How to Make a Belly Cast

Supplies for Making a Belly Cast

Making a Belly Cast with Plaster
Photo © Westend61/Getty Images

 A belly cast is a great way to memorialize your pregnant belly.  It serves as a physical remind of your belly. I have to laugh because even when I have it around and I'm trying to remember just how big my belly was, the belly cast is always different than my memory.  

When you're finished with the cast, you can simply store it, or you can make something neat. Some families like to paint it.  Others turn it in to a cocoon for a birth announcement photo.  You can even hang it on the wall.

To get going, you'll need a few supplies.  This includes:

  • A large bowl you don't mind getting messy
  • Clear plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Petroleum jelly or similar for your belly
  • Plaster casting strips
  • Water
  • Towels and/or drop cloth

While technically you could do this alone, I'd highly recommend that you have help in completing it.  It can be a messy process, even with help.

Cutting Strips for a Belly Cast

How to Make a Belly Cast
Photo © REW

One of the first things that you can do to get ready, after you gather your supplies, is to cut the plaster strips. We used three packages of plaster rolls, you may use more or less depending on the size of your belly, whether or not you are having twins, and how much of your body you intend to cast.

Cut various sizes of strips and put them in piles.  We did piles of about 10 inches, 6 inches, and 4 inches.  We also wound up cutting a few even a bit smaller to get some nooks and crannies covered.

Preparing the Belly Before a Belly Cast

Lubricating the Belly Before a Belly Cast
Photo © REW

To prepare for the belly cast, you'll want to have a bunch of towels or a drop cloth on the ground.  This will be a bit messy as you actually make the cast.  This prevents you from trying to clean up dried plaster on the floor. 

Wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. This goes for you and your helper. In fact, depending on the amount of your body that you intend to cast, you may actually want to be shirtless or completely naked.

You will want to use the petroleum or other lubricant before the strips of plaster are applied to your belly.  Apply a thick coating wherever you intend to put the plaster strips.  This can also include the breasts or however far up or down you intend to use the plaster strips. This also helps the cast peel away easily from your skin after it is dry.  You will want to use the plastic wrap to cover any area of hair, like pubic hair. Getting plaster in these areas is not fun.

Placing the First Belly Cast Strips

First Strips of a Belly Cast
Photo © REW

Fill your bowl with warm water and place it where you can easily reach it. You will have your helper hold each end of the plaster strip and pull it through the water to wet the entire length of the strip.  You will then place it on your belly.

The first strips you place on the belly cast serve as a foundation. This is typically larger or longer strips. They should overlap partially. As you lay the plaster strips down, you may notice that they can easily wrinkle.  Take a bit of water from the bowl and use that to smooth any wrinkles. You can also pick up a strip quickly and place it back down if you get a wrinkle.

Cover the Belly with Plaster Strips

Cover the Belly in Plaster Strips for the Belly Cast
Photo © REW

Continue to layer the strips, using appropriate sizes as needed to cover the entire area.  You will want to go over some areas more than once.  This will make the final product firmer.

As the subject of the belly cast, you will feel the warmth of the plaster and you will feel it as it begins to harden and dry, even as more strips are being added.  It is best to stay as still as possible when doing a belly cast. This can be really hard, even though the casting process usually only takes about 10-15 minutes.  Be sure not to lock your knees and lean back on something if you need to in order to stay comfortable.

If your belly button is an innie and you want to capture that, be sure to poke the plaster strips inward!  (Be sure you've put the lubricant in there too!)

Belly Casting the Upper Body and Breasts

Belly Casting the Upper Body and Breasts
Photo © REW

If you intend to do plaster casts of the upper body or breasts, you will potentially need more plaster strips.  Some families want to do poses, like the arms around the belly.  You can easily do that by simply placing your arms around the belly and placing the strips of plaster over your arms and attaching them to the strips on your belly. I would recommend that you cover your belly in plaster first, then add the detail of the arms.

In doing your breasts, it is good to do underneath the breasts and over them.  This ensures a strong cast when you are done. This is true even with large breasts that touch the belly. You will want to have smaller strips for the nipple area to help show detail, if you want that level of detail.  You will also want to go around the sides of the body and potentially up near the arm pits.  

Finishing Your Belly Cast

Completed Belly Cast
Photo © REW

When you are done with the casting, simply slip it off.  You can immediately take a shower to wash any residual plaster and jelly off your body.  This may take awhile, but it will come off.  (On a side note, I didn't have any itching for days!)

Your assistant should look at the cast from the inside to identify any weaker spots and reinforce those from the top, since the bottom is already dry. This won't alter the look of the cast, but will make it stronger.

You will want to give your creation time to dry.  You will want to store it someplace warm and dry, belly side up.  If you try to store it belly side down, it may alter the shape of your belly cast.

Once it is dry, you can set it by using something like Gesso or you can paint it and then seal it.

This can make a neat activity for a Blessing Way

Other ways to commemorate your belly include belly painting, henna tattoo, or regular pregnancy photos.

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