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diy plaster shelf inspired by the urban outfitters isobel one but different


- a base piece of wood in your preferred size (mine is 100cm x 30 cm)

-wood pieces to create the shelving part: a frame around the whole base plus dividers for each little unit (i used 2 cm thick wood, ideally wood with some kind of coating to prevent from too much humidity soaking in)

-wood glue


-screws for wood & drill

-Plaster ( I used one I found at the hardware store sold as 'building plaster' it is normally used to close up walls after putting electric cables into the wall) I got two 5 kg bags of powder that you mix up with water to get a workable consistency

(its a few months since I build this shelf now and I would totally recommend to use coated wood like my base in the pic here, if you use MDF make sure to seal it to keep it from soaking up moisture ad swelling )


first build your frame glueing the wood panels on top of the base

(you'll screw them on from the back later. I just find it easier to glue everything in place first, et it dry and then flip it and screw them secure from the back)

plan your dividers to get a view for how the compartments will look

i went with a few small and two tall ones on each side, but you can do this as you like the look of it

glue the shelf pieces onto the base board and let everything dry.

i used quick drying wood glue and waited about 2 hours before i started screwing everything tight

Make it sturdy

once the glue is dry flip your shelf upright and start to secure the wood panels with screws, drilling from the back.

i would recommend to drill pilot holes to avoid splitting.

the more screws the more stable its gonna get. you don't need a hundred but its important to create a stable base since the plaster will be adding a lot of weight.

drill through the meeting shelving parts at the front and secure those as well

The Plaster Fun

once everything is constructed the fun part begins.

mix your plaster in small badges, its quite fast curing, mine was hard within 15 minutes, so don't mix up a whole bag at once. use a small bowl and start covering your shelf in a thin layer of plaster.

like you would paint it with textured paint.

it doesn't need to look arch-y or anything by now. just get the whole thing covered and rid of the wood showing through.

once the whole thing is covered i would suggest to let this dry over night.

cracks might form due to the wood working, but since were not done that's not something to worry about

the next day i mixed my plaster rather thick and started filling up the corners to form the arched tops of the little cubes.

the plaster should be kinda easy to squeeze and shape with your hands and disposable gloves.

just smudge it into the corners and roughly smooth it with your fingers

don't be scared to make a mess or of your surface doesn't look smooth. you can always fix that later on

once everything is shaped the way you like it let it dry.

ideally several days. the plaster will get totally white when dry.

singe i was a little bit in a rush i let it dry for 48 hours before i made the final 'smoothing' coat, but i would suggest to wait longer

to get rid of extreme bumps i mixed a rather thin batch of plaster and took a paint brush and brushed the watery plaster mixture over the whole thing, this way you close small holes etc

the final drying can take a good while, as you can see mine is while i took the pics still damp in some areas. it can take 1-2 weeks until everything is 100% dry. its like building a house - it takes a while. but I feel it worth it.

if cracks form: wait until completely dry and fill them with plaster. its important to let the base dry completely through before continuing, other wise you'll trap humidity inside.

you can sand it once dry if you want a super smooth look. i liked the natural texture. if you wanna avoid using lots of plaster you can fill the edges with paper mace or pu foam and cover that in plaster.


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