Many people are curious about the body casting process. Here’s how we do it.
Body casting (also known as life casting) is the process of creating a three dimensional copy of the human form, through the use of highly skilled molding and casting techniques. The outstanding feature of body casting is its high level of realism and detail. A cast can be made from any part of your body, from head to toe or in between, with or without clothing. Body casts capture detail as small as fingerprints, folds, dimples, and the lines that define life and one’s unique history. Creating your one-of-kind sculpture is not about having a perfect body. Similar to taking a photo and wanting a momento, body casting is differs in that in captures the physical presence and essence of a person at a point in time.
The Body Casting Process
Here are examples of a body casting (courtesy of product manufacturer BITY in Texas USA)
Where is the casting done?
Casting is messy – so its done in my studio in Brookvale, Sydney. I can come to clients who have special needs, but often the time and additional costs involved are not worthwhile.
What does the process involve?
For hands and feet, a pose is selected and we do a rehearsal positioning. The alginate is mixed to a luke-warm creamy goo—like yogurt. Hands or feet are slowly dipped into the container. Once the alginate is set your hand or foot is slowly eased out of the flexible rubbery mold. The alginate is not sticky; it is wet and a bit slimy when set. It is like very firm jelly. The process is quick and painless.
For faces, torsos, busts, bellies, bottoms, and other parts, the alginate is applied onto the body, smoothed into every contour, and then backed up with a plaster bandage to support the alginate. Often we work in pairs during these types of casting—as there is a lot of spreading and smoothing to be done in a very limited time frame.
The next stage is pouring the casting material, demoulding, hours of clean up and detailing, application of the finish, and then final presentation treatment.
Can my partner or friends watch?
Yes! The process is painless and is a fun event—by all means have your partner or friend share the occasion.
Some people like an audience when they have their casting
How long will the casting take?
Including arrival, discussing what you want, set up, and mixing the molding material, a casting can run between one and two hours depending on what is being cast. But the time for actually taking the mould is not very long. For example, a baby’s hand will only take from 30 to 90 seconds. Adult hands take a bit longer. Faces, torsos, and other body parts take up to 30 minutes.
Is it messy and what should I wear?
Old, washable clothing is recommended—just in case. The process can be messy if a baby twists or kicks. We provide towels, plastic, and a drop cloth to catch any spills. We have refined the process so that very little clean up is needed. Also, if you are getting a body part cast that is usually clothed, try not to wear tight fitting clothing before our visit so we will not have to wait for the marks or indentations to disappear. This could take up to an hour or more! Things to think about—ring and wrist watch indentations, sock lines, bra lines, underwear lines, waistband lines, and tight belt lines … Skin: Do not put makeup on if you are getting a face cast done. The makeup will transfer into the cast and then onto the finished piece.
Is the material used on my skin safe?
Absolutely. Yes. The material used is the safest top quality alginate, a compound made from seaweed. It is non-toxic, non-allergenic, and biodegradable. In fact, it is considered a food product. It is the same material used by dentists worldwide for making impressions of teeth. We can always offer a test patch for your peace of mind if you have extremely sensitive skin.
Can multiple hands and people be cast together?
Yes, hands can be lovely ways to represent multiple generations, or a group of young or older siblings or friends, families, etc. See our gallery for ideas.
Should I cut my fingernails or have a manicure?
The alginate material captures every detail of flesh, cuticle, and nail exactly. You will need to decide if you want these details captured.
Can rings be worn during the moulding process?
Yes, rings can be harmlessly worn and will easily clean up after the mould is made. The casting process will pick up the most beautiful details of your rings, making your sculpture even more personal. If very high, angular rings are to be included an alternate casting method may be necessary. Please advise when making your appointment if large jewelry is to be included in the casting. Please also remember that if you want a casting without a ring that you normally wear, you should remove it ahead of time so there will be no indentation on your finger.
Can we order several castings from the same mould?
Not from the same mould. For multiple castings, a special silicone mould would need to be created and that can be time consuming (and cost more), but we are able to create those. In fact, we specialise in mould making for product lines.
When we are using alginate as the molding medium, we need to tear away the alginate in chunks in order to release the poured casting, your casting is a one-of-a-kind irreplaceable piece of art.
Please let us know at the time of scheduling if you want additional copies of your lifecast. It will make a difference in the price and techniques we use. If you require 2 to 4 baby feet for example, it could actually more economical to make 4 individual unique casts than to make multiples from a single mould.
What materials can I choose from for my cast?
Pieces can be made in a variety of materials that include casting stone, cold cast bronze, brass, bronze, copper, silver, marble, resins, and foundry cast bronze, to name a few. Our most popular material is casting stone, a plaster/gypsum mix. These pieces can be left natural white and sealed, coated in faux metal finishes, antiqued, painted, or decorated with designs, if that is what you want. There are many options. Please ask.
Can you supply a base or stand or frame for my cast?
Yes. Our most popular bases are understated elegant black. These bases can be finished in any color. Other bases include various textural finishes, decorative shapes, stone, slate, marble, tile, etc.
Framing of baby hands and feet in shadow boxes can include a photo of your baby.
There are many options for mounting and displaying these precious parts.
Engraved nameplates can add a personalized finishing touch.
Resting hands, faces, and torsos can be wall mounted or freestanding. We can design frames, bases, and wall mounting to suit your request.
Please talk to us about what you want – we love coming up with new ideas!
When will my casting be ready?
Your casting made from casting stone will be ready in 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the time of the year, the type of finish you have selected, and the type of base or frame to be used. Proper drying time is very important. Other casting materials can take 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the kind of casting. When necessary we may be able to rush the completion. Please schedule as early as possible for special occasions such as Weddings, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Holidays. Up front we will discuss the delivery date and contact you when your casting is completed.
Caring for your sculpture
As a unique work of art. It will like break or crack if dropped heavily. Do not use any cleaning liquids or water. Dust carefully with a cloth. Keep your sculpture away from extreme heat or cold and away from damp areas.
We do specialty castings
Pre- and post-surgery, document a weight loss, terminal illness, awards, celebrity, bodybuilding, if you can imagine it, we probably can cast it.
It’s art Shaza!
Body casting is an art form, and each piece is unique; it is not a manufacturing process. Each piece is made and finished by hand. A great deal of care is taken to ensure that our body casts are fine crafted works of art.