Rockabelly Lifecasts has been designing and selling DIY casting kits for our mail order clients for many years now. We have fairly strong opinions on which types of casting are really suitable for beginners and which ones are not. Sometimes those types of body casting that in, our professional opinion, are better left to professionals and can even be potentially dangerous to do without the right kind of knowledge and experience. Other types, such as hand or foot casting kits can have a very high 'disappointment rate' for beginners attempting it at home due to simple things like air bubbles getting into the mould as you pour your plaster or not being able to control the pose of the baby. The quality of instructions that come with kits available on the market varies hugely, as do the quality of materials included in such kits, with no central governing body keeping an eye on standards.
A very many of our clients have come to us for baby hand or feet casts or family group casts just desperate to get it done properly after having previously tried and failed (often multiple times) with cheap kits they bought on the internet or in stores or were given as well-meaning gifts. The true art of casting is not simply in being able to take a good mould from the subject/model but also in setting up the pose well, knowing the art of pouring the casting material correctly, and how to deal with any problems that occur ('perfect' casts straight out of the mould are incredibly rare and most will need varying degrees of hand-sculpting to finish them to a professional standard. You cannot easily teach these re-sculpting techniques in a kit form).
Many kit instructions do not state accurate drying times for long-lasting casts or provide the best advice in terms of decoration or display which can lead to the cast moulding and rotting away after as little time as 18 months. Some of these, where moisture has been trapped inside the cast and gradually rises to the surface may develop 'Black Mould', a known carcinogen. For the relatively small difference in price between even an up-market DIY kit and a professional baby casting session which will guarantee you excellent results, it really is an easy choice for a personal piece of sculpture that is so unique and precious and going to be cherished for a lifetime, possibly generations to come. We believe the same is true even when working with adult hand casting kits due to similar problems with air bubbles/missing fingertips.
We do encourage experimentation and fun with our own kits for other body parts or other good quality kits from some reputable lifecasting companies who specialise in this area with many years of experience and really understand the health and safety precautions as well as the finer nuances of the craft itself. But for some body parts we truly believe it is worth splashing out that extra little bit on a professional rather than risking disappointment and wasted time and money. We know that not everyone agrees with us, but having been selling our kits since 2001 we have had only three kits returned to date in all those years, and not one of those for reasons of cast 'failure' or because of anything negative about the kit itself. Very few other companies can make the same claim. We do not sell 'kit refills', because our kits are designed to work first time to our customer's satisfaction, and not require you to spend out yet more money 'to get it right', thinking that any problems were your fault rather than with the design of a kit. Put simply, owning a pair of scissors would not make you a hairdresser - and similarly, buying casting materials will not instantly make you a lifecaster. However, that doesn't mean you can't have a go at this wonderful art form, or learn new skills with practise, of course. But it definitely is worth looking into your options before you part with your money to make sure you have a great chance of success or if you'd be better off/safer hiring a professional or even investing in a couple of days of training so you can really accelerate your learning and cast safely with confidence.
We only sell kits that we believe our customers have every chance of success with, and we offer personal advice by phone and email to any kit customer who is unsure or has issues or questions. However this offer of one-to-one extra help is very rarely taken up by our clients because our instructions are so thorough and detailed. We are not interested in peddling the kind of kits that have a high failure rate by nature of the complexity involved because at Rockabelly Lifecasts we only want happy, satisfied customers who enjoy and get success from the casting process either via a private appointment or via our kits. For this reason you will not see any baby hand or foot casting kits, or indeed adult hand casting or family group casting kits in our web shop, nor will we personally recommend any on the market. We are happy, however, to advise you on our other kinds of kits you can have great fun with regardless of your level of artistic experience and get great results from with no risk of wasting your hard-earned money. If we think one of our kits will be unsuitable for your required task we will always be completely honest. In terms of baby casting, for example, for just the cost of a family meal out or a modest pair of shoes (often soon forgotten) you can have something truly lasting, memorable and beautifully hand-made especially for your family that grows in emotional value year upon year. We think that's worth every penny. And our customers do too.
If you've had mixed results with a kit you've bought elsewhere and don't know how to salvage things, do feel free to get in touch, perhaps including a photo or two of your home made casts and we will advise you in the best way to fix any damage and be happy to quote for carrying out repairs, replacements or material upgrades. We all love a bargain, but don't compromise on the quality of purchases that could become your most precious, prized and priceless possessions.