Plaster of Paris is a moulding material composed of calcium sulphate hemihydrates, calcium carbonate and crystalline silica. By mixing the powder form with water, you can make simple moulds to use for small craft projects--with the exception of hand prints. Because the plaster heats up while hardening and my become uncomfortable in the hands, a different type of moulding products is best for hand prints. And though children would be understandably attracted to the process of mixing Plaster of Paris, adults are better suited to this task.
Lubricate the object to be moulded with oil or petroleum jelly. Plaster is activated by water and will attach to objects unless a release agent is used. The oil and water won't mix easily, so oil-based lubricants work well as release agents.
Place the object to be moulded in the paper bowl.
Pour plaster into a plastic cup and add water, mixing thoroughly.
Pour the mixed plaster over the object so that the fattest part of the object is no more than halfway into the plaster (otherwise it won't come out without breaking the plaster).
Allow the plaster 30 minutes to harden. Larger pieces may take longer.
Pull the object gently out of the plaster. Where the object was placed, you see a duplicate but opposite mould of the object. Allow the mould to harden completely.
Use modelling clay or other soft modelling material to press into the mould to capture the shape. The mould can be reused many times if handled carefully.
Adults should mix plaster to keep the silica away from children.
Clean up the area well so that bits of plaster aren't crushed back into powdered forms. Avoid breathing in plaster dust