Plaster and Other Things

Plaster and Other Things

Being asked to make something out of two alternative materials, the hardest part was just picking which of those materials to work with. There are too many choices! And the temptation to work with something I already know was incredibly strong, but I wanted to try something a little different and spent a lot of time going into stores, staring at materials, and then just walking out without a single thing for various reasons. Some notes for myself…

  • Cork is wildly expensive. I knew the price had gone up but goodness.
  • Metal is a pain in the ass to cut but I really want to work with it. I think I’ll revisit that later.
  • I’m unwilling to carry 50 pounds of concrete (the smallest bag they claimed to have) from the 23rd street Home Depot (but they sell small boxes at ACE I would learn later).
  • Certain kinds of paper are equally as expensive as cork but I’ve been conditioned not to care.
  • Blick will continue to take significant amounts of my money.
  • Get a rewards card for everywhere if you want 50% off coupons.

I’d formed some vague idea of making a planter but wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it and was hoping my material choices would help guide that. I picked up some plaster (what I decided was the lighter alternative to concrete) and paper (just because I love beautiful paper) and wanted to see if I could put the two together.

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So I made a box mold!

And covered it with packing tape to keep the plaster from sticking to the cardboard because the internet said this would be effective.

I wanted to have the paper emerging down the side but needed to make sure of a few things before I completely committed to that idea:

  • That this taped up cardboard thing would actually work as a mold (the internet lies…).
  • That slicing into the side wouldn’t cause plaster to leak out all over the table.
  • And that paper would actually stay put (just some printer paper for this one).

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The box seemed to hold in the plaster just fine and there were no leaks to be found but the middle liked to float up to the top. I weighed it down to the desired depth with a tiny cup of water and left it to set for an hour.

The middle slid out clean and the sides came off fine!

But the paper absorbed some of the moisture and started tearing at the seam. It’s ok, just have to be gentle with the next one.

I also played around with scraping the imperfections off of this one. It’s still soft enough to be cut and sanded without creating a lot of dust if the plaster hasn’t had a chance to set completely. An X-acto knife was great for slicing off some of the edges and getting rid of some of the tape lines.

Now with some proof that this wouldn’t be a complete mess, I started making the molds for version 2.

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I tried to keep it cleaner this time, paying more attention to air bubbles and smooth application when it came to the tape. The paper I’d chosen for the side inserts was also sturdier so I hoped it would stand up to the moisture better than the printer paper I’d tried in the first one.

This attempt gave me a couple more problems. While I’d had no leaking in the test version, I of course ended up with a little plaster around the seam this time… Nothing major showed on my inserts however, so I knew any tiny imperfections could just be scraped off. Also more plaster in the mold unfortunately meant my tiny cup of water wouldn’t hold down the inside anymore. I sat there just holding it myself until I could get someone else to help me tape it in.

An hour later and the middle wiggled out easily again! And I was much more careful cutting around the sides, leaving the cardboard on that one corner to be cut off separately.

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And it’s free!

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It needs a little clean up here and there and probably to be sealed before I actually put a plant in it but it came out much cleaner than I was expecting. It also has feet! Which are actually paper fasteners but who can tell…