Belly Casting
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Preparation, Creation and Decoration

Belly masking (or casting) is a wonderful art form celebrating the amazing transformation of a woman's body during pregnancy. It is usually done two to three weeks before a woman's due date, but can also be used to capture the changes during pregnancy as well. It is a remarkably simple and inexpensive project, although it's just a little messy! Find out more about this pregnancy art rapidly gaining in popularity.

Why a Belly Cast?

A photo captures your body's changes two dimensionally, but a belly cast adds the dramatic third dimension of depth. Although this is a little known way to capture your pregnant body's dimensions it is also an incredibly wonderful art form. Even if you are uncertain about doing this kind of birth art, do it anyway. As time goes by, and your love for your baby grows, this memento will mean even more to you.

Preparation

What You Will Need

bulletOne Belly Cast Kit for basic breast and belly or the Belly Cast Plus Kit to include upper arms, shoulders and upper 1/3 of thighs. You can order these kits through www.maternalsource.com by calling toll free 1-866 TO BIRTH.
bulletA cake pan or bucket of hot water, to dip the strips of plaster bandages in.

Optional

bulletArt supplies to decorate body cast: Plaster of Paris or Gesso if you want to smooth the original rough gauze surface and to enhance features such as nipples or belly button, as well as strengthen the cast. Acrylic paints, etc. (see Finishing Touches for more ideas). (Gesso is a white, durable paint-like mixture of plaster used to prepare and smooth the surface of a sculpture before painting)
bulletWire mesh "sandpaper" to get a really smooth plaster surface.
bulletShellac, lacquer or glaze to seal and preserve your creation.

Sculptor

bulletPut on old clothes or use an apron and roll up your sleeves. Take off any jewellery.
bulletCover the floor with the drop cloth. Make sure the room is warm but well ventilated.
bulletAssemble supplies and fill the pan or bucket with warm water.
bulletCut the plaster bandages into strips approximately 6, 10 and 14 inches long.
bulletGenerously apply lubrication to the mother's breasts, belly (neck/arms/thighs), going no more than half way around her sides and just above the pubic hair. If necessary, use cotton padding to cover armpit, belly or pubic hair. (If you don't use enough lubrication, remind the mother to use one of her pain techniques as her hair is being pulled out when the cast comes off!) :o)

Mother

bulletChoose Your Pose.
bulletStanding or sitting on the edge of a seat, will result in a more round, more full-bodied sculpture. Experiment with various poses: lean forward, to one side or back, or against the wall-find the shape/pose you want to preserve. Assume a position in which you can remain fairly still for about 20 minutes. Don't lie down!! This position produces a flattened breast-belly sculpture.

Creation

bulletGlide one plaster strip at a time through the water for a few seconds. Never let go of the strip, keeping it taut, open and flat, (don't let it fold or twist).
bulletAs you pull them up from the water, gently squeeze out the excess water by running your index and middle fingers down the strip.
bulletApply the strip to the mother's body. Smoothing and over lapping the strips in various directions strengthens the body cast.
bulletWork Quickly because the plaster begins to set (dry), and the cast begins to separate from her body about 10 to 15 minutes after you begin.
bulletWhen you are finished applying the strips, allow the cast to dry for about five minutes, then remove. Have her help by moving and wiggling loosen the cast as you ease it off at the edges.

Decoration

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The body cast will need about 24-48 hours to dry completely before you begin decorating it. It may mold if you decide to decorate it before it is done drying.

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Before painting or decorating, smooth the surfaces of the cast by applying a thin coat made from a pasty mixture of plaster of Paris or paint it with gesso. For a very smooth finish, sand with the wire mesh.

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There is no end to the possibilities: paint, collage with your baby's photos or magazine cut-outs, tissue paper designs, dried flowers, beads, feathers, or written messages.

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After your baby is born, you can add footprints (right where he/she used to kick you under the ribs) on the sculpture with ink or paint, or make an impression of the footprint in wet plaster on the cast.

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Finally, spray or paint with the shellac, lacquer or glaze to finish. If you are doing this yourself, do so only in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

Be creative and most of all have fun!

For more information or ideas

Birthing From Within by England and Horowitz

The Natural Pregnancy Book by Romm

 

Copyright 1997-2007 Mother Care. All photos Mother Care & Terri McKinney Photography. All rights reserved.