Ring of Hands Instruction

Hand casting is perhaps the simplest form of life casting to
learn, as one can determine from the reading of the previous chapter on hand casting. Hand castings are also an excellent gifts to present to loved ones,
especially if it is for a parent or grandparent. Such gifts often bring a tear of emotion to to the receiver as it is indeed, a very sentimental present.

However an even greater tug on the heart string  is the wreath of hands made the collective hands of family, friends, parents, children and even grandparents. This is most often known as the ring of hands, a casting of three or more hands clasping each others wrist. The group of hands can be as large as there is room to hold each other’s wrist. The largest I have created is a ring of six grasping hands. Though the more common casting are groups of three and four hands cast in the wreath formation.

Materials

  • 1-lb fast setting alginate (MoldGel Regular Set)
  • 1-Roll Plaster of Paris Bandage 5” x 5 yards (POP Art Bandage)
  • 6-inch square of cotton
  • Latex gloves
  • Putty knife
  • 1 bottle Algislo
  • 1 Box of CastRite or 6-10 pounds of casting plaster
  • 1 Gallon bottle of distilled water
  • Several Mixing buckets or bowl
  • Small container of Spackle
  • Corn Oil
  • Plaster rasp
  • Several chip brushes (2 and 3-inch)

 

Roll out about six to eight inches of the plaster bandage, then roll it back on itself, and then roll it back on itself again. This creates an “S” shaped plaster bandage. Cut it to create a three-ply thickness plaster bandage. Continue this until you have finished cutting most of the plaster bandage roll.  Do not use all the plaster bandage to create the shell mold. You will want to keep some cut plaster bandages in reserve. These will be used to cover the arm holes when the mold is complete so the casting material will not leak out.

Cut a six-inch square of cotton and pull it apart to expose the center. You will use the center surface. We suggest veterinarian cotton as it is extremely soft and fuzzy, whereas drug store cotton is very compressed and not nearly as fuzzy.

We are creating a mold of four hands in this example. So, measure out six pounds of water (6 cups) (soft or distilled water only) and one pound of medium setting alginate (5-minutes) such as MoldGel Regular Set-in separate containers. Of course, if you are creating a mold of many hands you will need to adjust the quantity of alginate upwards accordingly. Have a large mixing
bowl or mixing container ready as well.

Use a wire kitchen whisk to rapidly mix the alginate and water until it is smooth and yogurt-like.

Comfort is critical for the best mold making results. Locate a flat surface where the participants can sit around.  The table cannot be too wide as the
participant’s arms will have to be near each other so that they can hold each other’s wrist. So before preparing any material, practice their pose. Seat and position all participants (as the process will tire out the models more quickly if they are standing). Have each person hold each other around the wrist, alternating the hands in the process. As an example, person one, holds person two’s wrist, person two, holds person three’s wrist and person there holds person’s one’s wrist. With three people involved, simply subtract the fourth hand, with five add the extra hand, and so on.

With your gloved hands, scoop up some alginate and carefully apply it to the posed hands as well as halfway up the forearms of each of the participants. Make certain that the alginate is placed into any gaps under the hands that are not absolutely flat on the table, as well as between the openings of any fingers and in the empty center of the ring. If you mixed the alginate thick enough, it should remain in place. If it is a little thin, scoop up onto any thin spots until the alginate begins to set.

When the hands and arms are satisfactorily coated in the alginate and before the alginate sets, spray a generous amount of Algislo on the surface to keep the surface moist.

Then gently pat the previously prepared cotton pad onto the surface of the alginate with the inside surface of the cotton pad to allow the fibers to stick into the sticky alginate surface. This action will bind the alginate to the plaster bandages that you will apply next.

Once you finish applying the cotton fiber, begin dipping a
plaster bandage into a bowl or tray of warm water and carefully apply it to a forearm. Smooth it down against the alginate surface, of the alginate, making certain there are no air bubbles underneath the bandage. Air bubbles will create deformities in your finished casting. Continue applying plaster bandages by overlapping the previous one by one third with a new one. Continue the process until the entire surface of the alginate mold is covered with plaster bandages. Once the plaster bandages solidify the will act as an inflexible shell mold to support the delicate alginate mold during casting.

When the plaster bandages have hardened after drying, it is time to de-mold. A putty knife is used to slip under the edges of the alginate carefully sliding it completely around the periphery of the mold. Be careful how deep you insert the blade of the putty knife as you don’t want to nick any of the hands underneath. Inserting the blade should break the suction created by the mold. Using both hands lift the mold off the participants. As you remove
the mold, keep your fingers under the alginate and use your plaster shell mold in place. Use your thumbs to hold the plaster shell mold in place.

Now tip the mold upside down and place it carefully in the mold box cradle you prepared earlier. You will need to cover the openings where the arms entered the mold. Wet out the remaining plaster bandages and cover the arm holes. Let these bandages dry.

 When the plaster bandages have all dried, use a chip brush to coat the inside surfaces of any exposed plaster bandages with corn oil. The corn oil will prevent the bandages from adhering to the plaster casting
material you will pour in the next step. Saturate the bandages with the corn oil well.

The next step is to mix the casting plaster according to the directions on the package. When you have a mixture of the viscosity of thin yogurt you a ready to pour. Before pouring, take a chip brush and paint the interior of the mold with a coat of casting plaster. This is called the face coat and it helps to eliminate air bubbles that can ruin the look of the surface of your casting.

When you are finished pouring, knock on the side of the mold with your knuckles for a minute or two. As you do, you will notice bubbles forming on the surface of the plaster you just poured. The knocking action drives air bubbles out of the mold. You do not want air bubbles in your castings. This helps remove most of them – but not all.

This is the time to add a wire to the rear of the wreath so it can be hung on a wall for display. Cut a length of picture wire. Then tie a loop in each end about two inches on either side. Embed each of these loops into the wet plaster and leave the wire untouched until the plaster cures.

To de-mold, pull off the plaster bandages. They will be somewhat resistant to removal. This is often so. But if you are fortunate, the entire mold may come off at once. Either way you must remove the plaster bandages and the alginate mold underneath them. There is a caveat here. If you wait too long to de-mold, say overnight, it will be much more difficult to remove the alginate, because as it dries, it becomes hard and shrinks. So the ideal de-mold time is about four hours after you finish pouring the casting.

Once de-molded, inspect the surface of the casting. It is
normal to find defects such as small wart-like dimples (caused by air bubbles). These can be easily popped off using a table knife. If you find indentations or craters (caused by air traps), fill them with a little Spackle. You may want to square off the ends of each of the arms. You can do so with a saw. Use a plaster rasp to remove any large defects followed by some light sanding.

Let the casting dry for at least forty-eight hours before
applying paint or sealer. If you wish to leave it unfinished, then seal it with polyurethane clear matte finish such as that offered by Krylon or Rustoleum. It is important that you seal the surface as plaster is hygroscopic – meaning it attracts moisture, which will eventually lead to a chalky surface. As you gain experience you will want to create your finished casting in cold cast metal, such as bronze, brass or copper as that finish always appears more elegant.