This is a casting kit that includes mold, plaster, and directions to cast your own scale model of the mysterious resting place of the Ten Commandments. It includes five molds to create a three-dimensional Ark of the Covenant. Also included are suggestions to enhance the teaching value as you make this item with your children.
When I received this product to review, I thought it would be fun to review something different than a book and that since it was recommended for ages 6 and up I certainly would be able to handle it. I eagerly got out the directions to see what my 11-year-old son and I needed to do. The picture on the cover sure looks great with the finished model all painted up in gold. We took a disposable plastic glass and mixed up some of the powdered plaster with water in the ratio instructed. It was almost as thin as water, but that made it easy to pour. We poured into all the molds and set the molds aside to dry.
The next day we went back to empty the molds. The plaster felt dry, so I proceeded to try to pry it out of the thick plastic molds. The cherubim halves came out okay. I managed to get the lid out with only a little of the top decoration falling off--not enough to deter me from using it, however. The base cracked in half. The side cracked in half. The end crumbled. I glued the side and base parts back together, thinking I would have them if the second try didn't work any better. In the process, I decided that I hadn't let them dry long enough. So I mixed up more plaster and water, this time using only enough water for it to be a pouring consistency. I poured a new bottom, a new side, a new end, and another set of cherubim halves. This time I didn't do more than just look at them for three days. They did come out much better this time, with all pieces intact. At this point, however, I still needed another end at the very least and preferably another side as well. However, there wasn't that much plaster left. So I mixed up what I had and it managed to fill the end mold with a little to spare, but not enough for another side. The end was then left to dry for the allotted three days and it popped out without much trouble and no injury.
Then it was time to put it together. I got out my all-purpose white glue and decided to start with gluing the bottom to the two sides. I couldn't do the ends at the same time because the ends had the legs on them, so they weren't at the same level. I also glued the halves of the cherubim together. The first set of halves hadn't dried as well as the second half, and somehow the wing on one side was a little bit "warped." Hence the wings don't come quite together as they should have. So I decided this angel had arthritis and decreased range of motion. I went to glue the second cherubim together and pressed a little too hard on the pieces. In the end the head broke off one side, half the wing off one side, and the tip of the other wing. It was hardly noticeable when glued back in place, though. The glue did its job, and after a day I turned the box over and added the ends. Well, I should have done ends and sides together first, it seems, because now I had the ends extending past the sides. I could have cut the glue and started over, but I had by this time decided I really liked reviewing books. Oh well, my box doesn't have perfectly squared corners. Who would notice? I glued my cherubim onto the lid and put the thin plastic sticks through the handle holes in the ends. Wa-la! It was now ready for my gold spray paint that I had purchased just for this. That went without problems and I now have a beautiful, if unique, model of the Ark.
I would like to have had more detailed instructions and tips regarding the molding process as I'm sure there are others who are no more craft savvy than I am. But, despite my difficulties, I do think this is a worthwhile project in that although the finished product was far from perfect, it is a reasonable replica to discuss what the Ark was and its place in the life of the Hebrews and in the temple. It would be good for family Bible study as well as Sunday school use.
Product review by Nancy Wagner, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July 2006