Design Competition: Plaster Casting

For the Summer Show we’ve used Sign Language and the imagery of hands as a starting point for our image making. During my initial research into hands, I’d seen plaster casting as a way of producing hands in a cheaper way than ordering wooden hands that artists reference.

Me and Jennifer met up in order to try out casting a hand, we simply used alginate powder, plaster of Paris powder, water and a container.

  1. Stirred the alginate powder with water in a 1 cup to 2 cups ratio, nearly filling the container.
  2. Positioned my hand pointing like a manicule and inserted into the alginate mixture. Kept in the mixture for at least 10 minutes (we wanted to ensure our mold was perfect).

  3. Pulled the hand out. Mixed the plaster of Paris according to package directions, and poured into mold to fill.

  4. Remove entire mold from container.

The step by step was easy enough to follow but that didn’t mean that this came without its learn curves. First up we figured out that the container we used needed to be more bucket-like because the bowl didn’t leave me enough room to get my wrist and arm in. We need the cast to have these details because for the Summer Show we wanted these casts to hold things, see mock up above as an example of how we’d like to display some of the digital work produced this year.

The next thing that we learnt was a little plaster of Paris goes a long way, especially when producing something as small as a hand! I think Jennifer worked it out to be a small bowl of the mixture can perfectly fill the mold. This brought us onto issue number 3… When we removed the cast from the mold it was missing a finger and other sections of fingers. Next time we try this method there are two things we can try to solve this issue – firstly I was speaking to Will and he said that we should have put a pin hole in the mold and it would let some air out and this would allow the plaster to distribute evenly. The next thing Jennifer wanted to try was shaking the container once we’ve poured in the plaster to make sure it’s moved down all nooks.

Overall while there were a lot of things we can improve next time we do this, I’m happy with the method as it picked up some lovely details of the hand and I can really see this working in the Summer Show. It’s also given us other routes to explore with scanning in the plaster cast hands rather than our own.. Stay tuned!

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Plaster Cast Test | 2017 | Jennifer Garwood & Hannah Phillips

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