Want to commemorate your pregnancy? Get a belly cast
After seven-and-a-half months of pregnancy, I got totally plastered the other day. No, it didn’t involve happy hour. Instead, I got plastered during a belly-casting session to create a sculpture of my very-pregnant torso.
It is part of a growing trend among moms-to-be to find new and more creative ways to honour and celebrate the experience — from belly painting and belly blessings to henna and photography.
Dana Thomson is the founder of Mummies’ Tummies. She came to my house to do the belly casting. She started the business 14 years ago and since has done more than 700 belly busts. “I had a girlfriend who had seen belly casting done in the States, and she asked if she thought I could try it,” Thomson says. “I did and I really thought that people might enjoy this kind of art relating to babies.”
In my kitchen, in front of my daughter and, um, nanny (I’m pretty sure seeing me naked waist up isn’t in her job description, but she really loved watching the process, as did my daughter) I stripped off my shirt and bra.
All Thomson needs is to be near a sink with a bowl of warm water. She puts down a drop cloth, which I stand on, and the belly casting begins by me rubbing on a thin layer of Vaseline over my chest and torso. Then with dozens of pieces of plaster gauze, which she dips into warm water, she covers my belly and chest.
“At first, I targeted the midwifery clinics with women who were not only tuned in with their bodies, but didn’t worry what they looked like or their weight gain,” she says. “This is a very empowering time. Women who do this appreciate their curves.”
Some are extremely comfortable with their pregnant form. Thomson is often invited to baby showers where other women will help with the plastering. “I was once in a room during a baby shower with 50 women who were helping create the belly cast.”
But not every one understands belly casting, though interestingly many men or husbands do. “I get a lot of calls from men who want to set up belly casting sessions for their wives,” says Thomson. In fact, one proud papa even brought the finished belly casting to keep in his work office and hung it on the wall. (Strange, but true.)
“He was proud of his wife and what his wife had gone through.” But most people, according to Thomson, keep the belly casting in their bedroom or the nursery.
One thing is for certain, it’s definitely a conversation starter. “I have also done women who have had three children, and I’ll do a belly casting for each of their pregnancies. They don’t want to leave a child out.”
Thomson has the type of personality that can make anyone feel comfortable. During my plastering, we talk about work, children, family and moving. The entire process takes less than an hour, and she always goes to people’s houses. “It’s much more comfortable for people in their own spaces. A lot of the time, the dads will be around, and they’ll be taking pictures of the process or videotaping it.”
The plaster gauze dries quickly, and she pulls it off my torso and breasts. Then Thomson takes it home to put another layer of liquid plaster over the casting, to make it as smooth as possible.
After the cast is complete, customers choose how to decorate it. Usually, Thomson keeps it simple, as to not take away from the finished product. “I usually stick to painting the date of the baby’s birth, the name of the baby, or sometimes, over the belly button area, I’ll put on their birthstone, which is a really nice touch,” she says.
Prices start at $150, but Thomson also can get more detailed: plastering the mother’s arms around her stomach or the father’s arms around the mother’s torso.
While celebrities posing with their pregnant bellies on magazine covers is old, Thomson’s business is booming. “There’s definitely more awareness of what it is now. Even men know what it is when I tell them what I do,” she says. “Ideally, a cast should be made four to six weeks before the due date, but I always tell women to do it when they are comfortable with their size. I had one women who I did at five months, but her bump was pretty large because she was so petite.”
Thomson has also started to do moulds of a new baby’s bum, which is difficult, to say the least. “Often the baby keeps peeing, and I’ll have to do the casting three or four times,” she says. “But it makes for a really cute doorstopper, paperweight or candy bowl.”
I love my belly casting. In fact, I’d rather look at it than myself in the mirror, which Thomson says is something she hears a lot. Now I just have to figure out where to put the thing.
Maybe I’ll turn it into one mother of a candy bowl.
Mummies’ Tummies, 416-405-8362