Carve a Sculpture Using Plaster of Paris

This is not a quick project. It takes several hours to prepare the plaster and the carving time will depend not only on your skill with the tools, but the complexity of the carving and whether you are using manual or electric tools. This is the kind of project for working on while watching television or listening to audio books, a little something to keep your hands busy while your mind is otherwise engaged. However, it can result in beautiful works of art that are great one of a kind home décor pieces or even gifts.

Plaster of Paris
Mold release
Mold (disposable 16-32 oz cup works well)
Acrylic sealer or other glaze
Wood carving tools
Mixing cup, spoon
Paint brush
Design sketch
Optional Motorized engraving device with different heads (such as a Dremel)
Craft/acrylic paints and brushes

Prepare the plaster according to the package directions. You don’t want to allow the plaster to dry completely because you want to remove the large areas of excess plaster while it is still damp. However, do not try to remove it from the mold and work with it before it has set for at least an hour. Redraw your design sketch lightly onto the surface with a thin carving tool or just a pencil.

With the wedge carver, start removing the plaster which represents the negative space from your design. Once the bulk of the excess plaster is gone, start gently shaping the contour lines of your piece with the angled blade, the wedge, the crescent and any other tools you find helpful to create your outline.

Do not attempt to work the finer details while the plaster is still moist. Once the excess plaster has been removed and only the basic shape of what will be your final piece remains, allow the plaster to harden completely before continuing.

Once the piece is completely dry, begin your detail work, using the manual tools and/or the electric bits, until the piece looks as close to your design or the desired final product as you can get it, using the paint brush as often as necessary to dust off debris and clean the space. Once you have all the carving done, use an electric head to smooth the finish or a damp sponge if you don’t have an engraver. Apply paint and several coats of glaze until you are satisfied with your work.

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