ATSF Howard Branch

Some Plaster tips

Updated 12-16-07

I learned this one from Tracy Mitchell MMR who learned it from Chuck Lind MMR, so it is not original with me, but I sure do like it. After trying other methods, it really solves problems.

When mixing hydrocal or molding plaster, you are trying to beat the clock. Once the plaster starts to set up, you not only have to stop using it, but you also have to clean up your mixing bowl. That can involve some difficult scraping as the plaster sticks to the sides.

The perfect mixing bowl is half of a basketball. Go to the discount store and buy a basketball (save yourself some time and buy two). They only cost about $3 for the inexpensive ones. Cut it in half through the seam where the filler valve is located. Remove the filler valve completely. Now you have them - two perfect plaster mixing bowls. What makes them "perfect" is that when the plaster starts to set up, you just toss it aside and begin with another one. When you are ready to clean up, just squeeze the ball and the rigid plaster will simply break away and can be dumped into the trash. At this point I take the balls (or is it bowls) outside and use a pressure nozzle on the water hose to wash them out. Now I am ready to go again. If you put the ball half in a larger pan when you work, it will give it some stability so it does not turn over.

Another idea is to use masonry color with your plaster that will later represent dirt. This color is in liquid form and can be purchased from Home Depot, Lowes, and similar stores. It comes in charcoal, brown, tan, and gray and is used to color mortar or concrete. I put it with the plaster so that if the plaster is later chipped or cracked, the color is all the way through. No more white spots. Of course you should not use it in situations where you will be staining the plaster such as rock outcroppings unless you want this to be your base color.

Steve Sandifer