What Do You Know About Plaster of Paris?

Posted by Lisa Benson on

Every day our casters dip their hands into a fine white powder, mix it using centuries’ old techniques, and pour, splash, and drip it into our molds. The magic is undeniable—how this amorphous powder, alchemized into a liquid, can take the form of a face, a hand, a finely sculpted animal.

The history of plaster of Paris is long and enduring—it can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In the well-known civilization along the Nile, they used plaster of Paris to make sculptures and to decorate their homes. The Romans also used it to make buildings and to repair damaged objects.

Plaster is made from gypsum, which is a natural mineral that’s found in many parts of the world, including here in America. Gypsum is heated to a high temperature, which causes it to lose water and become powdery. This powdery material is then reunited with water to form plaster of Paris. It’s in this plastic cauldron that we find the forms of many great sculptures that we can share with you.

We wanted to show you some pictures from our workshop, to celebrate the beautiful material of plaster of Paris.

We hope you enjoy these photos,

The Caproni Collection


hand putting scoop into bucket of plaster in powder form
Dipping our scoop into plaster to start mixing for the mold.
three buckets - blue, red, and clear - with plaster in them and on and around them
These are some buckets we use for mixing.
closeup of faucet covered in plaster
This is our plaster sink. Can you tell we’ve touched it many times?
hands in blue gloves mixing plaster in a bucket
Here we are mixing plaster for a cast. We mix using metal spoons and also hands.
closeup of plaster in a bucket, almost completely mixed
This is a closeup of plaster in a bucket, almost completely mixed.
hand holding flat wide tool smoothing plaster around edge of a pink rubber mold
Here we are smoothing the plaster that we’ve poured into a mold, and making sure it will be a strong and beautiful cast.
closeup of wide brush with plaster brushing plaster onto plaster
In some cases, we brush on the plaster.
plaster in a circular black rubber mold
This is a finished cast in a mold. It has to dry for a bit before we can take it out.
tool shelf with brushes, spoons, spray bottles, cans, jars, buckets and drinking mugs with plaster splattered on shelves and wall
Our tool shelf includes everything from coffee mugs (gotta have a pick-me-up!) to brushes with extra-long handles to reach inside a deep mold.
closeup of sink drain coated in plaster and spatula
This is a view into our plaster sink, which is built to catch any extra plaster. As you can imagine, the substance should not go down the pipes!
closeup of someone's hands using a tool on a newly-made plaster cast of a flying female figure
Once we take the cast out of the mold, we do preliminary finishing work.
closeup of plaster cast of male bust showing an eye being worked with a sculpting tool
After a cast has had a few days to dry, we can complete finishing work and apply the patina. 



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