Hand Sculptures

Only 2 Ingredients!

These hand sculptures were such a fun project, and surprisingly easy to create! You only need 2 ingredients: dental alginate and plaster. Here's how to make them on your own.


Alginate is a great media to use for art projects. It’s the same stuff that dentists use to make molds of your mouth, and it does an amazing job of getting the fine details, like the wrinkles in skin or tips of fingernails. It’s white, but you can paint it after it’s dry if you want, or just mix food coloring in the plaster to make a color beforehand. It makes a great sculpture that you can hang against the wall or place on a shelf.


You can get the alginate from amazon by searching for dental alginate. It’s a bit expensive, so make sure you estimate and buy more than you need just in case.

How I Made the Sculptures

The two steps are to create the mold, then use plaster to fill in the mold. The alginate is for the mold, and the plaster is for the replica.


For the first step, make sure you have a large enough bowl to not only place your hand or whatever object you’re molding, but also the alginate and the amount it will rise when the object is in as well. I used a simple kitchen bowl, but I did waste a lot of alginate because of the size of the bowl. So try to use a container that fits your object and alginate just enough without wasting much space. It should also be easy to get the alginate out. If you use a long thin container, it may be hard to get the mold out once it’s dry. I preferred plastic to glass. You can even try cardboard and rip it off when the alginate is dry.


Follow the instructions on the alginate packaging to create the mixture. You have to be quick and watch the clock to keep your object in for exactly the right amount of time necessary. Once the alginate has dried, slowly pull your hand out without trying to rip the mold.


Next create the Plaster of Paris mixture by adding the right amount of water. Pour the plaster in the mold, and make sure it gets down into every crevice by shaking the mold container. Make sure it fills up to the very top of the mold; you can alway smooth down the end with very rough sanding paper. Make sure not to get any on your hands while working! Again, watch the clock to make sure it doesn’t dry before you’re ready.


Wait for the plaster to completely dry (I waited a day to be safe), then carve it out of the mold by cutting up the alginate. The alginate soaks up some of the water, so the sculpture may still be a bit wet. Allow it to dry for another day. If you want to hammer a wall hanging into the sculpture, do it while it’s still malleable before it dries. If you want to paint it a color other than white, you can do that afterwards. See the finished project below!

sideprojectsAndrea Hock