Pregnancy belly casting is a fun and easy way to create a beautiful memento of your pregnancy.
Now it's possible to buy kits with all the supplies, but when I was pregnant with my first son, pregnancy these kits weren't readily available, so we just bought a couple of rolls of Activa Rigid-Wrap Plaster Cloth, which is gauze impregnated with plaster.
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When belly casting kits started to become available in stores, they were quite pricey, and it was less expensive to buy the supplies separately (especially if you already had things like petroleum jelly and gloves on hand).
The cost of belly cast kits has come down a bit, and at this point, their prices are close to what it would cost to buy the supplies individually. Plus kits offer the bonus of convenience.
Keep in mind, pregnancy belly casting is a two person job, and the pregnant person must be very comfortable with the person who is applying the gauze.
1. Protect your floor with newspapers or a drop cloth
2. Make sure the expectant mom is comfortable and prepared to sit or stand still for about thirty minutes.
The expectant mom may sit or stand for this project; however, belly casting is typically done around weeks 36-38 of pregnancy, and standing for any length of time can be uncomfortable at this point in pregnancy.
Even though it was uncomfortable, I stood when we made my belly cast because it seemed to be the best way to get the shape I wanted.
If the mom plans on sitting, use a chair that will wipe clean easily and protect it with a drop cloth. This process is quite messy.
My belly cast bowl
Made from a cast of the belly only, a belly cast bowl is more subtle than a full torso cast, and it's less expensive to make because it doesn't require as much plaster impregnated gauze.
3. Decide what body parts you are going to cast.
Some people cast the belly only (we did a belly-only practice run, and it turned out to be a very nice bowl).
You may also cast the entire torso, and you may or may not decide to include hands on the mom's belly.
4. Cut strips of plaster in 12 to 18 inch long strips.
If you're planning to cast a detailed area, such as hands, cut some of the strips shorter and lengthwise so they are narrow and easier to place accurately to show smaller details.
5. Prepare and protect the expectant mom's skin.
The expectant mom should get in position for the cast (hands on belly if you are going to include hands).
Belly casting turns out best when done on bare skin (which is why the expectant mom needs to be very comfortable with the person who is making the cast).
Any area of the expectant mom's skin that will be cast must be covered in a generous layer of petroleum jelly.
6. Begin making the belly cast.
Dip the plaster gauze in water and then place it across the area to be casted.
Smooth the strips carefully to get a true shape and as much detail as possible.
Use narrow strips for detailed areas such as hands.
You will need to create several layers of gauze in order to ensure the cast is sturdy.
7. Ensure the shape is flattering.
If you are casting the mother's full torso, you can avoid a "droopy" breast look by ensuring the mom sits or stands with very good posture.
If you are not casting hands, the mom can put her arms up in the air (if this is comfortable for her) while the breasts are being cast to ensure the cast takes on a more flattering shape.
When placing gauze on the chest, start and the bottom and smooth upward so you're pulling everything up. Avoid starting from the top of the chest with the gauze and smoothing down if you are worried about ending up with a droopy look.
8. Wait for the cast to set.
It usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the cast to set.
The expectant mom will know when the cast is ready because it will be firm and start to separate fairly easily from her body.
9. Remove and clean the cast.
Once the cast is set, remove it carefully.
Use paper towels to gently wipe the petroleum jelly from the inside of the belly cast.
Fill the inside cavity of the belly cast with crumpled newspapers to support the weight of the cast and lay the cast belly side up.
Let it set for at least three days.
11. Smooth and finish the cast.
Trim any rough edges from the cast to form a pleasing final shape.
For a smoother look, lightly sand the belly cast with sandpaper, wipe it clean with a dry cloth and coat the cast with gesso (available at art and craft supply stores).
12. Decorate your belly cast.
Decorating your belly cast is up to you and only limited by your imagination.
I wanted a simple, subtle look, so I painted it just a couple of shades darker than the nursery, but you can add sequins, feathers, ribbons, family photos or any other decorative elements you like to your belly cast.
I simply set my belly cast on a clear shelf with a little blu-tack on the bottom to keep it from sliding.
If you'd like to add a ribbon to hang your belly cast, use a hand drill, or by hand, push a drill bit through the belly cast in the places where you want to attach the ribbon. Thread the ribbon through the holes, tie an attractive bow and hang your belly cast.
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