Introduction to the Visual Arts

Plaster Casting

Betty Rodriguez comparing a plaster casting of her hand next to her outstretched hand

Betty Rodriguez


Once every few years somebody gets this activity very wrong and puts their hand in wet plaster while it sets. This IS NOT the Activity! This IS VERY DANGEROUS! PLEASE NEVER PUT YOUR HAND IN WET PLASTER AND WAIT FOR IT TO SET!!! The activity is to make a MOLD of your hand in SAND and then POUR plaster in your SAND MOLD.

To Repeat: Letting plaster set around your hand IS DANGEROUS and IS NOT THE ACTIVITY!

And by “Plaster” I mean a pool of it. If you have a film of plaster on your hands from working with it, don’t worry about that.

Plaster Casting

We’re going to make a Plaster Casting of our Hand or Foot this week. Lots of art and commercial objects are made this way. They use finer sand than we get at the beach and they have hinged molds so the part can be removed more cleanly, but the process is quite similar.

Liz Juarez’ Demo:

Michelle Perez’ Demo:

Seal Beach Pier on Wednesday?

You can go to any beach you like on any day you like. Or use the “no beach” option below. I’ll go to the Seal Beach Pier on Wednesday from 3 – 5 pm and help anyone who shows up. It’s totally optional. But it’d be nice to get to say Hi! if you’re to come by. 

  • Seal Beach Pier – Just South of the Pier & Just South of Tower 2
  • Parking is right there in a lot off 10th St. $3/2 hours or $10/all day. 2 hours should be enough time for your project.
  • Google Map of Bus Route from LBSU 2 Seal Beach Pier
  • Student access to LB Transit busses
  • Busses to Campus
  • LB Transit Route 171
  • Car… Pool! There are 125 of us in Art110. Which means something like 62-1/2 of us have cars. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a ride! (be nice and give them a couple dollars for gas or split the cost of materials). Did I mention, don’t be afraid to ask someone for a ride! Here in California, I’ve always had a car. At the University of Hawaii, I did not. I had to depend on others to get around. Guess what? I made more friends in Hawaii than I’ve ever made in my life! 😀

No Beach Option

Part of why I created the Plaster Casting Activity, and also the Graffiti Writing at the Venice Beach Art Walls Activity, is that most of you love going to the beach. And we go to a school called The Beach yet most classes never actually go to The Beach! 😛 So it seemed like these 2 activities could be great excuses to go to The Beach as part of your work at The Beach.

It turns out I was right… mostly… 90% of college students do love going to the beach. But that means in a class of 125, there are 12-1/2 of you who hate the beach! 🙁

And even if you love the beach, you might not be able to get there. This activity is probably easiest at the beach since the sand & water you need are just there for you. But you can do it at home or wherever you like if you fill a bucket with some sand. A 5-gallon bucket would be ideal. Smaller will probably work. Sand or “play sand” is available very cheaply at your nearby hardware store.


  • Metal Shovel (large or small)
  • Carton of Plaster – 4 pounds is great for 1 person
  • Bucket
  • Stir Stick
  • Paint Brush (optional, to dust off finished piece)

You might also like to bring:

  • Football
  • Frisbee
  • Swimsuit
  • Snacks
  • etc – Whatever you like while you wait 1/2 hour for the plaster to “set”.


  1. Pick a spot near the water – too far ashore: dry sand, too close: waves!
  2. Dig a hole you can insert your hand or foot into
  3. Insert hand or foot
  4. Use bucket to get wet sand and have teammates pour around body part and pack it in
  5. Remove body part carefully, trying not to damage your mold
  6. Make one mold (or more) for each team member
  7. Have all molds ready before mixing plaster – it will set in your bucket!
  8. TWO parts plaster & ONE part water in bucket – stir fast & hard
  9. Pour plaster into your molds carefully, not quickly, or it’ll damage your mold
  10. Wait about 1/2 hour
  11. Carefully dig out your casting – try not to break thin parts
  12. Marvel at your creation! 🙂
  13. You can brush sand off if you like, but DO NOT RINSE it, it will fall apart!
  14. For your write-up: show your piece & talk about your experience (photos or video as you prefer)
  15. Fill in all the holes on the beach – so nobody walks by later and falls in one!
  16. Pick up trash/clean up mess / leave beach a nice place
  17. Walk to Ruby’s, Cold Stone, etc, and eat food! 🙂



Aerial view of Seal Beach Pier with directions to parking and Life Guard Tower 2 where Art110 meets for Plaster Casting Activity

Your Write-Up

Photos / Video
Like all activities, you should document your work with photos or a video.

Discuss your experience

  • How did it go?
  • Have you done something like this before?
  • Can you think of ways to apply or adapt it to other activities in your life?
  • What would you try next time?

3 CSULB students holding up plaster casts made of their hand or foot


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