TUTORIAL: Sand and Plaster Beach Molds

by Dana on July 25, 2012

I’ve been wanting to do this for years. But as every summer rolled around and we visited the beach with our family, I’d forget to bring the supplies. Doh.
So this year I was determined to make it happen.
We did!
And it even morphed from simply molding my kids hands to other beach-y objects….like this:

to this!

And we drove home to Texas with real beach momentos to decorate our house. I love how the glasses almost looked brushed in gold.It was all thanks to the special ingredient, Plaster of Paris:
and the sand of course.
I sort of remember using Plaster of Paris back in the day (probably for a Girl Scout project) but I couldn’t remember quite how it worked.
Mix plaster and water?
Oh yea. Now I remember.
EASY.

You just need a mold to pour the wet plaster into. And damp beach sand makes the perfect spot, though you can also use your sandbox or even clay to create your mold.
Now aside from the process being easy…I will say that it’s also pretty messy (but hey you’re at the beach). And we also lost a few finished products because some fingers broke off or the tide washed them away.
Exhibit A, Lucy’s sad broken hand:
So watch where you create your molds if the tide is coming in. And transport the finished items carefully.

Okay, here are the simple steps:
• You can buy Plaster of Paris at Michaels and other craft stores for about $7
• You don’t need a proper measuring cup, just use whatever you have on hand…toys, drinking cups, etc.
• Saltwater from the ocean works just fine.
• Work in small batches till you find the proper consistency.
• You don’t want the plaster to be too thin and milky or it will seep into the sand. However if it’s too thick, it will dry faster than you can pour it. Mix it till it’s like a milkshake.

Next….
• You definitely need wet sand to create a mold but you don’t want it so hard that a child won’t be able to create a hand imprint. The best sand is right above where the tide breaks.
• Loosen up the sand a bit with you hands and smooth it out. Then help your child press their hand or foot or face?? into the sand and carefully pull it back up so the mold is as precise as possible.
• Work quickly to pour the plaster into the mold. Try not to leak any plaster outside of the mold.

When the mold has dried for only 5 or 10 minutes, use a feather or stick (whatever is around) to inscribe your child’s name and the date on the back. You could make this an annual tradition, capturing your child’s growing hand from year to year. The plaster molds make cool artwork for you home or beach house. Or give one to a Grandparent for Christmas. Make paper weights. Shadow box art? There are many possibilities.
While the plaster dries, enjoy the other beach amenities.
Then after about 30-40 mins, the plaster molds should be finished!

• Wash the molds off in the ocean and admire your amazing art.
• Place them in a safe place near your other belongings. You may want to bring a cookie sheet or pie pan with a towel inside to transport the finished molds. This will prevent them from getting stepped on and they can continue drying.
• When you’re home, you can remove excess sand with an old toothbrush or cleaning brush. Just work carefully to avoiding breaking any plaster and don’t brush off all the sand. That’s the charm!

And there you go.
From glasses to beach art.
(btw, glasses are from Forever 21. $1.80 regular price. What tha what?)

Then find a cool place for your souvenirs, on or off the shelf.

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Helen July 25, 2012 at 8:16 am

This is such a cool idea! I think I need to go and buy some plaster of paris :) Thanks for sharing!
Helen x

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2 Amanda July 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

I am definitely going to try this with my kids before they return to school. I love it! Thanks for the idea!

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3 Emily July 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

We did this at the beach too!! We also put small sea shells and cute rocks in our handprints before we poured the plaster.

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4 Lauralee July 25, 2012 at 10:44 am

If you break off the ring finger, it will be a hand that says “I LOVE YOU!” for always! What could be sweeter?! :0)

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5 aSprinkling July 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

That’s just what I was going to suggest, Lauralee!

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6 Stephanie July 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

Love it!!! Thanks for sharing! We are headed to my parents house in Florida in a couple days! It will be a great activity for the kids to do with their Grammie.

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7 Shannon July 25, 2012 at 11:04 am

Love it! Can’t wait to try this at the beach :)

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8 Aude July 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Just love it…I will try it next time we go to the beach….I really enjoy your blog it…

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9 Palak July 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Lucy’s hand print looks like a ‘hookem horns!’ sign! …. um kind of. :) What a clever idea!

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10 Abby July 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

That’s such a fun idea! Now if I could just get to a beach :).

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11 Jackie July 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This sounds like a great thing to do with my kids when I take them to the beach in September for the first time. A great way to remember the trip.

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12 delia July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

what an adorable keepsake! I love the beach. I don’t love swimming in it! ;) But all the other ‘amenities’ are a favorite. I hope I remember to make these treasures the next time we go.

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13 Twins Squared July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Oh we used to do this as kids in church summer camp! I totally forgot about this. Thanks for the great idea! I think I need to do this with my kiddos.

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14 Anneliese July 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Super cute idea! I’ll have to remember this next beach trip.

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15 Fiona @ Imogen's Angels July 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Love this idea, just need the beaches and weather to heat up here in Australia. I’m doing a similar post on my blog this weekend but we are making moulds of shells into polymer clay : )

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16 Kristen July 26, 2012 at 12:58 am

Love this! Wish I lived near a beach

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17 Christine July 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

What a fun idea! Maybe our MOMS Club will have to try this!

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18 ScruffyKat July 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Love. love, love this Idea! just moved away from the beach:( But we have a sand box…LOL

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19 Gill July 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

What a great idea!

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20 tash July 29, 2012 at 4:28 am

Love love!
Must remember to take the plaster of paris to the beach next time.

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21 dixie July 31, 2012 at 8:30 pm

i like this, i normally use play doh just i spray a tad bit cooking spray on the kids hand and then pressinto the duh then pour plaster of paris in and you have a outprint like this

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22 SmileySammy13 August 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for a fab idea. My little nephew is only 5 yrs old, so this would be great to do every yr & watch him grow! He’s going to think I’m such a cool aunty -Thank you :0)

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23 Kim July 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Can’t wait to try this out next week at the beach in Michigan!

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24 Cat Holtzclaw January 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

If you would take the pop top from a soda can and make it into a v shape….you can insert the flat part of it into the plaster as it begins to set. The ring part will protrude and later become a hanger for your casting. This may take a little practice but once you grasp the concept…you will be thrilled. The ring can bend out a little if you need to adjust it.

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