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Make a lasting impression this Mother's Day

Posted by Eric Splitt on











DIY Mother's Day Gift

How To Make It Step by Step

This thoughtful, hand made DIY project is the perfect gift idea for anyone with young children.  I actually made this for my wife for Valentine's day this year, but I wanted to share this because it would also be the perfect gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any special occasion where you want to give a personalized and unique gift to show how much you love them.

Here's what material is required.  Click the photos to purchase.

1.  Barn Wood -

2.  Rope -

3.  The Letters "L" and "E" - 



4.  Plaster - 

5.  Glue - 

6.  Homemade play dough -

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups Warm Water
  • 1.5 cups of Salt
7.  Spray Paint - any color of your choice
8.  Clear Coat Laquer


Tools Required

1.  Miter Saw or Hand Saw
2.  Nail gun or electric drill and screwdriver
3.  Caulking Gun
4.  Staple Gun
5.  Hot glue gun
6.  Sandpaper
7.  Super Glue (optional in case of plaster repair)


How To Make It

First, you need to decide how many you are going to make. I have three kids, so I needed to make three signs. Each sign will require three pieces of 24" barn wood. So order all your materials using the links provided above. While you are waiting for them to arrive, make your play dough.

I ended up doubling the recipe for the play dough because I had to make so many molds. Plus if you have extra, the kids can play with it.   

Make your kids impressions into the play dough.  Do this on a hard surface that you can transport.  You need to hide this project from Mommy while it dries, plus you don't want the kids messing with it.  Be sure that your impressions are deep enough into the play dough.  Too deep is better than too shallow.  I made this mistake on my first try, and they broke when I took them out. 

I found this video helpful when doing the molds:  












Once you have good impressions, mix up the plaster following the instructions on the bag.  Fill your molds full of plaster and let it dry completely.  I recommend 24-48 hours if you can.  I took my castings out too soon, and they broke.



While you wait for them to dry, you can make your boards. If using the wood I linked to above, then you will need to attach 2 pieces together. I used an extra board and cut it to length and placed 2 vertical boards on the back. You can glue, nail and/or screw them together.

Next, you can work on how you plan to hang these signs. I chose to attach all three together. I used 1 long piece of rustic rope to wrap around the back and in between each sign. This takes a bit of adjustment to figure out. So it's recommended to do this before you install your casts to avoid damaging them. I used hot glue and staples to hold the rope in place.

You can also prep the letters. I some glue and clamps to assemble 3 wood letter to make them thicker. Then I sanded and painted them. I used flat black spray paint first and then followed up with a white primer. Then I distressed them with the sandpaper to give them that rustic look.

After you remove your casts, they need to be cleaned up to look pretty. Sand around the edges and along the back. You want them to lay as flat as possible on the wood. Try to keep any detail like creases in the fingers and hands. You can even use a knife to gently trim out between some of the fingers and toes. It just adds to the detail.

Now it's time to paint your casts. Start by using a flat white or black primer. I found that the spray paint colors at the store were limited, but I was under a time crunch to get these done. Also, I thought that spray paint would hold up better than latex paint on top of the plaster.

Finish all your parts off with a matte clear coat to seal and protect them.

Once all your pieces are dry, you can assemble them onto the wood sign. I used a heavy duty construction adhesive to attach everything.

If you accidentally break a finger or toe off of the casting, you can easily superglue it back on.  You will need to do some paint touchup.  I found this out the hard way when I accidentally dropped my son's hand just before gluing it onto the board.  It shattered into several pieces but I was able to glue it all back together, and it has held up since.  Just be extra careful because you don't need that extra stress when giving a gift like this.

Another thing to consider is keeping the castings away from the children.  My sweet 4-year-old daughter thought it was so cool that I made a copy of her foot and she wanted to compare to see if it really matched.  Needless to say that she stepped on her foot and broke a few toes off.  So again I had to use the superglue to repair it.

Here's what each finished sign looked like.

My 6-Year-Old Son

My 4-Year-Old Daughter

My 1-Year-Old Daughter



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