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All you need to know about casting and casting materials

Want to learn more about casting and mould-making? Casting using plaster of paris and decor concrete is the ideal hobby for you, if you enjoy hands-on crafting! If you’re new to casting or keen to learn new techniques, our Casting Guide gives you our best tips for crafting amazing home decor items using media like plaster of paris and decor concrete.

Choosing the right casting material for your project

For plastercasting, you’ll want to go for powder-form plaster to mix with water and then pour into moulds. Once the plaster has cured, you can then easily paint and decorate it. Don’t know which type of plaster of paris to go for? Read our guide below to pick the right plaster for your project. The types of plaster of paris we list here are intended for decorative plastercasting (as opposed to home repairs and wall plastering).

Craft plaster of paris

A fast-drying plaster for casting in moulds. Craft plaster of paris has a smooth, fine-grained finish when cured, but is more grey in colour than the white alabaster plaster.

Alabaster plaster

This plaster is also fast-drying and is ideal for casting in moulds. The fine-grained plaster cures to a smooth white finish, ideal for painting on.

Stone plaster

For greater durability and weight, go for stone plaster. This is also the best plaster to use for making outdoor decor items.

And not forgetting...
...plaster bandages!

Plaster bandages may make you remember that plaster cast you had to wear the time you broke your leg as a child, but they are also very popular with crafters. Plaster bandages are simply lengths of gauze prepped with plaster of paris. By dipping strips of the bandage in water and applying to a mould, you can create all kinds of personalised items like masks, bowls and sculptures.

Concrete casting – DOs & DON’Ts

Many crafters like that raw look of decor concrete, and DIY concrete casting is not that difficult. Concrete can be cast in almost anything – but remember to apply liquid latex as a moisture barrier if casting in a cardboard mould which tends to lose its shape if it absorbs moisture.

Prepping for concrete casting:

  1. Get everything prepared and ready before you start mixing your concrete. This is because concrete sets very fast (in about 30 mins).
  2. Mixing concrete is dusty work, so ideally, you’ll want to be outdoors. A balcony space is fine too.
  3. Make sure that your clothes, skin and work surface are protected. Wear protective gloves and a face mask, and avoid getting any of the mixed concrete on your skin.
  4. Clean your tools immediately after use because you won’t want to be trying to remove set concrete from them!
  5. Clean your moulds in water and washing up liquid as soon as you have finished using them.

Things to bear in mind!

Oil all surfaces to easily release the concrete from the mould.
This is particularly important to remember when using moulds made of plastic, metal or other hard materials.

CAUTION! Do not pour...

...mixed concrete down the drain!

Making moulds using liquid latex

What is liquid latex?

Liquid latex is a runny rubber for making your own lightweight moulds to use for casting small items like small-scale sculptures or decorative items, or for poured-wax candle-making.

Things to bear in mind when using liquid latex

  • The number of layers you need to apply depends on the size of the design you’re aiming for, and how robust you need your mould to be. The more layers you apply, the browner the mould will become.
  • To speed up your mould-making, after about 3-4 layers of liquid latex, you can apply strips of gauze in between, before applying more layers of the latex.
  • When applying the latex, there’s no need to use the most expensive paintbrush in your craft kit, as it may be difficult to get it clean after use.
  • But to preserve your brushes, like all other tools, be sure to clean them in warm soapy water immediately after use.
  • How to make a liquid latex mould

    1. Dip the original item (called the “master”) you will be using to make a mould from in a bowl of liquid latex or apply the latex using a soft paintbrush
    2. Apply the liquid latex past the master itself, around the base. This results in a useful flange for the mould to rest on when you come to use it for casting.
    3. Stand your latexed master on a plastic bag and let the latex layer dry.
    4. Apply a fresh layer of liquid latex on top and leave this to dry. Repeat until you have achieved the desired thickness for your mould.
    5. After 10-20 layers, depending on the size of your original master, your mould should be ready. When fully dry, carefully remove the mould.
    6. Your mould is now ready for casting plaster, concrete or candle-making.

    Here’s wishing you happy casting and mould-making!