|In it's curing spot, before refining and reinforcing.|
Such a beautiful belly!
I'm not a complete newbie when it comes to the art of working with Plaster of Paris; I majored in sculpture at varsity so PoP did feature at some point! I just don't remember it being quite that messy... I digress.
The basic idea behind belly casting is that you put Plaster of Paris bandages all over mom's belly and whatever else she wants casted (breasts / thighs etc). Once the plaster sets it pops off and once it has cured you can reinforce, sand and paint it and hang it in your baby's nursery or anywhere you want to show off you beautiful belly! You'll need at least one person other than the mom, but having two people working seemed to work well for us. What we didn't take into account was trying to take pictures with plastery hands, so you'll need another helper if you want pics.
So here is how we did the belly casting:What you need before you start:
|From the left: Plastic wrap / Gloves / Vaseline / |
Baby Wipes for mom afterwards /
6 rolls of PoP bandage in 2 widths.
- A belly attached to a willing volunteer
- A drop sheet (we cut up some rubbish bags - it's messier than you think!)
- A chair (we used a sturdy coffee table so mom could lean back on one arm)
- Something to smear on said belly to prevent plaster from sticking and causing unwanted nipple waxing Petroleum Jelly is what we used.
- Plaster of Paris Rolls - We used 10cm wide by 4.6m long. 4-6 rolls should be enough. You can get different widths if you like.
- Plaster of Paris Powder - for smoothing and reinforcing
- Flat container with water - warm water sets quicker, cold water sets slower - we just stuck with room temperature! Warm water not recommended!
- Large sharp scissors - I used kitchen scissors
- Hole Puncher - For punching holes in the cast so you can hang it
- Plastic or Latex Gloves - Check for latex allergies Non-sterile is fine. You could use those gloves like the ones you get in hair dye kits, but I find them a bit clumsy for fine work.
- Plastic wrap if mom doesn't want her nipples to show or if she wants the cast to go over the pubic area. Alternatively you could get those handy disposable paper undies from the discount chemist.
- A bottle of red wine and some jazz on the go - And perhaps some smelly candles depending on the time of day.
|Mom's Throne =|
Sturdy Coffee Table
+ Cushion + Plastic
Try to make sure you really have everything ready before you start! Otherwise you will end up with white hand prints all over your kitchen. True story...
Before you start: Some considerations
- Decide how big / extensive you want the cast to be. Just belly? Belly and boobs? Belly, boobs and thighs? One shoulder? One or two or no hands on the belly? Just remember that you can't take the cast too far around the body - you want to be able to get out once it's set!
- Pick a position. Most of the time women choose sitting positions - if mom is at all prone to feeling faint or dizzy then standing is not recommended! Changing positions while casting is also not recommended. Make sure her spot is comfortable!
- Cut the rolls of plaster into 30cm lengths, with a couple of shorter ones for more detailed areas - especially if you are including a hand. Square pieces are great for nipples and belly buttons.
- Have a shallow bowl of water ready. Tap water should be fine. Cold water will cause the plaster to set slower, while warm water will speed setting.
- Lay your drop sheets down - and make sure there is space for your water tray quite close to the mom.
- Prepare a spot to put the cast to cure once you're done. We used a chair cushion with a stack of bunched newspaper to help maintain the shape while it cured.
|A spot for the cast to cure once you're done.|
What? It looks like you just rolled up some
newspaper and piled it up on a chair cushion!
Um, er, yeah, that's exactly what I did.
Ready to start?
My volunteers were Candace and her partner, Mat. I was going to be their doula at their upcoming birth so doing the belly cast was quite a good icebreaker in terms of being in each other's space.
|About to pop... Candace and the Cast!|
First you need a lubricant of some kind so that the plaster doesn't stick to the skin and give an unwanted nipple wax. If you're using latex gloves, don't put them on yet! The Vaseline will eat them up. I think you need something pretty sticky i.e. not olive oil. You are not trying to rub it into the skin, but make sure it forms a layer on the skin - like those chaps who do ice water swimming covered in a layer of Vaseline. I'd really like to find a natural alternative to petroleum jelly though, I just didn't have a chance this time. You could also wrap mom in some cling wrap, although you do lose detail that way.
Once the smearing is done the smearer can make sure his/her hands are wiped clean of the lubricant and put gloves on. I guess gloves are not absolutely necessary if you don't want to use them - the plaster will eventually come off your hands. But that's entirely up to you.
So being the good doula, I got Mat to smear the Vaseline all over the casting area and once Candace was sufficiently greased, we took one last sip of red wine and got working. You'll need to work quite quickly from here!
Take your strips of plaster bandage one by one, zip them through the water (i.e. don't soak them) and lay them down on mom's belly.
- As you lay the strips and smooth them you will see how the plaster fills in the gaps in the bandage.
- Use the square pieces for the nipples and belly button so you can get reasonably good detail. Again, Mat was happy to oblige. Try not to put too many layers over these areas to keep as much detail as possible.
- Lay the strips in different directions for greatest strength. and ensure everything is covered in at least two layers.
- Keep going until everything is well covered. Make sure to reinforce the edges and corners and try to make the edges even, but it's not a train smash if they aren't - you can sort that out later.
- At the end we smoothed the whole cast over with some plaster paste made with 2 parts PoP powder to 1 part water.
|From the other side|
- Mom will feel the cast get warm - Don't Panic! That is what the plaster does as it sets... She will start to feel it popping off as it hardens anyway so it should come off pretty easily after about 20-30 minutes after you lay the first strip.
24-48 hours later
|Top of the cast with rough edges|
|Trimmed with kitchen scissors and reinforced with plaster strips.|
|Hopefully you can see the reinforcing here! This is looking from the inside.|
It is reinforced all along the edge, in the crease of the bust and in the space between the breasts.