Making and Painting Plaster Bisques/Molds/Casts

 photo IMG_1739_zps6395124e.jpgWhen I was a kid, there was this place called Plaster Playground not too far from my house. You'd pick out a piece of molded plaster (I only recently learned these are called plaster bisques) and paint it, then bring it home. All the cool kids in my class had birthday parties there, but it was very expensive, and in my house, we simply didn't have birthday parties at Plaster Playground.

However, my mother is very inventive and came up with great alternative ideas for birthday parties, and one thing she did many years for our birthdays was make her own plaster bisques at home, and we'd decorate them at our birthday party. I remember one year I had a Balto themed birthday party, and she made Balto (or wolf, most likely) shaped plaster bisques for us to paint.
My mom would put hooks in the plaster so that they could easily be hung up on walls; my bedroom walls were filled with so many years' worth of birthday party plaster paintings.

I hadn't given much thought to plaster painting until recently. However, when we came back from our anniversary trip, we brought back some gifts for the kids, including a play makeup set for Anneliese. The packaging for the makeup set inspired me, because there was so much detailing on it that it felt a shame to throw it out- I thought "Won't this make a really awesome plaster thing to paint?"

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To make plaster bisques, it really is quite simple. You first take a mold. Could be something like this, or it could be a silicon baking mold. Or a chocolate mold. (If you look on ebay, there's endless amounts of molds, and all sorts of different designs- just type in a word and mold and you'll find things- truck mold, ballerina mold, horse mold, etc...)

You buy plaster of paris (aka plaster) in any hardware store. Though they also sell it at craft stores, it's generally more expensive there than at a hardware store. Locally I pay a little over a dollar for over 2 lbs of plaster.

Pour plaster powder into a container, and add a little water at a time, mixing well, until you get a consistency somewhere between cookie dough and pancake batter- not runny, but not so thick either...

Put this wet plaster into the mold, filling it to the top, and flattening it out. Shake/bang the mold to try to remove bubbles. If you want to be able to hang it up, add a loop made out of wire into the wet plaster.

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Let the plaster dry for a few hours. After a few hours, you can remove the plaster from the mold, and let it dry fully outside the mold. You can then add more plaster mixture to make more plaster bisques in the same mold.

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Once it's dry, it's time to paint!

I just used gouache paint with my kids, since that's what I'm able to get most cheaply. Acrylic paint also works though.

Just lay newspaper out over your work surface, put out your plaster bisques, and get to work.

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I gave each kid a plate with a little of each of the primary colors as well as black and white, which they then mixed as they saw fit, experimented and figured out how to make the different colors, and then painted their ceramics with that.

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When you're finished painting, while it is still wet, you can sprinkle glitter on it as well.

I didn't bother.

The kids love their project.

I will be hanging these up in their bedroom to decorate and to show off their work.

Total cost was negligible, since for all these molds, I didn't even end up using a pound of plaster.

Totally worth it.

And I already know what I'll be doing for Anneliese's birthday party, come December...

Have you ever heard of or gone to a place where they paint ceramic bisques? Have you ever made these yourself at home? Does it look like something you or your kids would enjoy?

Linking up to WFMW

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Very nice - you can also take plaster with you when you go to the beach. Mix it up in a bucket and then make hand prints in the sand and fill it with plaster and wait for it to dry - hopefully before the tide comes in.

  2. I definitely want to try this.

    Love the idea, especially for a birthday party!

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