Workshop Wednesday: Setting Your Hand Print In Stone

2 February 2011

Finished and driedI was dying to see how this craft worked when I first came across the suggestion. The recipe mixes in traditional salt dough with coffee grounds to create an effect like rough hewn rock.

The imminent birthday of a close family member provided a good opportunity. I decided to use the technique to make a 'fossil' out of my son's hand print. It looks like it has been cast directly into the rock itself.

One thing I liked about this project in particular is that it provided a good way to recycle the old coffee left over in the pot, and the coffee grounds.

ingredientsThis is what you need for this project:

  • coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup of cold coffee
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • Wax paper

Now one recipe I found called for a half a cup of coffee grounds. But I didn't quite have that much, and used a quarter of a cup. Even with that, it still came out quite dark so I don't think you need to use as much as half a cup.

I found that I needed to use a little bit more than a half a cup of cold coffee. Luckily I had a whole cup left over, so had a little more to play with.

Mixing it upFirst, put the flour, coffee, salt, and cold coffee into a mixing bowl. Mix it all really well. You might find you need to give it a lot of stirring to get the coffee properly mixed in. The next time I do this, I think I will mix up the dry ingredients first and then tip in the cold coffee.

Second, knead the dough into shape on the wax paper. I used greaseproof paper for this - I assume it is the same sort of thing. We shaped it into a roughly round shape for the hand print by hand, but you could cut it into a shape with a butter knife or use a cookie cutter.

Hand printThird, make your impressions in the dough. My son pressed his hand down into the dough. As it was quite stiff, I needed to help him out a little bit by pushing down on his hand - gently but firmly.

It will take about two days to air dry and harden. But you can help it along a bit by popping it in the oven for short periods.

We didn't do it with this rock hewn hand print, as it was quite large. But if you make smaller models (we're planning on using this to help make our dinosaur fossils) you could put a hole in the top using a skewer or something similar. Then thread a ribbon through and you can hang it up.

My son particularly liked this project. He really enjoyed being able to get his hands stuck in to the mixture and mixing it all up. The project also covers maths, chemistry and a little bit of exercise for their motor skills. As it followed a recipe, he had to measure out the ingredients first. Next, there was the way the dry ingredients mixed together, changing the shape and texture of the flour. Then the cold coffee added enough moisture to change the mix to dough.Finished product

What do you think?

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