Top Tips for Baby Hand & Foot Casting

Top Tips for Baby Hand & Foot Casting

Top Tips for Baby Hand & Foot Casting

Babies grow up so quick and capturing their tiny hands and feet by way of 3D casting enables you to create a stunning keepsake that you will treasure forever.  Making your baby's hand and foot casts at home is cheaper and much easier than you think.  Here are our top tips and the 3 easy stages of the casting process....

1. BUY A BABY CASTING KIT FROM A WELL-KNOWN & TRUSTED BRAND

Baby Casting Kits from babyrice.co.uk

Plenty of baby hand and foot casting kits can now be bought online, however you need to avoid kits comprising of inferior casting materials, weak plaster (like plaster of Paris), no finishing paint and poorly translated instructions.  You can buy a good quality baby casting kit from BabyRice that includes a metallic finishing paint for as little as £14.95.  BabyRice also has a huge selection of 3d baby casting kits with frames, these are complete hand and foot casting sets which include quality shadow box display frames to showcase your baby's 3D casts and a special photograph.  Established in 2006 and based in the UK, BabyRice have the largest selection of diy casting kits to choose from with worldwide delivery.  Visit the Baby Casting page at BabyRice.

Good quality baby casting kits will be provided with detailed instructions, make sure you read the instructions thoroughly before starting so you know the stages of the entire process. 

2. THE PROCESS - JUST 3 SIMPLE STAGES

There are just 3 simple and easy stages to create a baby hand or foot cast.  You need to have all casting materials to hand before starting and we definitely recommend that you have an assistant to help you with the mould making process.  Your partner, parent or a friend can help you with this.  

Top Tip:  If you haven’t worked with alginate before, we always recommend that you do this quick and simple 'finger test' before attempting to make a hand or foot impression mould.  By doing this quick and simple process first, you get a very good understanding as to how the alginate mixes, the colour change process it goes through, what the texture of the alginate is like when it's setting and what the alginate feels like on your finger (harmless of course!) and then what happens when your finger is removed from set alginate.  Please note, the instructions below are correct for BabyRice Alginate, other brands of alginate will have different working times.

BabyRice 'Finger Test' - How the Alginate works

BabyRice's 'Finger Test'

  1. Pour 50ml of 30ºC water into a small container.  Using a separate container, measure out the same volume of alginate and sprinkle it onto the 30ºC water.  Start mixing immediately.
  2. You have up to 1 minute and 55 seconds of mixing time – keep mixing until you have a smooth consistency.  At this stage the mixture will be pink.
  3. Before 2 minutes have elapsed, put your finger into the alginate mixture and give it a wiggle so the alginate completely surrounds your finger.
  4. The alginate will start setting at around 2 minutes, and will be fully set at around 2.5-3 minutes. As the alginate sets the mixture becomes paler, becoming a grey-ish white colour when fully set.
  5. Once set, release your finger from the mould – at this stage you won’t see much detail in the mould, but trust us, every detail including your detailed fingerprints will be there!  

Top Tip:  do not guess the water temperature that's needed for the alginate, use an accurate thermometer to measure the temperature of the water

Now that you understand how the alginate impression mould works, you are ready to get casting!

3. MAKING THE HAND / FOOT IMPRESSION MOULD USING ALGINATE

Immerse baby's hand or foot into the alginate to make the impression mould

STAGE 1

Top Tip:  You can make casts of baby’s hands or feet, however feet are generally easier to cast as babies tend to clench their fists.  Start with the foot first - and if you think your baby is going to be wriggly, then wait until they are fast asleep before making the alginate mould.

Top Tip:  rub in a little vaseline (or similar barrier cream) around your baby's foot - this will make your baby's foot slide out of the alginate mould easily.

Top Tip:  Do put down a protective sheet, or work in your kitchen, to avoid any spillages onto carpet!

Stage 1 of the casting process, is the same as the 'finger test' steps, but this time you will use a suitable sized container for your baby's foot. Use a container similar to a small margarine tub - the rectangular shape is best for the foot.  Ensure your container is not too big for your baby's foot - the empty space around your baby's foot whilst in the container will need to be filled with alginate, so you need a container that ideally has no more than a 1" gap around your baby's foot to avoid wasting so much alginate.

Once you have your container, pop in your baby's foot and see where you need the level of the alginate mould to be - this will be around the level of your baby's ankle.  You can mark the container if you wish, or just remember where the level is.

Then pour into the container 30ºC water up to the level you need.  

Pour this water into your mixing bowl.

Dry the container with a cloth/towel and shake the alginate powder into the container up to the same level.

When you have the alginate quantity you need, sprinkle the alginate powder into the water in your mixing bowl and get mixing!  Before the 1 minute and 55 seconds of mixing time is up, you need to have transferred the alginate mix into the container to make the impression mould. 

You or your assistant needs to then gently dunk baby's foot into the alginate mixture in the container, give their foot a little wiggle and ensure that their foot is not touching any side of the container (as if this happens, then the perfect mould of your baby's foot will be ruined - there will be 'flat' edges to the plaster foot cast instead).

When the alginate has set, gently wriggle out baby's foot from the alginate mould.

4. PLASTER MIXING AND AND HOW TO POUR INTO THE BABY FOOT / HAND IMPRESSION MOULD

Pour plaster into alginate hand foot impression mould

STAGE 2

Now you have made your baby's foot mould, the next step is to fill it with plaster.  You should do this right away after making your mould, as the alginate mould will start to break down after about 20 minutes or so - the alginate becomes unstable and more watery.  By putting in the plaster straight away, the alginate mould will retain those fine lines and wrinkles that have been captured.  

Clean out the mixing bowl you used for the alginate mix, ensure it's perfectly clean and dry before working with the plaster mix.

The plaster mix is a ratio of 2 parts plaster to 1 part water.  Plenty of plaster is provided in our kits along with instructions. The plaster should be a nice smooth and runny consistency, so that it can get into all of the little nooks and crannies of alginate mould. Before you pour the plaster into the mould, tap the sides of the mixing bowl to bring any air bubbles in the plaster mix up to the top.  

Top Tip:  the plaster also sets quite quickly, especially at the bottom of your mixing bowl, where the plaster particles will settle (as these are heavier than water).  Ensure you or your assistant keeps mixing the plaster to stop it from setting.

Take your time when filling the alginate mould with plaster. Start by spooning the plaster mix into the alginate mould.  After the first spoonful or two, tip and rotate the alginate mould to move the plaster around within it and to ensure that the plaster is filling up those tiny areas of the mould, like the toes.  If the plaster does not reach these areas, or if air pockets are created instead, then you will be left with missing toes and other sections of the plaster cast! 

Continue to spoon in the plaster, moving the mould until to you get to the top of the alginate mould.  When done, tap the sides of the container to bring up any air bubbles that may be within the plaster.

Top Tip:  for a foot cast, rest the container at a slight angle, just to ensure that the plaster stays in the toe areas of the mould

Don't leave the plaster in the moulds for more than 4 hours as the alginate will start to harden and removing it from the plaster casts will be difficult.  For baby cast, an hour or two will be sufficient, so now’s the time to have a well-deserved rest, some cuddles with baby and a cuppa whilst you wait.

5. THE BIG REVEAL!  REMOVING YOUR 3D PLASTER CAST FROM THE ALGINATE IMPRESSION MOULD

STAGE 3

Stage 3 is the best bit - the reveal of your 3D plaster cast!   After at least an hour, you can start to gently remove the alginate mould from your plaster cast. The alginate mould can be picked at, carefully breaking away small sections of the alginate.  Be sure to take extra care around the toes (and fingers) area of the plaster cast so that you don't accidentally break them off!  Should this happen though, don't worry, when the plaster has thoroughly dried out you can glue broken parts back onto the cast - with a gentle sand on the breakline (if needed) and when the cast is painted, no-one will ever know!

Top Tip:  Take care when handling the damp plaster cast - the surface is delicate and the replicated fine skin details can be lost if the plaster cast is handled too harshly.

Removing baby foot cast from alginate mould

Ta-da!  And there you have your perfect little 3D replica cast of your baby's foot.  Now you have created your first baby cast, you can start on making your baby's hand cast when you are ready.  If you have lots of casting materials, consider taking just one or two impression moulds (and then fill them with plaster) one day at a time, creating other impression moulds on another day so that you don’t tire yourself or baby out.

Leave the plaster casts for at least 5-7 days to completely dry out before painting them.  If you paint them before they’re thoroughly dry, the paint won’t adhere to the casts - the paint will just disappear into the plaster cast...

Silver Painted Baby Hand and Foot Casts

This blog isn’t meant to provide a how to for DIY casting, it’s just some hints and tips based on lessons we’ve learned over the years. Always follow the instructions that come with your casting materials and consult the manufacturer if you have any questions.

A 3D baby casting kit makes a great gift for new parents.  We can't think of a better keepsake gift that truly captures baby's first few months of their life.  Baby's tiny hand and foot is replicated into a beautiful keepsake that will last more than a lifetime and can be handed down to generations to come - a true family heirloom!  A Baby Casting Kit is a unique and thoughtful christening / baptism gift, or a baby's naming day ceremony gift.  If you would like to purchase a baby casting kit for your family or someone you know, check out the range on BabyRice.co.uk where kits start from just £14.95 - you can visit our online store here >>>

Buy a BabyRice Casting Kit