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Make cement foot prints and hand prints

Glittering Shards: Make cement foot prints and hand prints

Glittering Shards

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Make cement foot prints and hand prints

This is a great activity which creates wonderful memories of babies & children's footprints at various stages of life - you can go to town and do the whole family, including your pets!

We have just done them as a memento of when Isabella started school. Her footprint will be a stepping stone. Toby's hand print was done in a smaller container and will become a paperweight. You can also do them as doorstops, bookends...whatever creative function for a lovingly adorned bit of concrete you can find! Think Christmas presents for grandparents, mother's and father's day etc..

A friend of mine left recesses in her patio especially for this and I recently went round and did them with her children (see pic at the top). They loved it and mum says it looks 'magical' having their footprints immortalised in the garden.

Don't be intimidated by concrete if you have never used it before...its easy peasy as you will see here.

What You Need
  • Mortar (a mix of cement and fine sand) easily and cheaply available from DIY stores (I have tried this activity with both rapid set cement and cement adhesive (thinset) and it didn't work so well, so best avoided)
  • Containers to cast the prints into. We used an old spring form baking tin (where the side can be loosened and removed) and an old Tupperware tub. You can use anything with sides (old take-away containers, foil trays, plant trays etc...)
  • An old bucket to mix the mortar in
  • Something to mix and smooth like a decorators palette knife - or a stick and an old credit card!
  • WD40 or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) for lubricating the container 
  • Water to hand
  • Gloves (it can be a bit messy and cement can make sensitive skin sore)
  • Mask (for pouring cement powder - you don't want to breathe it in)
  • Things to decorate your stepping stone with if you wish (we, of course, used mosaic tiles)
What to do

1. Get everything ready and to hand as you need to work methodically.

2. Line the inside of your casting containers with WD40 or petroleum jelly so that you will be able to easily release the cast when it is dry.
3. Pour mortar powder into an old bucket (use your mask)and slowly mix until you get a peanut butter consistency.
4. Pour the mixture into your casting container, pressing and smoothing it with your palette knife / credit card (should take a couple of minutes) until it is level.
5. Clean your child's hand or foot (and put a bit of oil on to act as a barrier for sensitive skin).
6. Rather than letting your child step into the cement (which will be their instinct), hold their foot and gently (but firmly) push it in yourself. This will help make sure you use the right amount of pressure (if they step right in it will squish too much). Babies will have a tendency to grab the cement so its best to push the hand / foot in firmly and then remove it quickly. If you end up with too much squish or not enough of an impression, simply smooth the cement out and try again until you are happy with it. There is plenty of working time with the mortar mix.
 7. If you want, you can now decorate the cast. You can also add name and age using a pencil nib. If you are embedding objects into the cement, make sure you push them in firmly so that the surface doesn't have jagged edges and the pieces stay put when dry.
8. Cover it and leave it to dry for 2 weeks - it takes this long to cure. You can spray it occasionally with water to help the cement cure, especially if it is very hot.
9. After 2 weeks, turn the cast upside down - it should pop out of its container easily - and voila! If at this point, a bit  of decoration falls out, you can stick it back in its place with PVA (Weldbond) glue.
10. If you want to use your cast as a paperweight or doorstop, you can stick some felt underneath to make sure it doesn't scratch surfaces.

We also added some iridescent glitter glue into the imprints of ours - for a bit of extra sparkle. Why not do a stepping stone a year and create a great garden path? I wish I had started doing this when my two were babies, but its better late than never!

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