Cast Gingerbread People for Christmas Wreaths

Introduction: Cast Gingerbread People for Christmas Wreaths

Homemade outdoor wreaths using store bought materials can be even grander when custom ornaments are added. Sculpt, cast, paint, and adorn your wreath with these cute gingerbread people. The casting involved here is more advanced than our previous Instructables; using latex molds backed by plaster of paris. But the mold and casting materials we used are very affordable, and you can pop out a dozen castings in a short time.

Materials - Gingerbread People
  • Modeling clay - sculpt originals
  • Scrap plywood, cardboard strips - for casting
  • Liquid latex - for mold making - Tap Premium Liquid Latex
  • Plaster of Paris - backing for mold
  • Casting material - Durham Water Putty - inexpensive and available at most hardware stores
  • Wood blocks, wire, Gorilla Glue - for attaching to wreaths
  • Drylok Extreme Masonary Waterproofer paint without sand
  • Acrylic paints
  • Shellac
Materials - Wreath
  • Garland - craft store green pine garland
  • Lights - light strings built in garland or added
  • Plastic ornaments

Step 1: Sculpt and Create Mold

First model your gingerbread people on a scrap of plywood in clay. We made a boy and a girl with fine details - since they will be on a wreath around the front door.

Two reasons why we chose latex molds for this project were the undercuts on the mold, and the casting material (Durham Rock Putty) that sticks to straight plaster molds even if common mold releases are used. Undercuts are the bane of rigid moldmaking. The gumdrop buttons and piping along neck, wrists, and ankles all would lock a rigid mold to the cast material. Latex molds flexibility is good for undercuts but won't keep it's shape for filling, so we used a plaster cast behind for rigidity.

Hot glue strips of cardboard around the finished clay masters to create a box around each figure. This contains the latex but mainly is for the plaster backing pour. It just needs to be tacked in place, the first coat of latex seals it in place, but make sure it is tight against the plywood.

Follow the instructions for the liquid latex to lay down multiple layers. Be sure to push the first layer underneath all of the undercuts with your brush and pop any bubbles formed against the clay master. They recommend 8-16 layers with some drying between. We didn't put in any strengthening cloth but you can if you have something that might tear or you are producing hundreds of items. We ended up laying down 10 layers and used up half of a $20 container - so $5 per gingerbread person was great though a bit time consuming vs. 2-part one-step $$$ molding systems.

When the latex has dried. Fill the cardboard dam with plaster of paris. Strip off the cardboard then the plaster and latex should unmold nicely.

Step 2: Produce Gingerpeople

Mix up Durham Rock Putty to a thick pancake batter consistency so it will fill in all tiny details. Work the liquid-y putty into all of the nooks and crannies. As the putty starts to hardens you can still keep using it to fill the mold, but do not fill it level,a 1/4" to 3/8" thick layer is better - it will dry faster and not crack due to being so thick. There are 5 boys and 5 girls on the wreath and they take about 1 hour to dry each. The putty dries waterproof for outdoor use.

Step 3: Paint and Wire to Wreath

Paint each figure with Drylok Extreme Masonary Waterproofer paint as an undercoat. Paint with standard craft store acrylic paints then seal with clear shellac.

Glue a small block of wood with a wire hole to the back of each gingerperson using Gorilla Glue then attach to the wreath using craft wire.

We embellished the store bought garland with lights and plastic round ornaments. You can do a drape garland or a rigid backed wreath. Come up with your own theme-based custom ornaments and put them on trees, wreaths, and garlands - indoors or out!

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