Don't bother buying hand/foot casting kits when they can be easily done at home with playdough and polyfiller (or plaster of paris).
One of the mum's at my local playgroup told me about this, and it works a treat! I've made casts of my two children each year and have some lovely, life-sized reminders of how much they've both grown.
1. Make some home made play dough:
- 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar.
- Cook the mixture in a saucepan over a medium heat stirring all the time (WARNING: This makes your arm ache, it's a good job for dad to do!)
- Stop heating when the mixture starts coming away from the pan and remove from the heat.
- (if just making playdough and not for casting, you can add food colouring to make it coloured.)
- Knead well.
- Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for two weeks.
2. Leave dough in fridge until it is completely cold (I usually make in the evening and then its ready by morning). You may need to knead slightly to make it softer before you/your child plays with it.
3. Put some of the dough in a plastic container big enough to fit your child's hand or foot (lunch box, margarine tub, ice-cream container etc etc..). About half fill the depth of the container, make sure its deep enough so that when you push your childs hand/foot in it doesn't hit the bottom.
4. Splay fingers out and gently push your child's hand (or foot) into dough to make an imprint. Take care when removing hand to keep the imprint clear.
5. Make up a sloppy mixture of polyfiller (or plaster of paris, but polyfiller works just as well). It needs to be runny so that it fills in all of the fine lines on the print, but the thinner it is the longer it takes to dry out.
6. Fill the container (containing the playdough imprint) with the polyfiller mixture. You will need to fill to about 1cm depth on top of the dough level. Tap the container on a flat surface to level the mixture out.
7. Leave in a warm place (on the top of the boiler or on a window sill is good) for at least a week. If you peel the dough away before the polyfiller is completely dry it will crumble, so resist the temptation to check it too soon. The longer you leave it to dry the better, if in no rush leave it for a few weeks.
8. Flex the sides of the plastic container and the edges will come away from the dry polyfiller. Turn over and flex the bottom of the container and the whole lot should come out (the container will be fine, and can be reused). Then simply peel the dough from the polyfiller to reveal the cast
9. You can then file the edges of the cast with sandpaper to make a nice background shape, or file all of the excess polyfiller away to just leave the hand or foot cast without a background.
10. Some nice bronze or gold acrilyc paint will give the perfect finishing touch!