Turn a footprint into a ghost in 13 steps


I love to make these ghosts keepsakes with my kids every year. I have tried to make these with my famous plaster footprint keepsake method, but the cornstarch dough makes a much nicer ghost. Ingredients you’ll need:

Note: If your feet are “cracking” you’re probably cooking your dough too long.

  • 1 cup Corn Starch
  • 1 pound (2 cups) baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon light colored vegetable Oil
  • bamboo skewer — or pencil will work
  • a cute foot
  • waxed paper
  • cookie sheet
  • Sherwin-Williams’ Drop Dead Varnish
  1. In medium saucepan stir corn starch and baking soda. Add water and oil all at once and stir until smooth.
  2. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture reaches the consistency of SLIGHTLY dry mashed potatoes. (Mixture will come to a boil, then start to thicken, first in lumps and then in a thick mass; it should hold its shape). If clay is overcooked, ghosts may crack.
  3. Turn out onto waxed paper, on top of cookie sheet, cover with damp cloth; cool.
  4. When cool enough to handle, dust surface with corn starch; knead until smooth and pliable. If not using immediately, store completely cooled clay in tightly closed plastic bag or container.
  5. Roll into a flat disc, about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick on the waxed paper. Carefully, have your child place his foot into the disc — not too hard — just right. You don’t want a hole where the footprint is supposed to be.
  6. Take a breath. Take a look. If it’s good, move on and make another one. You’ll want several finished ones — just in case they break, some to give Grandma, etc. If it’s no good, roll out the dough again, and keep trying.
  7. Once you have your finished footprint, carefully, use a butter knife to cleanly cut away the edges. You want nothing but the footprint.
  8. At this point, it’s safe to make your eyes and mouth holes with a bamboo skewer. The kids LOVE to do this for you. (See step 6 above; you’ll want extras.) It’s OK to make a hole all the way through this time.
  9. Move cookie sheet to a high place — safe from the children — to dry for a couple of days. I do not recommend drying the ghosts in the oven.
  10. To protect your finished piece, use Sherwin Williams, Dead Flat Varnish. (I kid you not, that’s the name.) My helpful clerk, Zachery at my local Sherwin Williams store sold me this great product. It’s FLAT — no sheen whatsoever.
  11. Your finished ghost is a porous surface. So, according to the instructions on the label, mix the varnish with 10 percent water, and work the varnish on in light layers, completely drying between coats. Avoid getting the ghost too wet — as you’ll have crumbs instead of ghosts.
  12. Label the backs of your ghosts with the year and child. You’ll forget who’s who next year without these.
  13. Store un-shaped Play Clay in an airtight container OR heavy plastic bag in a cool place up to 2 weeks. Knead stored clay until smooth before using.


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59 comments on “Turn a footprint into a ghost in 13 steps
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