So because my daughter has decided to take her dear sweet time I actually had the awesome opportunity of casting my belly at 40 weeks and 1 day! They generally recommend you do the casting at least 2 weeks prior to your due date in case you deliver early, but obviously my child is in no apparent rush to get out.
My sister-in-law Val bought me this casting kit made by Pearhead. You can pick it up at Babies R Us for $19.99 or scrounge your local TJ Maxx, Ross or Marshalls and score it for the low price of $12.99 :) She always finds the good deals. I loved the kit and it made it super easy to do the belly cast so I would highly recommend going this route if its your first time. If you have done it before then just buy the plaster strips, vaseline and drop cloth separately. It will probably be super cheap.
Next, you need to find someone you don't mind being partially naked with :) So if your husband is up to the task ask him to help you. But if he isn't then call up your sister, your mom or anyone whom you feel comfortable with. I had my sister Heather do it for me and she did a FANTASTIC job. I mean its really not that difficult, but if you ask someone who doesn't have patience or is horrible with directions it could turn out to be a hideous mess.
Then you basically follow these simple steps:
1.) Disrobe to your waist. I would suggest wearing full butted underwear and nothing else so that your pants/socks/shoes don't get plaster on them.
2.) Apply Vaseline EVERYWHERE you plan on putting the plaster. Be generous and make sure you don't miss any spots. The plaster feels like pulling off duct tape on your hair if you don't cover yourself with Vaseline. My sister got a little overzealous on plastering my sides and hips (where I didn't put vaseline) and it was not fun pulling it off. Everywhere else it just slid right off so if you cover yourself well you will be fine.
3.) Cut the plaster strips into 3 different lengths. Short about 5 inches for your breasts, Medium about 7-9 inches for your upper belly and lower belly and long about 12+ inches for your mid belly where its largest.
4.) Whoever is applying the strips should wear plastic gloves because it gets messy. Then they dip the strips one at a time into a bowl of water and then apply to your body. Each area should have about 3 layers of strips to ensure a hard enough cast. You don't have to apply in a perfect manner. In fact overlapping and going different directions will just ensure better coverage and a stronger cast.
5.) Once you are done casting the belly wait about 5-10 minutes to ensure that all areas of the plaster have dried. The cast itself should start to pull away from your body as it dries. Then you simply pull it away and let it sit somewhere for at least 24 hours to fully cure.
At this point you are technically done. But there are several options to finishing the cast and hanging it as art if you choose to go this route.
1. First after the cast has dried for a day hold it up to the light and see if there are any weak spots in your plaster where light shines through. If there is apply a few plaster strips on the inner side of the cast to strengthen these weak spots.
2. Trim the edges so that they are clean and look finished.
3. Sand the cast lightly and then apply joint compound if you want a super smooth appearance. Then sand again after the compound dries. If you don't mind the rough appearance just skip to step 4.
4. The final step is applying a layer of art gesso so that it has that shiny finished appearance. You might apply 2+ coats as you do this step and feel free to lightly sand in between layers to ensure a smooth even coverage.
5. At this point you can leave the cast as is or paint it as you feel necessary. Many people put the name and date of birth of their baby and others do footprints and hand prints. It's really up to you :)
Here are some pictures of my experience with casting so you can get a better idea of what it looks like. Enjoy!
I plan on sanding and finishing mine. And maybe painting it similar to this one that I found on the internet. I did the shoulder strap as recommended on the box, but I like the look without it so I am going to trim it down to match the other one.
I love the simplicity of the decorating on this one and how they included her name, date of birth and weight/length. Super cute!