Easy Décor – Plaster Molds

There are some crafts that require an artistic flair – for color, texture or competency with a technique. There are others that you just simply follow instructions and do, yet are rewarded with a beautiful piece.  Décor from molds fit the latter. When I’ve seen “ugly” pieces – it’s always that they were simply overdone. Less can be so much more with paint. I’m a fan of straight spray paint or spray paint then antique coating or shading – nothing more.

Plaster is normally only used for inside pieces, but I’ve done items, sprayed three coats of acrylic sealer on all sides and left them outside for more than 5 years before I tossed in desire of something new. This was in my old location that didn’t freeze, but did pretty much have rain with constant dampness from December through March. The items were also not directly on the ground.  Right now I have a sealed plaster Greenman, tiles and Greenlady on my porch although we’re into the ‘storms a few times/week’ mode.

For my new home I’d chosen an Egyptian theme for my office in honor of some papyrus and a plaster tile I’d brought back from a trip there.  A current search for plaster molds yields 1,100+ plaster and cement molds on ebay.  The molds I’m showing were from Queen of Crete, but I haven’t seen her offering items for the last year or so.

I mentioned eHow’s instructions here and there are a multitude of videos on how to mix plaster to help you out. Regular Plaster of Paris works fine – some sculptures may go up a notch although I have not found the need. Main tips are to be sure your mold is on a level surface before you begin and tap it once you pour your plaster in. When I have larger items, I cut a piece of plastic screen or some muslin in press it into the back of the piece lightly (don’t want bits to scrape what will be the front of the piece). The ones here are all displayed on plate holders – to hang on a wall, balance a small dowel across the back of your mold after you’ve poured the plaster in and lay a wire hook on that towards the top of the piece (the hook would simply sink without the dowel to keep it in place).

 

Plaster is not indestructible. In the past 10 years I’ve had 2 pieces break when knocked over – so I’m pretty happy with my track record.

I actually think it would be faster to just pour a new one of Hathor (above) then try to glue this one. They were all allowed to thoroughly dry, then painted with a Rustoleum Metallic spray paint. So simple. So fast. Yet everyone who has seen them has always commented and assumed I’d picked them up in Egypt. I get to pick the color and the copper was so perfect for the mood and décor in the office. If you’ve been afraid of plaster – just pick up a small bag at the hardware store, get a mold and give it a go. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

Woo Hoo, Fall’s finally here

Ah, the heat wave is over and we’ve had a welcome bit of fall weather.  Grabbed the Halloween decorations from the garage (hint, if you live on a dusty, dirt road – place even your bins into plastic garbage bags, sealed tightly with a twisty). So, what shall I start sharing first?

 

My current thing is black cats.  Guess why?  Meet my home mates.  (yes, her blankie has some machine embroidery on it, Embroidery Library Kashmir elephant and she loves her thermal cat bed).  Previous kitty was a beautiful white long hair (from kids with a box in front of the supermarket).  My current delights are pound kitties.  I went there thinking light colored single cat, but couldn’t bear the thought that someone might separate these little babies who were curled up with one another. Thus, I arrived home with two black terrors who could climb the drapes and shred anything not nailed down (and be ever so cute while doing it). Like me, they’ve mellowed a bit, but that youthful exuberance is not yet spent.

The kitchen towels are Embroidery Library Black Cat Filigree and bats with moon from Embroidery Designs.com.  With embroidery machines, you need to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for how to edit or load your image and the nuances of how your hoops work.  General instructions to cover every topic with full picture tutorials are available on Embroidery Library’s project website.  These stitched out very well.

 

The reversible napkins have Wrights Rick Rack trim.  For a good tutorial on making your own, check out the Film in the Fridge tutorial. Fabric is from JoAnn.  Mine started 18 inches square (hers are smaller) and I don’t stitch down the rick rack where she does it the first time. I just layer and sew, although my way you have to pay close attention to what you’re doing.

 

I’d made easy plaster black cat pins and napkin ties with the same rick rack. 

 

If you don’t know how to mix plaster of Paris, check out eHow’s instructions. You can use the inexpensive stuff from the hardware store; I haven’t found craft stores smaller packages to yield a better product. When I’m using the candy molds for shapes (the cats were chocolate lollipop molds from Wilton), I just mix the plaster in a disposable coffee cup. I always have a few of those stashed in the garage. Remember to stir without bringing extra air into the mix – bubbles mean little pockmarks in your finished items (so do not try to beat like eggs). I’ve seen instructions that say approximately 2 parts plaster to one part water. In truth, I use the water first, tap in powder until you have it peaking a few inches above the water then stir method. You can also tap your mold a bit hoping to get the air bubbles to rise.  Before you start, have everything ready. 

 

More than once, I didn’t have my hooks handy.  You can glue them on later, but the glued ones periodically pop off. Christmas ornament hooks work, paper clips you’ve snipped down with wire clippers or craft wire (on bendable on the spool at a crafts store).  You want to let them set up a bit before you put the hooks in, otherwise they’ll sink and you’ll have the metal bits visible on the face of your piece.  With larger pieces, it’s easy to rig a “hook holder”, for instance you can lay a dowel across the back of the mold and put your hook on that so it doesn’t sink.  With these small ones, watching for the plaster to get thick enough doesn’t take long. If you forget to place them, I’ve used wood glue with mixed results. Above you can see one hook on, one off and one that’s been reglued (and I didn’t bother to retouch the paint).  Most stay stuck, but about ¼ pop off and have to be reglued.  Do a few up with pinbacks to have some fun Halloween pins – everyone who know me has a nice little cheerful collection.

You do want to paint both front and back, or later seal the back with your favorite acrylic sealer, to prevent a constant brush of plaster dust on anything your items touch.

Once fully dry, I paint with acrylic paints and Liquitex Iridescent tinting medium. You can mix the medium with paint or use it as a glaze.  Here it’s the light glaze final coat.