Making Plaster in the Field

Just think about this – you are out on the plains of Central Montana working on a dinosaur “discovery” and it’s time to make a field jacket for it so it doesn’t get disturbed. A little precious water (no running water here!) is mixed with powdered plaster of paris and you’ve got the stuff to make the jacket.

We were west of Choteau, MT with Two Medicine Dinosaur Center and these kids were having so much fun mixing the plaster for the field jacket. I don’t think anyone thought ahead to how they were going to clean up.

After the plaster is mixed paper towels are soaked in it, then very carefully spread out over the fossil you are field jacketing.

Small paintbrushes are used to smooth out the wrinkles and make sure there are no bubbles. You want the plaster to be form fitted to the fossil.

After paper towels, the next step was burlap, carefully applied just like the paper towels.

Here’s a favorite photo showing just how one of our participants looked after mixing the plaster goop. Her hands look perfectly “jacketed”.

It was hot the day we were in the field with Two Medicine Dinosaur Center staff and I bet the plaster on the fossil dried quickly.

We all learned so much on this dinosaur dig and the hands on approach kept the kids fascinated.

These kids had a glimpse in to the life of a paleontologist and they learned a lot about fossils and how our area was formed geologically. A great day – a fun day!

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