Belly casting usually is done in the eighth or ninth month of pregnancy to honor and preserve a woman's pregnant shape. While previously popular as a professional service, belly casting now has become a do-it-yourself home project. There are dozens of companies offering home casting kits, but the materials are also easy to locate individually. The process usually takes an hour and should be completed with a partner to avoid moving and cracking the plaster.
Plaster tape is commonly used by artists to create molds of body parts and other items. It looks like gauze coated in white, powdery plaster. This plaster is activated in water and dries to whatever surface its applied to in under 10 minutes. You'll need 20 to 30 yards, depending on the size of your belly. Mango butter or petroleum jelly are important for both protecting the skin and making the cast easier to remove. You'll need enough to liberally coat the entire are you'll be casting. Finally, you'll need a drop cloth, newspapers or old towels to protect your work area from dripping plaster. Embellishments such as paint or beads are optional.
Cover your work area for protection. Cut your plaster tape into strips that vary from 6 to 12 inches and lay them on your work surface. Fill a bowl or small bucket with warm water, and place it next to your strips. Light candles or play music for relaxation, if you'd like. Liberally coat the skin's surface with mango butter or petroleum jelly, including underwear or other items that will be worn during casting.
To create the cast, begin by having the pregnant woman find a comfortable position either standing and leaning against a wall for support or sitting at the edge of a chair. She'll need to keep this position for an hour. Next, dip a plaster strip into the warm water. Gently shake off excess water and apply it to the lubricated skin, smoothing it with your hands. Repeat this with the remaining strips until you have completely covered the area you'd like to cast. Use the remaining strips to make a second layer of plaster. Allow the completed cast to set for 10 to 15 minutes, and then gently pull it off from the sides, being careful not to crack it. The cast will reach its full strength after it has set for about three days.
Once you've removed your cast from the belly, it is complete, but many women choose to decorate it. If you'll be painting your cast, a layer of gesso helps prepare the surface. Decoupage, beading, feathers, stickers and stencils are all ways to embellish your casting. Once you've decorated it, a layer of shellac can preserve it. Some women chose to use their casts as photography props, home decor and even planters.
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