Plaster of paris and the best art group project ever!

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I thought this would be fun, but I didn't realize how fun. The kids seriously LOVED this project! It was easy yet engaging and it used all kinds of odds and ends (which I liked). First, I mixed up a batch of plaster of paris — left over from sandcasting at the beach — which I then poured into styrofoam plates — left over our styrofoam printing attempt. In the center of the art table were little bowls full of beads, buttons, pasta shapes, googly eyes, rocks, shells, and popsicle sticks.

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The kids each placed, arranged, poked, poured, drew with, and set the various items in the plaster while it was still wet. It was a bit like our sandcasting, although we set the objects on top of the plaster instead of under and there was a lot more overall involvement.

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They slip out of the styrofoam plates easily once dry. I'm not sure about the longevity of the pieces — one of Maia's cracked while drying although a couple of others in the studio did not. Maybe it has something to do with how I mixed that particular batch of plaster of paris (we went through a couple) or maybe it's just about how much "stuff" was added. Don't know. But as such an awesome process-oriented activity I'm not going to worry too much about how they hold up over time. It's still well worth doing.

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  1. says

    That does look like a blast. I gave you some love on my blog. Thank you for the Salty Watercolors idea. I framed my art and hung it in my bathroom. It looks amazing!!

  2. Jacki says

    Fun! I am wondering where your kids put all the art projects when they are done creating them…

  3. Amy says

    my daughter and I have had similar fun creating stepping stones with cement. Same kind of process and feel (shoving things and poking things into the cement). You can try the mold from the boxed sets from places like michaels, and I think Dick Blick sells them too. But a super cheapy version is an aluminum pie plate you can recycle when done. And they’re durable and fun in the garden. Though, I admit I kind if like the thought of super fragile plaster– and the way it really keeps the focus on process over results. Fun! Thanks for sharing, as always. ;)

  4. says

    Jacki — the works on paper either get hung up, sent to family, or stored in these containers (http://artfulparent.wordpress.com/2008/02/25/organizing-and-storing-maias-art/). The 3-D pieces usually hang around for a while then get tossed. We’ve kept a few but generally just the ones that we like to have around in our household (sculpey prints, painted rocks, paper mache bowl, etc). I haven’t figured out a good storage system for the others. I’m thinking a photograph of some of the 3-D pieces might be sufficient for now.

  5. says

    love this project! we are collecting shells from our beach adventures for this! can’t wait to try it!
    ps….ideas for jacki on art storage…
    if it is some sort of “recycled” material art… it stays around for a while and then i take a picture and i we have an “art book” we put them in according to year… yr 1, yr 2 etc.
    If it is small 3d pieces… we make shadow boxes …keep some and give otehrs as presents.
    as for drawings… if they are 8 1/2 x 11… i take a notebook binder (like for school) and put clear acetate page protectors? and stick them in there again…according to yearr made…. i tend to keep way too much…. but its my love and i love seeing their art growth/development! :)

  6. says

    We did these after an autumn walk – acorns and leaves and sticks and gourds… they turned out to be brilliant!!! They didn’t last well but they looked beautiful for as long as I would want them lying around!!!

  7. Lena says

    I absolutely love this idea – the colors and textures are so pleasing to the eye. I’m wondering if using clear glue (from Discount School Supply, for example) would be an effective variation on the plaster of paris. I’m sure it would take several days to thoroughly dry – so not something to enjoy immediately. Also, the transparency of the dried glue might make a lovely effect – allowing the embedded parts of the objects to be visible.