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.
What You Will Need
|One 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.|
|A cake pan or bucket of hot water, to dip the strips of plaster bandages
|Art 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)|
|Wire mesh "sandpaper" to get a really smooth plaster surface.|
|Shellac, lacquer or glaze to seal and preserve your creation.|
|Put on old clothes or use an apron and roll up your sleeves. Take off any
|Cover the floor with the drop cloth. Make sure the room is warm but well
|Assemble supplies and fill the pan or bucket with warm water.|
|Cut the plaster bandages into strips approximately 6, 10 and 14 inches
|Generously 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)|
|Choose Your Pose.|
|Standing 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.|
|Glide 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).|
|As you pull them up from the water, gently squeeze out the excess water by
running your index and middle fingers down the strip.|
|Apply the strip to the mother's body. Smoothing and over lapping the
strips in various directions strengthens the body cast.|
|Work 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.|
|When 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.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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