How to Make a Plaster of Paris Paw Print

By Laure Justice

You can make a plaster of paris paw print as a keepsake of a beloved pet with a few craft supplies. You can either leave the plaster of paris piece with a natural white finish or paint it and add embellishments as desired.

Things you will need

  • Plaster of paris
  • Mixing bowl
  • Water
  • Wooden craft stick or plastic butter knife
  • Old plastic food container
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Artist's paint brush (optional)
  • Craft glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)

Mixing Plaster of Paris

Mix the plaster of paris according to the directions on the package, keeping in mind that it should have a texture similar to that of pancake batter when you have added enough water. The amount you make depends on the size of the paw print you are casting. For a small print and casting, you need about 1 cup of plaster while a large paw print will require more.

Pour the plaster powder into the mixing bowl, then add the water slowly.

Stir the plaster and water thoroughly, using the wooden craft stick or plastic butter knife.

Prepare the mold for making the casting or imprint.

Mix plaster of paris outside or in a well-ventilated area in case the dust goes airborne before the water is added. Wearing a mask is an option, but also make sure your pet does not inhale the plaster dust.

Plaster of Paris Casting

To make a plaster of paris casting, find a clear paw print in the mud or sand. If the paw print looks blurry in the mud, it probably will not give you a very good casting.

Cut 1 inch of the rim off an old plastic container that is big enough to fit around the paw print, leaving at least 1/2 inch extra all the way around the paw print.

Press the plastic container's rim into the ground to form a mold around the paw print.

Pour the prepared plaster of paris into the mold and let it rest undisturbed for a minimum of 1/2 hour so it can set up before you try to move it. If possible, it is better to give the casting longer to set up completely. If it is in an out-of-the-way spot, leave the mold in place overnight.

Lift the plastic container rim gently. If it pops away from the casting, set it aside and dig your fingertips under the edge of the casting before gently lifting it up with your fingertips.

Plaster of Paris Imprinting

Rather than stick your pet's paw into a dish of gooey plaster of paris to make an imprint, which would most likely lead to your pet licking dripping plaster of paris off his foot, use about 2 cups of nontoxic play dough, polymer clay or homemade dough to make the imprint. The dough should not stick to your pet's paw, but if it does, you can easily wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Roll the dough into a ball and then flatten it to about 1 to 2 inches thick.

Press the bottom of a small plastic container into the dough to form a crater about 1/2 inch deep. Lift the container out and set it aside.

Press your pet's paw gently into the center of the play dough mold, then lift it straight up.

Check your pet's paw for dough residue, and wipe it off it there is any present.

Pour the plaster of paris into your homemade imprint then let it dry for a minimum of two hours.

Peel the play dough away from the molded imprint, then let the imprint dry for several more hours to be sure it is set up before doing anything with the imprint.

If you decide to make the imprint by dipping your pet's paw directly in the plaster of paris, add less water to make it a bit thicker than pancake batter, then dip your pet's paw in the plaster and press down gently to get a clear print. Then, quickly wash your pet's paw off to remove all the plaster from its paw pads, fur and claws. Let the imprint dry completely before displaying or decorating.

Ideas for Decorating Keepsake Paw Prints

While you can enjoy your plaster casting or imprint in its natural white state, you can embellish the piece to suit your taste.

  • Use acrylic paint to add your favorite colors or your pet's name to the plaster of paris casting or imprint.
  • If glitter is desired, lightly spray the surface of the piece with craft glue then sprinkle the glitter into the glue and let dry completely before displaying.