Use in medicine
Plaster impregnated gauze bandages were widely used in the
past up into the 1970-1980s as an immobilization support for broken bones. A cloth bandage impregnated
with plaster of Paris is dipped into water and then wrapped around the broken limb thereby creating a firm-fitting yet easily
removed splint in the shape of a tube or cylinder. This type of application of plaster in the repair of
a broken limb is commonly known as an orthopedic cast. The plaster cast is slowing losing its ground in
the medical field, as mentioned before this method is being replaced by a fiberglass casting tape which is not only waterproof
but also creates a much lighter orthopedic cast in terms of weight. The tradition plaster of Paris cast
made of plaster bandages were often too heavy for the patient to carry. The plaster bandage cast is still
used in emergency rooms where a temporary cast may be applied. Plaster is used as a temporary cast since
the price of plaster is much lower than the cost of fiberglass casting tape.
Plaster bandages are also used in the fitting of prosthetic limbs. Often
a patients amputated limb is is encased in plaster of Paris gauze bandages and a cast is created yielding an impression for
the exact fitting of a prosthetic leg. This allow the prosthetic to fit more comfortably and uniformly
to the stub of the amputee providing a more natural fit.
Use in Art
gauze bandages have become widely used by the artist industry. Not only are artists using plaster bandages
in creating art forms such as body casting. But teachers are also using plaster gauze bandages in the classroom
in the making of plaster masks as an art project in schools.
Body casting is the art of encasing the body in plaster of Paris bandages and creating an outline of the human torso
or whatever the artist may want to cast. Thereby creating a 3 dimensional replica of a person body part,
whether it be the breasts or the feet.
Teachers use the plaster by applying the bandages directly to the students face. This creates
a mirror like impression of the students face. Face masks are then decorated to the desired color and design.
Chemical Composition of Plaster of Paris.
Plaster of Paris, or simply plaster, is a type of building
material based on calcium sulfate hemi-hydrate, nominally CaSO4·0.5H2O. It is created by heating gypsum to about 150
2CaSO4·4H2O → 2CaSO4·H2O
+ 3H2O (released as steam).
plaster is exothermic producing some heat.