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beestie, i just realized that the most important part of my last post was left out.  Before you take an impression of foot or hand put the porcelain  onto a board.  then follow the above instructions.

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+1 for making plaster casts.  It sounds like more work, but in the long run, it is quicker.



  • Mix plaster
  • Put foot hand onto plaster
  • Allow plaster to dry - several days
  • Pour clay slip into plaster
  • Allow to dry, remove before cracks
  • Fire

You'd then have a positive casting but maybe you want to be different from all the other folks doing this.  If you want negative space, you need to make another plastercast from the original, and then slip-cast from that.  Plaster is cheap, your time isn't, and although it sounds like a lot of work, once you are set up with cottle boards (see book below) it is like any other process.


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Essential-Guide-Making-Casting-Ceramics/dp/1600590772 -  try library?


Good Luck


DO you take the foot out of the plaster before pouring in the slip??

My thoughts too Babs! Made me chuckle, picturing the baby with its foot in the plaster for several days!

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You might find that a different material can give the results you need. I found this post on Amazon while researching Crayola Model Magic to make cosplay horns for my granddaughter:



"I bought this specifically to make handprint & feetprint ornaments for Baby's 1st Christmas. They turned out great! My 4 month old daughter could press her hand into the rolled-out modeling compound with a little help from Mom and it made a nice, clear handprint with great details (like her adorable sausage finger joints). Best part? No icky residues or gunk sticking to her fingers/hands, which is important because babies love to stick their hands into their mouths.


Once baby had made a few prints, I used cookie cutters to cut them out (hearts & circles) and used a straw to make holes for hanging ribbons to go through. They dried in a couple of days & looked great, but I wanted to embellish them so I put some glitter around the outside of the prints and brushed a thin coat of DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze over it all. The ornaments look amazing - it couldn't have been easier. This modeling compound is AWESOME."



This product could eliminate the steep learning curve required for ceramic clay and can replicate all the qualities you want. Air dries with no heating required, non-toxic, light weight, can be tinted, painted or stained.


Just be sure to not bend the material between taking the impression and drying by leaving the Model Magic on a flat surface throughout the process.

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I have made hand and foot impressions of ~6 month old babies in out-of-the-bag cone 10 porcelain slabs rolled to about 1/4 inch thickness with a rolling pin.  The slabs were thin so I could make either tiles or form ~3 inch square cups from the impressions.  Thicker slabs will also work.  I started with slabs larger than final size to be able to trim them to size based on where the impressions actually were made - you will not have complete control of where the baby's hand will hit the clay. 


As Oldlady said, you should have a solid support under the clay when make the impression.  I place a sheet of Saran Wrap between the clay and the table to allow me to move the slab around the studio.  You need to apply some force to get the impression, The weight of the baby usually isn't enough.  I also wiggle their hand or foot to be sure I get an interesting impression. 


Make numerous impressions and then choose the best after they have dries somewhat.  Then recycle the clay of those that are not used.  Dusting the surface of the clay with corn starch helps to keep the hand/foot from sticking to the clay.  It will burn off in the kiln when bisqued. 


 After the all impressions are made, I peel the plastic from the bottom of the slabs and place them on paper towels to dry slowly - say over three of four days under plastic.   


I glazed the finished pieces with a transparent glaze (celadon) but unglazed bisque or mature fired will also work depending on the final aesthetic requirements.  Any smooth clay will work for this, even low fired terra-cotta.  I used porcelain because that was what the client requested. 


If there are siblings, you might want to make impressions of both the new-born along side the elders.




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Hi just in case: don't use plaster on a new born or even a baby, it could burn them. They have much more delicate skin. I wouldn't even go near them with stain, sensitivities and allergies can develop from exposure. Also have you fired any of the lost detail pieces? Because it just may be hard to see the detail in the unfired piece. Also different clays will hold different amount of detail, and if the clay is too wet it might loose detail. I recently got some low fire clay that is a completely different animal to the stoneware and porcelain I have been messing with: it is soft without much water at all. I would see if the clay supplier can get you maybe sample slabs that are small that you could try out in sequence on one subject then you would have a comparison.


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Hi Beestie


Welcome to the forums.


The larger photo sample looks like a plaster cast, the other 3 look like clay, the top one glazed.  


Think I'd try porcelain paperclay......soft like regular porcelain but holds it shape much better. Think too I'd roll out the clay thin (3mm), cut the tile shape and rest them on thin plywood or MDF  'coaster' sized pieces of wood....THEN press the little hand or foot into the clay while clay and foot are supported by the wood.  Set the tiles aside to dry while still on the wood, they wont stick,  The dry paperclay feels like cardboard and is easier to move to the kiln after its dry.


Don't worry about hand or foot print shrinking by the end of the whole clay process.....the foot will have grown anyway by tomorrow and parents never really care about exact mm measurements, they just want to remember that the big, mouthy teenager they will get was once adoring and cute!


Agree with others though.......set up a collaboration with a potter and build their fee into yours....will half your workload/client and likely double your potential clients.


Don't forget to show us photos of your solution.....we want to know how it works out!



PS. With my own son's hand prints at age 7, I used a thick tile of stoneware clay sloshed with shino glaze and tossed into a week long anagama firing.  My son helped monitor that firing, he so loved the flames!.... and at the time of unpacking he climbed into the kiln chamber to find his keepsake....we still have it on the mantlepiece. Makes me smile.




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