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Life Casting Information
01What is the overall molding and casting procedure?
 

All of our life casting kits have easy step-by-step instructions. Here are the general steps:

  1. Mix the molding powder with water. Once the material turns from pink to white, insert the foot, hand or pairs of hands into the molding material. Within about 1 minute after turning white (if using room temp water), the mold sets.
  2. Wiggle the foot or hand(s) out of the molding material.
  3. Mix the bag of casting stone with water or prepare the wax. Pour the casting mixture or wax into the mold. Let the casting stone or wax harden.
  4. Tear open the mold, remove the statue and enjoy.
Also, see the general Photo Instructions in our photo gallery. 

02What type of molding material is provided and how does it work?
 
All molding powder is not created equal and the molding powder we supply is manufactured to our specifications and is unique to Casting Keepsakes casting kits. You will not find a higher quality molding powder in any retail or pre-assembled casting kit on the market. Our exclusive formula includes chromatic (color-changing) properties, which eliminates the need of timing the procedure. When the off-white powder is added to water, the mixture starts out lavender, turns bright pink while mixing and is ready for molding once it has turned back to the original off-white color. The result is a highly detailed, very strong mold.

When using the average mix as directed in the kits (65g of powder per 1 cup of water) in room temperature water, the total working time of the molding material is about 3-4 minutes. Approximately 1/2 of the working time is for mixing and the second 1/2 of the time is for molding with the hand(s) or foot in the material. The water amount can also be adjusted to alter the set time. Less water will cause it to set faster and more water will allow it to set slower. Keep in mind that a thicker mix may make it more difficult to remove the mold from the cast and a thinner mix will be a little weaker. All alginate molds will deteriorate quickly. It is recommended that you cast into the mold within 4 hours. If this is not possible, store the mold in an air tight container in a cool environment, such as a refrigerator, for up to 24 hours.

Room temperature (75F; slightly cool to the touch) works well for adult and child hand kits as it is comfortable enough for most and gives an adequate total working time of about 3-4 minutes. For the infant and toddler foot and hand kits, we suggest using luke-warm water (85-90F) which will give about a 2.5- 3 minutes total set time. Alternatively, cold water (60-65F) can be used, which will give you a total working time of about 4-5 minutes.

Water with a high mineral content will cause any alginate mix to become lumpier than normal. If you think this is a concern, consider bottled or other filtered water.

Note: Timing starts from the time the powder enters the water and the above referenced times assume the powder has been stored at at about 70-75F for at least 12 hours.

Create-A-Mold Alginate Molding Powder Technical Information (MSDS)
03What type of casting stone (plaster product) is supplied with the kits?
  We use a Gypsum Cement that dries to a pristine white, provides fine detail and is chip & chalk resistant. It has high green strength (such as when demolding), remains workable while wet and gains its full strength once 100% dry. Overall, it is 3-4X stronger than the traditional art plaster or "plaster of paris." Casting Stone Technical Information (MSDS)
04What are the set and dry times of the casting stone, and what finishes can be used on it?
  Once poured, the casting stone will take about 2 hours to cure in the mold. For very large castings (pairs of adult hands, etc) allow 3-4 hours. You will know it has cured when it is hard and cool to the touch. Once demolded, allow the statue to dry fully in an open (no shelves, dark closets, etc) well-ventilated environment. The drying time is approximately 1-2 days for each 1/2 inch of thickness. Once fully dry, the statue can be sealed with water-based paints. Acrylics work well and metallic finishes help reveal tiny details in the casting. You can also use clear sealants and glazes that are meant for plasters, clays and bisque.
07What if my child wiggles or moves during the 3D molding process?
 

As long as the foot/hand remains submerged within and completelly covered by the molding material during the setting process, the foot/hand can be allowed to wiggle freely within the material without affecting the final mold.

How is this possible: The molding material remains a very thick liquid during nearly all of the molding process until all at once within about a 5-10 second time frame, it sets. Before it sets, the material clings to the skin during wiggling and that wiggling actually helps break up air bubbles reducing flaws later on. Once set, the material turns rubbery, flexible and is slippery inside, yet it has captured the tiniest of details.

Also, very young children typically do not have the strength to break through the mold once it is set, which preserves the mold until an adult guides the hand or foot out. It is because of these properties that the material works so well with wiggling fingers or toes. It’s not like old fashioned film where you had to sit still during a 3 minute exposure time, etc.

Please Note: During the 5-10 second setting window near the end of the process, strong movements (more than a baby's natural wiggling) can distort the mold. Therefore, even though some wiggling is okay and even preferred, the best advice is to wait until baby is in a good mood, is fed and relaxed, or even asleep before making the mold. Overall, we strongly recommend 2 adults be available to complete the molding process: one to tend to the child and one to read instructions and prepare the mold.

08How do I get my child's hand out of the mold?
  Although the mold is very strong and firm, it is also very flexible and slippery inside. Because your child’s hand is also flexible, his or her hand will slip out of the mold cleanly with just a slight wiggle and gentle pull.
09How safe are your products considering they may be used on an infant?
 

The alginate molding material is non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, 100% biodegradable and is created especially for direct use on skin. Although we cannot make a guarantee against reactions (nor can anyone else with any type of product), there are no known reports of an allergic reaction to the prepared alginate material.

It is a water based product with a primary ingredient of processed seaweed. It does not heat up while setting, will set with either cool or warm water and pulls away cleanly when set. It has been used in the medical and dental professions safely for many years to help make various types of prosthetics, including dentures, and to protect the most sensitive of open wounds.

As with any powder, you should avoid inhalation. Otherwise, if is safe for the prepared molding material to come into contact with even a newborn baby’s skin.

This alginate based molding powder meets ISO #1563 specifications. Also, potassium alginate (such as that contained in our formula) is regulated by the FDA as a food product.

Note: This is the only substance that will be in contact with your child while making the mold. The child is not required for the remainder of the process.

Create-A-Mold Alginate Molding Powder Technical Information (MSDS)

11Is the 3D mold reusable?
  The molding material is generally not reusable as the set material needs to be peeled away from the finished casting. However if you do a an impression casting as shown in one of the examples in the gallery, then the casting can be poured more than once into the same mold to create multiple identical castings. The molding containers, however, are reusable in most cases.
13I broke off a finger when demolding the statue. Can this be repaired?
  The best option for repair is to use a super/crazy glue. Add glue to the detached end and then hold it in place for at least 1 minute until the glue holds (see individual glue directions). If needed, fresh casting stone mix can be applied to the outside area of the break if their are any gaps or chips (depending on how the break occurred).
14What are the different finish options and do I need one?
  You do not need to add a sealant or finish to the casting, but it is recommended. The casting stone when set is somewhat porous and will absorb oils from hands when they are handled, which may cause a discoloration over time. We have two clear finishes. The clear matte finish leaves the casting the most natural and has little to no shine. The clear glaze is a brush on clear sealant that is intended to give the casting the appearance of being fire glazed as would be done with ceramics. All other colors provide full coverage (cannot be seen through) and have a metallic nature: pearl, 14k gold, silver and bronze. See photo example of finishes here.
16I want to purchase bulk materials. How do I determine what I need?
 

Below are some general guidelines for estimating the amount of bulk materials you may need:

Molding Powder (Step 1): Find a container that will accommodate the hands (or foot, etc.), but yet isn't way too big. Then with the hands in place inside the empty container, begin filling with water until the water covers the areas you want to cast. Remove the hand(s) and measure the water used. For every 9 cups of water measured, you would need a 1lb bag of alginate powder. [A 1lb bag of alginate *yields* 9 cups of material.]

Casting Stone (Step 2): In general, for each teen or adult hand cast up to the wrist you will need up to 1lb of stone. For each child hand or infant foot, you will need up to 1/2 lb. If casting above the hand and into wrist/ankle and/or if you will be adding an integrated base, you will need a little more.

Overall, if you are casting infants, you will need approximately the same amounts (by weight) of bulk powders. If casting mostly adult hands, you will need approximately twice as much bulk casting stone as you do bulk molding powder (again, by weight).

Keep in mind that the above information provides only estimations. The exact amounts depend on you specific project. If you are unsure if you will have enough, it is always best to estimate high.

19How much alginate do I need for my project?
 

The following directions will help you determine the volume of prepared molding material (and thus the amount of alginate molding powder) needed for your project.

1. Find your container. This can be a large disposable cup (for a hand) or a shoe box lined with plastic (for a foot). Overall, find a container that is 1-2 inches larger all the way around the foot or hands you want to cast. There is really no right or wrong container, but make sure what you are going to cast will fit inside the container comfortably, but not with a lot of extra space. Any extra space will require extra alginate to fill it. Too little space and the hand/foot might touch the inside of the container during the procedure and spoil the casting.

Other container suggestions: cylinder shaped plastic food/deli containers, cut-off 2 liter soda bottles, etc.

2. With the hand or foot in position inside the container, add water until you get the coverage you need (the part of the hand or foot you want to cast). Remove the hand or foot and then measure out how much water you used. Round up to the nearest cup and record this number for later (or save the water if you are ready to make the cast). Once the water volume has been determined, move on to step 3 to find out how much powder to add to it.

3. It is best to weigh the powder. For every 1 cup of water, you will need 65g (2.3oz) of molding powder. However, if you do not have a scale available, the ratio is approximately 1 to 1 by volume (1 cup of water mixed with 1 cup of powder) if the powder is very lightly fluffed and not compressed, etc. [Measure by volume only if you MUST as it is not nearly as accurate as measuring by weight.]

Note: The above method will be a little of an overestimate as the yield of the mixture is about 15% more than the volume of water (so if you use 8 cups of water, the mixture will actually create closer to 9 cups of molding material).

22Can I use this the kits on my pet?
  Although we do not currently have a kit that is labeled as a pet kit at this time, both the Air Dry Clay and the 3D Life Casting Kits may be used for pets. For the clay kits, follow the directions included as they are the same for both pets and children. For the life casting kits, the Infant Hand Casting Kit works well for small dogs and cats, the Child Hand Casting Kit for medium dogs and the Trophy Hands kit for large dogs. In addition to the directions provided with life casting kits, we suggest inserting the paw to the bottom of the cup, then rotating the cup 1/2 turn and finally, pulling the paw back up about 1 inch. This will help get the fur going the "right" direction. Other important information: The molding material does not generally stick to short fur and therefore nothing other than getting the paw wet before hand is necessary. However, as a preventative measure and certainly for longer-haired dogs, cooking oil or pretroleum jelly can be used to prevent the material from sticking. Keep in mind, however, that whatever you put on you pet's paw will most likely be licked off by your pet afterwards so be sure it is something safe for them to ingest.
25I lost my instructions. How much water do I mix with the powder?
  If you have never before used any of our kits, we strongly suggest that you contact us to receive an emailed copy of the complete directions. If you are familiar with your kit, the following are the corresponding water amounts needed for the standard powder amounts.

Step 1:
65g - 1 cup of water
100g - 1 1/2 cups of water
130g - 2 cups of water
165g - 2 1/2 cups of water
325g - 5 cups of water
450g - 7 1/2 cups of water.

Step 2 (you may add more water 1tsp at a time to this powder to achieve a mixture the consistency of paint.
125g - 1/3 cup of water
180g - 1/2 cup of water
250g - 3/4 cup of water
375g - 1 cup of water
2lbs - 2 1/2 cups of water
2.5lbs - 3 1/2 cups of water.

Also, video directions are can be found here.
30I think I see spots on my casting as it dries. What are they?
 
It is possible that the colored spots are a common mold. It is rare, but mold can grow on the cast surface if the conditions are just right. Usually, microscopic mold spores that are always all around us transfer from the foot or hand to the molding material and then transfer to the stone while the stone cast is curing. The molding material is an excellent food source and it is also dark and damp inside the mold. So again, if the environmental circumstances are just right, mold spores are able to begin to grow in the dark/damp environment and then can possibly continue to grow on the cast as long as the cast is wet.

To fix the situation, use 100% plain bleach (dilute up to 50%) and with a synthetic bristle paint brush, dab the bleach onto the discolored spots. If the mold is raised, rub or scrape off what you can first. You may need to dab the bleach more than once on tough spots. You will see the spots fade and of course the mold will be killed. Once you are done applying the bleach and allow the cast to completely dry, you may finish with paints or glaze as usual. There likely will be no evidence that there ever was an issue.

The best way to keep this from happening: (1) to wash the hands/feet thoroughly before beginning the molding and casting process and (2) keep the casting in a well ventilated room while drying - fans or circulating air of some type - even better.