Help Me Remember This Thing From My UK Childhood
December 27, 2021 9:12 AM   Subscribe

When I was a kid growing up in the UK (late 70's/ early 80's), I had this kit of small moulds, and you'd hang one upside down (usually in a pint glass), pour plaster into it and leave it overnight, then peel off the mould and paint the thing you've made. IIRC there were several moulds, but I only remember a small squirrel with a bushy tail, approx 3-4" tall. Did anyone have anything like this? If so, what was it called, and what were the other moulds?

Additional details:
1. The moulds had a wide (2" diameter?) base, and you'd hang them upside down by cutting a square out of a cereal box, cutting a hole in the center (a little bigger than the size of the neck of the mould), squeezing the mould through the hole and then suspending the mould upside-down in a tall, wide glass using the card around the neck as the support.
2. The moulds were latex and semi-transparent/ light brown in colour.
3. There was one other mould I vaguely recall, inside-out (i.e. had been peeled off) and it was person shaped, but I don't remember more than that.
4. Both the moulds and the plaster had particular smells.
5. I can't remember if the paints came with the kit.
posted by my log does not judge to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It sounds a lot like the Beatrix Potter modelling kits which were around in various forms at that time. The linked one sounds like yours but I imagine there were many different companies making similar products. I had some in the late 80's/early 90's, your question has given me vivid sense memories of the smell of the rubber and the warm feel of the plaster as it cured.
posted by fight or flight at 9:21 AM on December 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Plastercasters! I had a Paddington Bear one like this
posted by boudicca at 9:23 AM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I remember these, they had a spell of popularity, although Google tells me you can still get modern kits! I made a badger. I think a company called Galt might have made some kits. I was born early 80s and made them at least until 1993 ish.

I still remember the problem of trapped bubbles in the ears that would spoil your finished cast somewhat!
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 9:32 AM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh my gosh: how did you guys remember that?!?!
posted by my log does not judge at 9:34 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh my goodness, I haven't thought of those for decades. Thank you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Okay look, I'm from the US so I don't know what you guys are talking about...but this now makes legendary rock n roll groupie Cynthia Albritton's nickname of "Plaster Caster" even more apt!
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2021

I also had them as a kid, Disney characters in my case. In France right now the equivalent is made by a brand called "mako moulages" and there's a lot of different models available.
posted by anzen-dai-ichi at 12:55 PM on December 27, 2021

I grew up in the Midwest US and I distinctly recall casting and painting perched birds - Robin, Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird, Oriole, Bluejay...

Red rubber molds with a flange, to hang inside a drinking glass, careful mixing & pouring to prevent voids, as NoiselessPenguin mentions. They would get warm, the plaster reaction is exothermic.
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:10 PM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

As with concrete, vibration is the way to get the bubbles out. For small plaster casts you can't beat an electric toothbrush, with the head removed. Tape a cocktail stick or similar to the end, and poke it into the plaster when it's on. The vibrations will encourage bubbles to the top and remove the "cavities at the ears" problem
posted by tillsbury at 2:57 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

You could definitely get a Paddington Bear. Here’s mine. I think this must have been very early 80’s as I was too young to mix the plaster.
posted by Bigbrowncow at 3:36 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don’t know if this is a different technique, but I remember Shaker Makers as being similar.
posted by fabius at 5:14 AM on December 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

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