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MARAGON - ARTS & CRAFTS
MARAGON - ARTS & CRAFTS
Casting, Moulding & Modelling - Materials & Kits
Casting, Moulding & Modelling - Materials & Kits
Cassini's Plaster Imprints & Impressions For Outdoors
Plaster hand and foot prints are always great fun to do and the setting characteristics of Cassini's lends itself to this type of work - and the finished mould doesn't need any form of sealing or protection, etc.
Plastercraft can be quite messy, so put masses of newspaper down on the floor
(plastic sheeting can be rather slippy), and have all the right tools to hand. Never put plaster (set
or unset) down the drain as it will cause a blockage, so if you are cleaning utensils as you go
along, wash them in a bucket, and then throw the waste-water into the garden - or wait until the
plaster has thoroughly set, crack it off and put the fragments in the bin. Use plastic utensils
throughout if you can because cleaning-up will be that much easier.
You will need about 400g of Cassiniís plaster to make a 3 or 4 month-old baby's foot imprint in a
dish/plate of about 35mm deep and 100x150mm, or a circular mould of about 140mm diameter
of the same depth. An adult hand will need about a kilogram of plaster in a 300mm circular dish,
etc. but draw an outline of the foot, etc. on a piece of paper so that you can see what proportions
the print will have before deciding on the frame shape and size - for example, you can emphasize
the tininess of a baby's foot by using a comparatively large frame.
You should use a slightly stronger mix than you would normally use for a flow-cast, so reckon on
280ml of water for each 1kg of Cassini's plaster used, and do all the weighing with a set of
accurate kitchen scales. You will need a mixing bowl which will hold about 10x the amount of
water you are going to use so that you have plenty of space for mixing; use a plastic jug or bowl
in preference to glass, ceramic or metal. You will also need a mixing tool (a table knife is fine, but
spoons can clog up). It's a good idea to have a trial run with, say, 100g of plaster in a plastic cup
to watch the stages the plaster goes through after mixing.
Carry out all of the work either indoors or in subdued light, and once the impression has been made place an opaque cover over it for an hour*. Cassiniís dries to the most pleasing stone-white of any plaster, but the combination of strong light and air on the open surface of the unset plaster causes oxidisation - it will appear distinctly beige and have a slightly glazed appearance; this doesnít matter normally, because the open surface of a cast is usually the base of the finished piece, but the poured surface of an impression is permanently visible. *See separate sheet for photo-masking work using Cassini's.
Rather than pouring the plaster directly into a final frame at this stage, you may find it easier to
work with a temporary mould of the right size - or slightly larger, then cut it to the right shape and
size later. Of course, you may wish to leave the mould 'as-cast', but in any case, use cling-film or
a bin-liner, etc. to prevent the plaster sticking to any temporary framework, etc.
To prevent the foot or hand sinking in and leaving little-or-no plaster beneath it, it's usually best to
make a 4 - 5mm plaster bed in the mould dish or box first; this bed will also make it much easier
to keep the foot/hand stable and at the right depth. The fixing/hanging device (string, hook, etc.) can be embedded at this stage, or a hole can be drilled all the
way through once the whole mould is finished. When this bed-layer has set (about an hour), mix
up enough plaster for the main mould.
Younger subjects are not particularly co-operative, so work in comfort on or near the floor, with
some toys or other distraction handy. An assistant will make the whole process much easier.
Make sure the foot/hand is clean, with no lint between fingers/toes. Apply some light baby oil or
vaseline, but get rid of any excess - you only need a very thin film.
Imprints and impressions are notoriously susceptible to surface bubbles, which are usually due to air entrainment at the mixing stage - but
with Cassini's plaster is also a symptom of too much water in the mix. Scrape the sides of the
container to get any dry material mixed in as well.
Now pour the plaster for the main mould on top of the bed-layer. Clear any obvious bubbles. At
about 6 - 7 minutes after you started mixing the plaster, it will start to thicken: if you touch it
lightly and quickly you will leave a slight depression - but the plaster won't quite stick to your finger.
This is the ideal time to make the impression - if you press the foot or hand any earlier than this,
the plaster is still too liquid and sharp ridges will develop where the plaster has climbed up the
sides of the fingers/toes: these look can look coarse and unfinished. Always ensuring that
fingers or toes donít plunge in so deep that the set plaster traps them, press the foot or hand in
very slowly down on to the bed-layer, but make sure it doesn't wriggle from side to side. Ideally it
should be left/kept absolutely still for 6 - 7 minutes before being very gently eased free. Now
cover the mould to keep the light out and leave for an hour before inspecting/moving. Clean up
all the tools, etc, in warm water as soon as possible.
Once the hour is up, place the mould under cover where it won't be disturbed, with lots of air
around it. Leave the mould for a few hours before cutting it to shape (with a fret-saw, etc); the plaster strengthens considerably during the first 24 hours so don't leave it too long before shaping it. Leave the piece another
48 hours if you want to decorate it, but wash it first to remove residual vaseline, etc. Cassini's
doesn't need a sealer, so you can paint directly on to it. Whether decorated or left 'as-cast', take the same general care with objects made with Cassini's as you would with natural stone.