Monday, December 17, 2007

Belly Casting

Someone recently emailed me asking for information on how to do a belly casting. Since I took the time to write it all out, I thought I should post it here too! The casting material is indeed the same that doctors use, and is available at medical supply stores, usually coming in rolls 4" wide by 5 yards. For just the belly usually three rolls will do, if they want to cast the breasts and/or arms and hands around the belly I'd go five to six rolls. Cut into strips of varying lengths...twelve to eighteen inches for the longest stretch across the belly, a bunch of six inch ones for smaller areas or for finishing, and a few three inch ones for the bellybutton and nipples if you want a detailed cast. Have these ready and set aside in their appropriate piles before starting. Plaster sticks to hair and will hurt when drying and pulling off! Pubic hair, underarm hair, and every tiny little hair on mamas skin... a lot of folks use petroleum jelly to coat the skin and plastic wrap across the longer hairs... I use olive oil based salves applied *thickly*. Be sure this is done before getting started. Cover the area she'll be in, as this gets does wash out of clothes (hand wash please before machine washing) and off the floor in warm water, but a few sheets are a good idea. Make sure mama has a comfortable chair and position...she'll be sitting there for an hour most likely. Time for sculpting can be half an hour or more, and time for setting can also be half an hour or more. It's also a good idea that she has a bathroom break before being seated too. Have a glass of water or a sugar free lollipop for mama available during the process too... make sure the room is warm enough but not too warm (the cast will warm as it begins to harden, be sure mama is aware that this will happen), have gentle music sure mama is relaxed. Some folks laying the cast like to wear latex or silicone gloves... I do not. I think bare hands provide a more soothing feel for both mama and the person laying the cast, and as I said, it washes off in warm water. ("get messy, get involved" is one of my mottos!) If mama and space is ready, get a shallow basin filled with warm water. Run the strips of plaster through the water... I recommend left to right if right handed, right to left if left handed... with both hands. This wets it and also keeps it straight (so it won't stick to itself) Start at the bottom of the belly and work your way up. Overlap strips, and be sure to have at least two layers all around...also including some up and down and diagonal strips to reinforce. The more layers the sturdier the cast...but it also gets heavier for mama and takes more drying time. Too many layers can also blur the details of belly button, nipples and hands if included. Be smoothing the strips as you go..sculpting the plaster. When approaching the belly button and nipples, place one of the small squares over each of these areas and carefully mold them to the shape. The cast will begin the drying process in about ten minutes, so it will begin doing so at the bottom where you started before you get to the top. After the last layer is applied, the cast will need to stay in place for another twenty to thirty minutes. You will be able to see it starting to separate from the body and mama will be able to tell you it's ready by how warm and heavy it's getting. When the cast is ready to be removed, handle it very carefully. It will need to air dry for at least forty-eight hours. It will be hard to the touch, but until it has cured, it can sag under its own weight if not adequately supported. After the cast is cured, you can smooth off any rough areas with a sanding screen or sandpaper, and leave plain or coat with a sealer called gesso (available at the hardware store) before you paint or decorate it :)

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