North Woods Guides Blog

Plaster Casting

Hello again!! I was going to post some new pics but figured I would do a little writing instead. I’ve been out casting tracks the past couple weeks and thought I would share just how easy it is to make a plaster cast of a animals track as well as how to get your kids involved in something fun. How do I know kids will like it you ask?? Because if my 14 year old daughter who finds my life as mundane as watching paint dry found it interesting enough to try then I know there must be some fun involved.

Your first mission is to go down to the hardware store and pick up a box of Plaster of paris about $5 bucks for a box, that’s it, all the money you need to spend. Find yourself a nice clear track impression, you can even do the family dog or cat if you want a keepsake of their footprint.  The best place to find tracks is near water, the edge of a beaver pond, lake or stream. All animals need water so they all visit watering holes and there is usually some good mud along the shoreline where they leave nice clear track impressions.

I carry my plaster in ziploc bags, it’s easier than lugging the box around and you can seal the bag up better than the opened box so it won’t get all over the inside of your pack. Once you find a good track use your hands to scrape up some dirt or mud to build a dam completely around the track. Stay about 2 inches from the sides of the track and make the dam about 2 inches high. Smooth it all out on the sides so you have a nice smooth cast when your done.  Use another ziploc bag to get some water. Now your ready to mix, pour some water into your bag holding the plaster and nead the bag with your fingers or stir witha stick or spoon. You want the mixture the same consistency as pancake batter. Just add more water or powder if needed. Once your mixed up pour the plaster into the track impression first and then fill the surrounding dam area. Wait 15 minutes and lift your casting up, brush off all the dirt and debris that may be stuck to it. That’s it, all there is to it and now you have a pretty cool track impression.

If you wanted to get a little fancier and make a wall plaque of the track, before you mix up your plaster place a stick on the outside of your dam pointing in the same direction the tack is pointing, this is just for orientation purposes. After you pour the plaster in the dam place a paperclip or an I-hook in at an angle toward the stick. Once the plaster is hard you have a built in wall hanger. It’s a pretty fun way to spend time with your kids and get back to nature. Enjoy!!!  Happy Hiking

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