I want to mold it, harden it, sand it, gift it.
ok i'll do that
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Don't use plumbers putty use Shape Lock instead. Heat it up, mold it, let it cool, sand it and reshape it as needed, paint it and gift it. Or you can go to a craft store and get clay you can harden in the oven.
Bad choice for your project - Use Sculpty /Fimo
Simple ..... give it time !
You can use 2 part polymer clay. Which you have to mix to get a white clay. You can work with it for around 1/2 hour. It starts hardening after that. Don't forget to poke holes in your final piece (if you require them) as it will be harder to do that once the clay dries. No baking required. Just a sample of what can be done.
Plumber's putty is specifically designed to remain pliable for an extended period of time. It is mostly clay and linseed oil and a few other ingredients, including plasticizers. Furthermore, it shrinks, cracks and crumbles as it dries. I would say it is a totally inappropriate material for molding and sculpting. Use potter's clay, or one of the many synthetic products designed for molding.