Family casts make ideal gifts, with the ability to capture a precious moment for a lifetime, they truly are something to treasure. At Baby Casts and Prints, we are aware not everyone can get to us, so we decided to make it easier for you.
Have you used one of our home casting kits? If so, you’ll know that creating the perfect cast isn’t as easy as it seems. So, what do you do?
Many people have found success by using our detailed instruction manual and instructional videos. But if you’re still not feeling confident, we know it’s important for you to know all the tips and tricks when it comes to casting at home. Before you commit to purchasing one of our home casting kits, we have put together this guide, taking you through the casting process and answering any questions you may have.
10 Home Casting Tips & Tricks
Our team are aware how important it is for you to make the most out of your home casting kits, so we’ll take you through our 10 tops tips to casting at home.
- Firstly, we know, mixing alginate can be daunting, especially given it has a setting speed of 2-3 minutes. Top tip: BE FEARLESS! Alginate smells fear! But seriously, get stuck in and work as quickly as possible.
- It may seem self-explanatory; however, we do recommend that you read the instructions. Thoroughly. Skimming through the instructions means there is the potential to make mistakes. Take your time prior to creating your cast, the process is always much smoother once you have a clear idea of what to do.
- As tempting as it may be, avoid mixing the alginate by hand. I learnt the hard way when I began life casting back in 2014. Alginate can be very difficult to mix thoroughly, therefore we now opt for the easier option of an electric whisk, gradually adding the alginate.
- Practice makes perfect. A saying we’ve all heard, but how is it applicable here? Regardless of the cast, we always like to place the hands or feet into a container before mixing the alginate, to ensure there is plenty of room around the persons being casted.
- When it comes to mixing alginate, there is more than meets the eye. Ratio is quintessential when it comes to getting this right, therefore we always weigh our alginate to the weight specified in the instructions. If the mixture is too dense the alginate will set whilst mixing, whereas if the mixture consists of too much water, the alginate may not set correctly, if at all. The general mixing ratio is 100g of powder to 300ml of water.
- In our instruction manuals, we recommend 21°c water, sounds relatively warm, right? Wrong. Please do not guess the temperature of the water. In most households, a thermometer can be found in the medicine cabinet, the kids toy box and sometimes even in your sock drawer. Regardless of where you keep your thermometer, we suggest you keep it handy during this part of the process. No thermometer? Simply, use COLD water to mix the alginate.
- Quick and easy tip, measure the water, ensuring you’re looking at the measurements in millilitres (ML). We’ve all made the mistake of reading the wrong units before…
- Always add alginate to the water. If you slowly add alginate to the water, there is less chance if any powder being missed during the mixing process. Think of it like hot chocolate, some of the powder often sticks to the bottom of the mug completely untouched by the water. It’s the same with alginate.
- Mixing the plaster can get messy and everyone does it differently. For example, our instructions suggest specific measurements. Another, yet effective method to getting the right consistency, pour water into a disposable pot, and fill with plaster until the water stop absorbing the plaster – you will notice a dry patch of plaster on top of the water. Only then should you mix the two components together, to the perfect consistency.
- Avoid pouring all the plaster into the mould at once, start by adding small quantities of plaster, and rotating the mould, swilling the plaster to reach every nook and cranny. Using this technique, gradually add more plaster until the mould has been filled.
Recommended Casting Equipment
- As a beginner, I wish someone had told me – “use an electric whisk”. So here it is, use an electric whisk! Using your nice electric whisk will not cause any damage, regardless of how much mess is made, simply peel the alginate off the whisk once it has set.
- Those disposable plastic cups stored under the kitchen sink from last years barbeque will come in handy, AT LAST! We always recommend mixing plaster in a disposable pot, to avoid ruining those mugs collected from 7 years’ worth of novelty Easter eggs.
- Next time you find you or your little one enjoying an ice-lolly, remember, keep the stick. Not only are they useful for arts and crafts, but they can also be used to mix the plaster. However, if the weather isn’t great and an ice-lolly is off the cards, the sticks can be purchased from local craft stores.
- We know that the base of the cast isn’t always as smooth as you may like it to be, so a simple tool to avoid this issue is sandpaper, simply rub the base of the cast until you are content.
- Time for the fun stuff. Paint!
We find our most popular colours are silver and gold, which match most home interiors. However, this should make you feel limited. After sealing your cast, we recommend an acrylic based paint that suits you.
Find our six paint pots on the Baby Casts and Prints Amazon Store.
Common Casting Issues
Don’t worry, we’re listening. In this section we are addressing the most common issues encountered when using a home casting kit. We found three contributors that cause issues when casting at home, so here they are.
- Step one; don’t overthink it.
“The powder became hard within seconds after mixing” …
This seems to be the most common issue, as found in several reviews from multiple suppliers. It is true, alginate has a quick setting speed of around 2-3 minutes, however if you are using cold water and an electric whisk, this will help to give you as much setting time as possible before the mould sets. If it’s your first, try a small test using a small amount of alginate, and casting the end of your finger.
- Air bubbles happen. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, however there are ways to avoid them. Let’s refer to our 10 Home Casting Tips, number ten suggests that you will benefit from swilling the plaster around the mould, which will help to avoid those pesky air bubbles.
- What shall I use to cast my child’s hand? Some YouTube videos recommend pouring the alginate into sandwich bags, inserting the hand into the bag. For us, this just doesn’t work. We would suggest you take a trip to your local B&M to find a suitable tub, whether it be a Tupperware container or a paint kettle, whichever fits.
Our Casting Kits
Here at Baby Casts and Prints, we currently offer seven home casting kits, from baby bumps to family casts, including our newly released bauble casting kit, just in time for Christmas!
Holding Hands Family Casting Kit
All you need to create a stunning holding hand cast, whether it be with your significant other, child, or simply two friends. The perfect gift filled with sentimental value, comes with a full instruction manual and links to our instructional videos.
Holding Hands Family Casting Kit XL
Much like our original Holding Hands Kit, with the extra space. It’s back and bigger than ever! A casting kit the whole family can enjoy! Suitable for 4-6 hands dependant on size.
Belly Casting Kit
All you need to cast your pregnant belly. For the mother-to-be, to remember those precious months growing with her child. This also makes for an ideal gift, presented in a natural cotton gift bag. Never forget those magical months.
Essential Baby Casting Kit
Encapsulate those tiny fingers and tiny toes with our casting essentials, delivered in our natural cotton gift bags, making it an ideal baby shower gift for the parents-to-be. Containing a full instructional leaflet to get the perfect cast.
Baby and Toddler Casting Kit with Frame
You’ve heard of our Essential Baby Casting Kit, this is the upgrade. Not only can you keep those precious memories, but you also receive a bespoke frame to display those tiny toes. Available in black, silver, white and oak.
Baby Bauble Casting Kit
Here it is. Our personal favourite. The bauble casting kit has been created after one of our in-house best sellers, so if you can’t get to us, we can provide for you! Our bauble casting kit has been designed for babies and toddlers from 0 – 3 years, available in two sizes.
900g Alginate Moulding Powder
Thinking of casting again? Cut down the expense with our 900g refill. This kit comes with all the necessary tools, such as gloves, brush, PVA and wooden pick. What makes this one different? This kit does NOT supply any plaster or buckets for the cast.