to make a pregnancy belly cast with plaster gauze bandages.
1 plastic drop cloth
1 jar petroleum jelly
1 pair gloves
3-4 rolls plaster casting material
(Use 4" x 5 yards)
You can get them at www.orthotape.com
You will also need:
Basin of room-temperature water
You may also want:
1 bottle gesso finishing material
Other craft supplies for decorating your cast
How it works:
A belly cast is created
by applying several layers of wet plaster strips to the front of your belly. After the strips have set, they will hold shape
the shape of your pregnant belly and the belly cast will come away from your body and you will have a permanent record
of your pregnant shape!
Typically, women cast the belly or the belly and breasts. Some choose to have their hands/arms included as they hold
or encircle the belly. This is entirely up to you --the supplies mentioned above is enough plaster casting material
(60 square feet!) to create a large plaster belly cast with multiple layers for strength.
Most women make their belly casts
late in pregnancy (36-39 weeks) to capture their bellies at maximum size, while some make a series of belly casts to track
their growth. When you do your belly cast is up to you!
Belly casting it at least a two-person job
and a three-person job if you want photographs! Some couples enjoy doing belly casting together as a shared and intimate celebration
of their baby, while some moms would like to share the fun with friends and other family members. If you have doulas or midwives,
they might be another option. . . it is certainly guaranteed that they will have an appreciation and reverence for your pregnant
These instructions are written for the expectant mom's helper(s).
Before starting, make
sure the expectant mom is comfortable, and not hungry or thirsty -- and that she won't need to visit the bathroom for
at least half an hour. (If that's possible!) If you want to take photographs of the belly casting process, have your camera
ready. Also, prepare an area where the belly cast can rest undisturbed as it finishes curing. (Usually 24-48 hours.)
You might want to
light some candles and turn on some relaxing music to set the mood.
Start by protecting your work area. You will probably want to lay down
a few layers of newspaper on the floor, upon which you will set a chair. The chair should be at a comfortable height for the
expectant mom. We suggest draping the plastic drop cloth over the chair.
You will need a shallow basin of room-temperature
water. This is how you will wet the plaster strips. Place it in a sturdy spot, near the expectant mom. Away from the water,
(and over a protected area because the strips will be powdery) open at least two of the rolls of plaster casting material.
With sharp scissors, cut the plaster roll into strips 12 to 18 inches in length. Set the cut strips into two piles based on
their length. Also, cut at least one square (three squares if you're doing a cast that will include your breasts) that
is approximately 2-3 inches square. These squares will be used for accentuating the belly button and nipples so your cast
will be finely detailed.
You need to decide what to cast, and then prepare the area that will be casted. Then you have to bare it! Bare skin
makes the best belly cast, although you can wear a bra above and underwear below the casting area if you desire.
Since the casting
material will go right against the skin and will set (much like glue), you want to ensure that small hairs are not trapped
in the plaster of the cast. Use petroleum jelly just for this so you can create a non-stick surface on your body. Simply spread
a layer of petroleum jelly all over the areas to be cast. We suggest applying it all in one direction so the hairs have less
of a chance of being caught. Don t worry the plaster will still adhere on top of the jelly. (Note: Latex gloves will fall
apart if you use them to spread the jelly. Instead, you might want to spread it with bare hands or a paper towel.)
Next, you will need
a piece of plastic wrap to protect the underwear or the pubic hair area. The expectant mom should position herself toward
the front edge of the chair -- close enough so she doesn't have anything touching the cast zone, but far enough back so
she can sit comfortably for 20-30 minutes. The expectant mom should sit up as straight as she can, and once you begin casting
her chest, she shouldn't look down.
A note about non-seated positions: It is possible to cast the belly while standing,
although this can become tedious for a full-term mom-to-be, especially with the added weight and heft of the cast. We've
heard many stories of women fainting while standing still for such an extended period of time. Aside from the obvious safety
issues, this can also damage the cast. If you have your heart set on standing, make sure to keep your knees soft and slightly
bent to minimize the risk of passing out.
Some women do their casts lying down, which is certainly appropriate if the expectant
mother is on bed rest. In general, however, a prone position will produce a cast that shows a smaller belly and breasts in
a less-flattering position -- not to mention the pressure on the vena cava if mom is on her back.
Creating the belly cast:
Whoever will be handling
the plaster casting materials should put on the gloves. Next, thoroughly (but quickly) wet single plaster strips one at a
time by running them through the water basin, and then place them across the area to be casted. As you approach the belly
button and nipples, place one of the small squares over each of these areas and carefully conforming them to the shape. You
will want to reinforce the cast with multiple layers, but take some care to avoid further layers around the belly button and
To give the cast maximum strength, create multiple overlapping layers, laying strips up and down, side to side and
diagonally across. Try to cover every area of the cast with a minimum of two layers of plaster casting material -- and more
Don t rush, but work quickly, smoothing the strips as you go along. Make sure the sides are also reinforced with
extra layers. The casting material will begin to dry in about eight minutes, but as you are applying additional layers, the
cast will need to stay in place until it "tells" you it s ready by getting warm, quite heavy, and eventually separating
from the body after 20-30 minutes.
When the cast is ready to be removed, handle it carefully. We suggest
gently stuffing it full of crumpled newspapers and setting it belly-up on a surface so it can air-dry for at least 48
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 belly casting
As soon as the belly cast is complete, you will want to take a shower! We recommend
first using a paper towel or napkin to wipe off as much of the petroleum jelly as possible. Then you can take a shower or
bath to get rid of the remaining plaster.
Once the cast has cured, you can smooth off any rough areas with the sanding screen
we have included. (Just rinse out the screen if it fills with plaster dust.) To seal and smooth the surface, apply a coat
of gesso with a brush (both included in this kit) and then let dry.
Your belly cast is now complete, and ready for you to display, store, or paint
and decorate as you wish! Be sure to write on the cast the date you made it and how pregnant you were at the time, and consider
writing a letter to your baby to paste inside.