water, the temperature of the room, and the humidity in the air.  As a general rule, I used about 3 1/2 cups of powder per batch.  You want it smooth, but slightly thick…

consistancy

Be careful, however, that it isn’t too thick or you won’t get it all poured out before it hardens!  Don’t worry.  After the first few batches, you’ll have it all figured out!Smile

Pour quickly into moulds, remembering that the plaster starts to set as soon as it hits the water…

pour

Shake and bump the moulds after pouring to get the plaster evenly distributed and the bubbles to float to the top.  Stick a wire hanger into the back after shaking and bumping.

insert hanger

hanger in plaster

One batch filled 7 small/medium sized moulds.

7 moulds 2

Once the plaster is all poured out, scrape the bowl as clean as you can {quickly!} with the spatula.  Immediately rinse all tools and the bowl in the bucket of rinse water. {Thanks, Taryn, for rinsing out that bowl countless times…}

rinse

***This is very, very important! NEVER EVER rinse out your tools in a sink…  It would be equivalent to pouring cement down your drain!!! …

The moulds should be hardened and ready to pop out in about an hour (or less).  They actually heat up as they are curing, and then when they feel cold again, they are ready to pop out.

set plaster

Simply turn it over in your hand, give it a gentle “SMACK”, and out it will come!  If you treat your moulds carefully, they will last for years and years…  Some of ours are antiques, I’m sure.

close up fish

We repeated this process as quickly as humanly possible for 2 1/2 work days.  I lost count of how many moulds we now have…  But, I’m guessing that each 50 pound bag will yield at least 150 small-medium moulds and 60 larger ones. {We’ve poured 3 bagsful and have 2 more to go…}

As they are drying, make sure there is some air space to flow around the back of them, as well.  They are quite porous and filled with moisture, so you want to prevent mold from forming on the backs.

DSC_6189

We use powder paint mixed with water for the small children to paint with, and acrylic paints for the adults.

The “how to paint” tutorial will have to wait for another day… {But, honestly, I think some of them are pretty neat just white!}

Linking up:  {aka}|design

 

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65 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your process, Rita! I made plaster coasters for family and friends about 10 years ago. I had forgotten how fun it was…and messy! Oh, and the feel of the dried plaster gave me the heebie jeebies…sort of like nails on a chalkboard. hehe! I can’t believe your well on your way to make 5 bag worth of molds! That’s a lot of pieces!

  2. Oh Rita, thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories! When I was a child we painted these in school as well as the youth center when we were stationed in Germany…. it was such fun but I had forgotten all about it until you wrote about them. Now I am going to have to see about getting some molds to make some decorations for hooks.

    And I must say I am IMPRESSED with the number you have poured and do pour each year!! Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Dear manager

    good day !
    i was learnt you make plaster crafts ,right ?we are intersted your products ,i also want to know what is the material you use to make moulds ?

    kind regrads

    wenson

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