1 year olds and plaster don’t mix

Have you ever tried to get a plaster handprint of a 13 month old? If not, let me tell you it’s damn near impossible. If you did, you have my deepest sympathies.

When Ava was born, my friend’s mom sent us a box from Pottery Barn Kids containing plaster and five plastic molds and tins of varying sizes to make handprints of your child from age 1 to 5.

I thought – what great keepsakes! How cute they will look hanging in her bedroom! What a wonderful idea! Oh, how very wrong I was.

Great keepsake? Maybe (if you can ever get a handprint in it). Cute hanging on the walls? If you like messy, globby-looking artwork that resembles nothing. Wonderful idea?? NO! NO! NO!

Actually in theory it’s an excellent idea, but I challenge you to find a 1 year old who will allow you to put her hand in plaster without squishing it between her little fingers.

I’ve tried doing her handprint four times now. Twice while it was obviously too wet and squishy. Once after I’d waited too long and it was nearly set up so I could barely press her hand into it (which in retrospect is the one I should’ve kept!). And once after I broke apart the mold, ground it back down into a powder (for the most part), rewetted and mixed it and tried all over again. At which time it was, once again, too wet and she grabbed a handful of plaster. Turns out that when they say, “PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. DO NOT DEVIATE” they really mean it. Apparently plaster cannot be reworked once it’s started to dry. ;oP

By this time the girl had had enough and was ready for a nap. As if to illustrate the point, before I could grab the wash cloth to wipe her off, she reached up and rubbed her eyes with her plaster-coated hand. Oy vey!

(Who invented this blasted kit??!)

Leaving the kitchen and dining room covered in spatters of plaster, I took the sleepy girl upstairs for her nap.

After I got over my initial frustration at the whole ordeal, the wheels began to spin in my little noggin. Perhaps I could get a decent handprint while she slept! At that point I was nearly resigned to letting the mold dry as it was (without a handprint, that is if it would even dry after all my reworking it, etc.), and tracing her hand on it with a Sharpie! The Pottery Barn people would surely tut tut disapprovingly at the very idea.

So my last ditch effort was to try to make the impression while she slept. It certainly couldn’t be any worse than what I already did. Right? Right?? ;)

I went back to the Pottery Barn Kids box to retrieve tin #2 – “My handprint when I was 2…” for it’s plaster contents. (Shhhh, don’t tell.) I prepared the plaster and then, considering myself an expert by this point, waited until it had set up enough so that it wouldn’t stick to her, but not too much that it wouldn’t be pliable. The timing had to be perfect if this was going to work (and not leave a plastery mess all over the bed).

And so I sat and waited, watching plaster dry, which is, I believe, more interesting than watching paint dry.

The time had come. Off to the bedroom I crept, plastic mold of plaster in hand.

Foiled again! The pesky plaster was still too wet. (Can you say pain in the ass??) Thankfully, Ava only stirred ever so slightly before going back to sleep.

I decided to give it one more try and then call it quits no matter what. I pressed her hand into the plaster and she woke up, unhappy to have been disturbed.

After all of that I guess you could say that I got a handprint. It sort of resembles one anyway (or a dinosaur footprint). :oP
I just might have to go buy my own bag of plaster and play with it. Then maybe with enough practice and determination, by the time she’s 5 years old we’ll have something that actually looks like a hand!