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DIY Hand Casting Kits – A Buyers Guide

Hand casting is simply the process of creating a detailed replica of a hand from a mould. Baby hand and foot casting kits are becoming increasingly popular with new parents as it allows them to capture and preserve that time when tgheir baby was tiny. Of course casting is not just for kids. More and more people are now seeking out hand casting kits to create casts with other family members. For some couples, creating a hand cast while holding hands is a a romantic way to mark a milestone, such as getting engaged, getting married or a special anniversary.

There are lots of hand casting kits out there, ranging from under £5 to well in excess of £50. This guide shines a light on what you should look out for when buying a hand and foot, or even paw, casting kit so that you can make an informed choice.

Always choose skin safe alginate

The first step in hand casting is to create a mould of the hand, foot or paw using moulding material. The most commonly used moulding material is alginate. Used by professional and DIY life casters alike alginate is easy to work with.

The main ingredient in alginate is seaweed. Many varieties of seaweed are harvested to make alginate, which is then used in a wide variety of applications including life casting, food, and the medical & pharmaceutical industries.

In fact, alginate is the moulding material that dentists use to make moulds of patients mouths. So, when you are comparing casting kits, we recommend looking for a kit that contains dental-grade alginate. That way, you know it conforms to rigorous safety standards. BabyRice Skin Safe Alginate is dental-grade and conforms to British Safety Standards BS 4269 Pt.2:1991 & ISO 1563:1990).

 

BabyRice Skin Safe Alginate

When shopping for a baby hand casting kit make sure the kit contains fast setting alginate. Many a cast has been ruined because the alginate took minutes to set and the baby didn't manage to stay still for long enough. BabyRice alginate is formulated to set quickly - after all, when you are making moulds of babies hands and feet, you want it to work quick so baby doesn’t have to stay still for too long!

Find out more OR purchase BabyRice Skin Safe Alginate HERE >>

Good quality casts need good quality plaster

Some casting kits contain fine casting plaster, which is one of the cheapest types of casting plaster. Fine casting plaster is easy to work with and will do a great job at reproducing the detail of your impression mould. However, fine casting plaster is quite soft, which means it's not great for an item that will be handled. After all, you don't want to pull off a pinkie when removing your hand cast from the alginate mould!

What's more, fine casting plaster has a shelf life of just 6 months. So, if you do use a kit with this stuff, check the use by date on the packet and if it doesn't have one, make sure you don't leave it too long before creating your casts.

BabyRice casting kits include strong casting plaster, Herculite II BabyRice casting kits include strong casting plaster, Herculite II

You should always look for a hand casting kit that includes a stronger plaster, such as Herculite II. Herculite produces a harder and more durable surface than fine casting plaster, making it a more suitable option for a life cast. Another advantage of Herculite II is that it produces a very white cast, making it the prefect base for a lovely paint finish should you decide to paint your cast. All BabyRice hand casting kits contain Herculite II.

Find out more OR purchase stong casting plaster HERE >>

Protect your casts

Some casting kits contain just the alginate and plaster, which is the most basic set of materials that you need to get started. Once you have created your keepsake hand casts, you should apply some kind of finishing treatment to seal and preserve them, so look for a kit that contains paint, wax or varnish.

Baby hand casts in a selection of paint finishes Choose from one of eight metallic paint finishes when you buy a BabyRice hand casting kit

This is especially important with baby hand and foot casts, as these tend to get handled a lot by friends and family who will marvel at the detail. Be warned, with all of that manual handling can oils form the skin can transfer on to the casts and damage the plaster. Moisture and dust can also affect the integrity of the cast.

BabyRice Metallic Finishing Wax swatches BabyRice Metallic Wax produces an increadibly realistic finish - choose from seven finishes

Find out more OR metallic paint finishes HERE >>

Displaying your Cast

Having gone to all that effort to create such a beautiful keepsake , why wouldn't you want to show it off? So it's a good idea to think about how you want to display your casts. You should look for a hand casting kit that includes a display option, such as a display plinth for adult hand casts, or a deep box frame for baby hand cast and paw casts.

A baby casting kit needs a display box frame with a depth of around 1.75 inches. Anything less and you'll likely end up having to file away at, (or even saw the end off!) your casts to get them to fit in. This is a common problem with a shallow depth box frames that come with cheap baby casting kits.

BayRice hand casting kit with deluxe box frame Deep box frames provide plenty of room to display your casts at their best

Shop for baby casting kits with box frames HERE >>

If you want to display an adult hand casting, the best option is a plinth. Before buying, make sure the plinth supplied with your kit is big enough for cast. For example, a small paw cast will sit nicely on a 6”x4” plinth. A group hand cast of 3 or four hands will need a bigger plinth, such as a 8”x4” or 8”x6” plinth, depending on the size of the hands.

Shop for baby casting kits with box plinths HERE >>

If you need more help or advice choosing the right hand casting kit, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the BabyRice team.

 

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