Frequently Asked Questions about Lifecasting
General Questions About Lifecasting
1) Do you come out to me or do I come to you?
We strongly recommend everyone comes to our studio if they can. The studio is perfectly set up for casting and we don't have to worry about making a mess of your floor. Come and make a mess on our floor instead. We live within four minutes walk or a very short taxi ride from a mainline station (less than an hour from London) and just off the M20 if coming by car. We can recommend local places to eat, stay over and visit if you would like to make a day or special weekend of your visit. If you cannot or will not travel and have the budget for a call out then it may sometimes be possible for us to come to you by special arrangement, although for safety reasons, we only work off site in pairs and have to charge quite a lot extra for time and petrol so this can prove cost-prohibitive to most people. We are also told frequently by our clients that being cast at the studio is an important part of experience, immersing yourself in the arty environment of a working artist's studio for an hour or two, seeing the many interesting samples and feeling inspired. So do come to us if you can.
2) Who will be carrying out the casting process?
CJ Munn, our female lifecaster carries out almost all the casting sessions for female clients. The usual exceptions to CJ casting are if a client is male, or you would prefer a male lifecaster, if CJ is ill and unable to do the casting (in which case you will be offered the chance to reschedule or to be cast by CJ's partner, André Masters, if he is available) or if the piece itself is so large and/or complex that it involves two lifecasters. Both lifecasters are award-winners in their field and several other areas of art/business and are rated very highly in independent customer testimonials and come with decades of experience. André has Enhanced DBS clearance for working with children through his work with the prestigious Benenden School and both CJ and André have undergone First Aid training; so you will always be in the best and safest of hands.
3) How is it done?
This depends on which body part is being cast. Small areas such as lips, nipples, baby hands and feet tend to be cast in a vessel using fast setting casting gel. Larger areas such as faces and torsos are usually two part moulds of casting gel against the skin surrounded by a supporting layer of plaster bandage. Casting time varies between a couple of minutes to an hour for most things depending what's being cast, but we usually suggest people keep two hours free for their appointments to allow for prep, cleanup and chatting time.
4) How should I care for/hang my sculpture?
When you collect your cast from us, you will be given a password for a special clients-only section of the website where we will remind you of all the care and hanging instructions you were given in your appointment. You can access that information here.
5) I wish to give a casting gift voucher to a friend/loved one, but I'm not sure which one to purchase.
No problem. As well as our popular Gift package vouchers we also offer vouchers with a monetary value on them. You simply choose the value of the casting you would like to give them, and they can put the voucher towards the casting of their choice - be it a couple hands casting, a child's casting, or even a bottom casting session! Or we can help you narrow down your choices with a bit of helpful guidance if you need it.
6) What are your terms of payment?
We usually ask for a 50 percent deposit to secure a booking which is non-refundable in most cases. This is to prevent people dropping out at the last minute without letting us know they can't come, thus depriving someone else of the appointment slot, and to cover the cost of materials/lost income in the event of cancellation. You usually pay the balance when you come to collect your finished cast, but some people prefer to pay in instalments up until the time of collection when any remaining balance is paid in full. The best way to pay is BACS (direct bank transfer) and we will supply you with details when you make your appointment. For people paying with gift vouchers, simply give us the code on your gift voucher at the time of booking and bring it along with you when you come for your casting session. For party bookings, we need to know the number of people who will be attending, and the deposit would be 75 percent of the casting costs. If you wish to pay by credit/debit card then purchasing one of our gift vouchers is the simplest way although payments made via Paypal may incur an additional charge for larger bookings - please discuss it with us in advance. Cheques with a banker's card are fine, and cash is also fine. Casts that remain uncollected six weeks after you have been notified they are finished will be put into industrial storage for their safe keeping and for this we charge an additional fee of 10% of the item's value per month or partial month for the length of storage. The only exception to this is if you have pre-negotiated a late collection date due to mitigating circumstances. Please see our T&C page for full terms and conditions of service.
8) When will my life cast sculpture be ready for collection?
That depends on the kind of sculpture you choose, and the time of year (it pays to book early for Christmas, Valentine's Day or Mother's Day which can be very busy). Bear in mind that plaster retains moisture for many weeks before it can be safely sealed. Some companies promise a very fast turnaround but may be compromising the longevity of your cast by not allowing full curing time (sealing a cast before completely cured/dry inside can result in black mould, blistering of surface decoration or crumbling of your cast at a later date). We always hit a deadline such as a birthday or wedding without fail, but for such special occasions please book in at least 12-14 weeks ahead of the deadline for collection to avoid disappointment. There are methods of speeding up the drying time and also working with other materials that don't require so long, but this adds cost to your order and cannot always be fitted in depending on our schedule. If you have a 'rush job' that needs doing, feel free to contact us and we will help where possible or recommend one of our affiliates to help you if we cannot.
9) I would like more than one copy made of my lifecast. Is that possible?
Yes. But make sure you let us know at the time of booking that this is your intention, as it can make considerable difference to the price and techniques we use and we will always use the most cost effective method for you if we are given enough notice to arrange this in advance.
10) I would like my cast made in a different material than plaster. Is this possible?
Absolutely! We probably offer more material choices than any other company. Many material choices can be decided after you've had your original plaster cast made, as they all start with this process, but there are just a couple of the more unusual materials (such as a large drizzled pewter piece) that require a different method of casting from the get go - so if you already know you want something different, please let us know in advance. Sometimes we will need to refer you to one of our affiliates or send your original plaster lifecast to another artisan to be completed in more unusual materials such as glass, precious metals or metal veneers. We have even made lifecasts in chocolate and bread dough!
11) I am a student and I would like to do work experience with you.
Although we dream of having teams of capable and loyal minions helping us to run the busy studio, we are usually unable to accommodate work experience students due to health and safety reasons, although once in a blue moon we may take on the keenest of the keen for certain projects. If you would like to get involved with lifecasting as a possible career we recommend you start by experimenting with some simple lifecasting kits from our webshop to learn the basic techniques and then read as much as possible about this art form before taking it further. We also offer one-to-one and occasional small group training courses (usually 2 day courses) on basic casting techniques. Please email if you are interested in being notified about one to one training or workshops. You could also try persuading your school or college to hire us for a visiting half day workshop or artist in residence week which we can tailor to your age group and level of artistic ability.
12) Help! I dropped my cast and it has broken. Can it be repaired?
In most cases, yes, so don't panic. Some casts are easier to repair than others. Very often breakages can be repaired and the hairline cracks disguised. In instances where the break is very obvious may be possible to disguise the damage by using a decorative finish on the sculpture - such as a bronze or gilded effect. We can only quote prices for repairs on an individual basis after examining the breakage and discussing the options with you. Casts are surprisingly strong though, so do not shatter like a china plate when dropped. If you have had a cast made by another company that has been damaged or broken then we are happy to offer you a repair service. Very often by the time you go back to the original company they may have gone out of business. We don't charge higher fees for fixing other people's mistakes. We know how precious these casts are and want to help you whatever the circumstances.
13) What happens if my cast doesn't turn out right?
Most casts have some minor flaws to them when they first turn out such as air bubbles or water runs, which we clean up and re-sculpt by hand before you come to collect your finished sculpture. It is very unlikely that you would have to come back for a second casting session. If we see that there has been damage to a mould then we can usually repeat the casting process within the same session. There's honestly nothing for you to worry about.
14) Do you have disabled access/wheelchair ramps?
Unfortunately, our casting studio is based in our home - a Victorian terraced house up a few steep steps, too narrow and steep for a ramp to be built. However, we can arrange to hire other local venues that do have wheelchair access should you wish to visit us for a casting session. We will always do whatever we can to accommodate you. Both CJ and André are also in the process of learning British Sign Language to make it easier to communicate with deaf clients. We're not very good at it yet, and true to form CJ has learned the sign for 'chocolate' first which isn't much help in a lifecasting studio...but watch this space!
15) I would like you to make me something but I can't see it on your website. Can you make it?
Probably, yes. Or if we can't, we most probably know someone who can. We love being challenged and we love to learn, so please let us know what ideas you have and we will do everything in our power to make it happen for you. There's no such thing as a silly question (actually, there was *one* silly question asked once a long time ago which still makes us giggle, but we still answered it as best we could) and whatever you are thinking of, chances are someone else has already asked us, so no need to be embarrassed even if it might be a bit unusual.
16) Will be cast be delivered back to me?
Clients will usually need to return to Rockabelly Lifecasts to collect their sculptures as they are generally too precious to trust to post or courier. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general it is not worth risking such unique, one-off items to the post, however well wrapped. Some smaller casts and metal or cold cast pieces can be couriered at cost using our special inflatable packaging system. If we are visiting your area near the time your cast is completed, we can occasionally arrange to drop them by or liaise with you at a convenient location, but this is not a standard part of the service. We do offer deluxe lifecasting packages which can be expanded, at cost, to involve a home consultation and delivery/wall-mounting service for larger lifecasts in the more luxurious materials, but this is a 'bolt on' arrangement and must be discussed in advance of your booking wherever possible.
17) Will it hurt me?
No. Lots of people worry the casting material will rip their body hair out. Before applying the casting material, we get you to cover all exposed areas with a thin layer of Vaseline or barrier cream (for DIY casting kits this is provided and we recommend you go thickly and use the whole pot as different casting materials are used in different kits, so always follow the safety advice included). This prevents the casting material from sticking to your tiny body hairs when it is removed. We do recommend that if you have any very hairy areas that you shave that area to prevent the hairs getting caught in the casting material however this is less necessary for head casts. However, if you don't wish to then you do not need to shave, but you can get better results as air bubbles tend to collect in the body hairs and reduce the detail on your cast in those areas. Some people are worried about getting burned by the material. Although there have indeed been dreadful stories in the news of people burning their skin (and worse) during home or school casting sessions, this was because they were using the wrong materials in the wrong way - a common mistake when copying Youtube videos or guessing about methods rather than learning from an experienced professional. There is absolutely no danger of you getting burned during your session at our studio. You are in very experienced hands and we are using some of the safest and gentlest materials in the world. Your safety and comfort are always our priority.
18) What if I have an allergic reaction?
Obviously if you have a known allergy to any type of plaster or bandage/gauze cloth or to seaweed (which the casting gel is made from) then it would be advisable not to have the cast done. Having said that, in all the thousands of casts done around the world by members of the Association of Lifecasters International we have never once come across a case of allergic reaction to these very safe non-allergenic mediums - that's one of the reasons hospitals can feel confident to cast legs without your nose swelling up! We do not recommend casting over any areas of inflamed skin or open wounds however, as it is likely to be uncomfortable but you can cast over waterproof plasters if you have a small wound you wish to protect. The only real potential issue for some people is that some of the casting gels we use (being dental products) contain a small amount of mint oil as a scent. Some people find this makes their skin tingly in the same way minty toothpaste or strong minty sweets can make your mouth feel tingly and fresh. This feeling is something we're used to in our mouths when we brush our teeth but less used to on other areas of the body so the tingling can occasionally be misinterpreted as some sort of reaction. If you are at all worried, we do offer a patch testing service so you can reassure yourself that you are safe to use our service. The kits in our shop that use this material also recommend a small patch test and are supplied with suitable instructions on how to carry that out.
19) Can I bring my partner/husband/friend/mum?
Yes. In fact for casts done in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy or to clients who have a history of fainting or other problems we actually insist upon it. Not only will it relax you more and make it more fun and special to have someone there to tend to your needs (such as pass you drinks, rub your neck and shoulders etc), but on rare occasions as with any other situation pregnant ladies (or other people) have been known to feel faint and at those times it's reassuring to have someone with you. Your safety and comfort are what matter most to us, so please bring whoever you like, although large entourages may have to wait in the next room during parts of your casting session if there isn't enough space and we do like to know in advance if possible if you are bringing more than one guest or children with you.
20) Can I photograph or video the process?
Yes, we do allow cameras in the studio, as long as the footage/stills that you create are only for personal use. If you wish to post the footage/photos online then we like to see them first before uploading to your website of choice. We currently don't allow photos/videos during genital casting sessions though but you are welcome to bring a friend or partner for moral support, nonetheless.
21) Can you get rid of my cellulite/stretchmarks/scars?
The answer is yes. But what we would love you to know is that the little imperfections we all see in ourself in the mirror and judge so harshly can actually look really good in casts. They can make the stone look much more feminine and fleshy, even sexy in some cases. Seeing ourselves in sculpture we can see ourselves more objectively and judgements don't tend to be as harsh. We don't like to strip all the life out of the lifecasts so we prefer not to sand you to oblivion or you will end up looking as lifeless as a shop mannequin. However, if there is an area of your body that you feel negative about and want some artistic help with, or if the eye is drawn to a particular area of the cast for the wrong reasons, then we will absolutely do what is necessary to present you in the best light possible. We have decades of experience of helping our clients select the best poses and finishes that will be the most flattering to their bodies - male or female. We want you to love your cast, so we will work with you to achieve something awesome that you can be proud to show off to whomever you choose. We can soften scars so that they are still there (after all, they are a part of you) but don't draw the eye or dominate the cast, or we can remove them altogether. It completely depends on how you feel about your body and how you want to be represented in your bespoke bodycast sculpture. We won't judge you for asking and we certainly won't judge you for how you do or don't look. Every human body is a beautiful canvas to us with so much potential for artistic expression. So bring on your wobbly bits, webbed toes or your interesting scar from that time that seagull attacked you - and we will make something fabulous together!
22) I live too far away from you to have a private casting session. Can I buy the materials to make my own?
You can buy our wonderful DIY casting kits HERE - In an attractive white box, wrapped in tissue & bows these kits make fabulous gifts too! Please note that the kits for larger body parts (breasts, bellies, adult bottoms) only enable you to make low definition casts not the same type of casts you will see in our galleries. These casts capture the form of your body but not the detail of skin texture, etc, that you would see in a professional casting session with us. They are a great fun, safe and easy introduction into the wold of casting and you can do some pretty exciting and creative things with them even if you aren't very artistic by nature. Click here to see just a few examples of ways you might choose to decorate your DIY low definition cast.
23) I have had a cast made by another company/made a cast myself but I would love you to decorate it. Is this possible?
Yes, absolutely. Please get in touch to discuss your ideas and requirements.
24) I am starting my own casting business, but I haven't got many photos yet. Can I use yours?
No. Sorry, but this is against international copyright law, is fraudulent and misleading to your potential customers (as they may think our work is yours) and also very disrespectful to your fellow artists. If you haven't got enough of your own photos to display yet then it indicates that you haven't put enough time into practising to build up your portfolio and expertise yet either. If you haven't done this, then you are probably not yet ready or safe to be casting professionally. Take some time, build up your own portfolio gradually and safely - working up from small, simple casts to more complex pieces, take your own photos that you can be proud of knowing that it's all your own work. The same goes for the text on our website. All the information, text and images on our website and associated social media are protected by international copyright law and something we guard fiercely. Please get in touch if you have a commercial proposal for one or more of our images, but otherwise please refrain from using them illegally as we will bill people for unauthorised usage.
DIY Casting Kits from our online gift shop
1. What do the kits contain?
The kits contain all the professional-grade materials you need to make your cast, along with full, detailed, easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations to help you. Plus ideas and suggestions of how to decorate and finish your casts in a range of styles to suit any taste or artistic ability. You will need a few other items you can find around your house, such as bowls, mixing spoons and water to help you with your casting session.
2. How soon will I receive my kit after payment has been received?
We always aim to dispatch your kits within 7 days, but if you need your kit sooner, e.g. for a birthday or imminent due date, then let us know and we will try to rush your kit to you as a matter of priority. Depending on our availability, we can sometimes do next day delivery, but this may incur a small additional charge to cover costs. Our kits are normally dispatched by trackable couriers that deliver in 2-4 days on average from your dispatch date, but we also use Royal Mail on occasion, especially for next day delivery options. If you still haven't received your kit after 12 days, please get in touch.
3. Can I return the kit?
We are confident that you will find our kits so easy and fun to use that you will not want to, but if ever you have a problem, please contact us first for a return code before posting it back. You are responsible for the cost of returning the item. Please make sure you keep proof of postage. If there is a fault with the kit we are more than happy to refund or replace the product as soon as possible. However, if you have simply changed your mind, we will still accept returns according to your consumer rights if you notify us within 7 working days of receipt of your parcel, as long as the paper security seal on the front of the box has not been opened. This is because the kits contain air and date-sensitive products, so like food and other perishable goods, they are only applicable for a refund if returned in a re-saleable condition (i.e. unopened - unless of course there is a problem with the contents).
4. Do you sell any other kinds of kit?
We are developing several new kits ourselves this year, and are forming affiliations with other casting kit making businesses around the world to bring you the best quality and easiest to use products. If there is a kind of kit we don't sell yet, it's either because we haven't yet found one we place our confidence in or we don't believe that type of kit is suitable for beginners. There are a great many cheap casting kits flooding the market place, but casting is one area where the quality of materials you use and the instructions that are included can make the world of difference, in the same way that a Pot Noodle and a roast dinner with all the trimmings are both meals - but with very different satisfaction levels. We will never endorse any product we haven't fully tested first and can place our confidence in. For baby hand and foot casting, we currently recommend booking a professional casting session if at all possible, as you are guaranteed a successful and beautifully finished cast that will not disappoint. For something so precious, that will be cherished for a lifetime, getting it done professionally for a little extra cost is something that no one ever regrets. The cost is soon forgotten, but the results are always remembered. Read our blog post on DIY baby kits and other kinds of DIY hand casting kits for further details on why we think it's worth the little extra to have a professional do this kind of cast.
5. I bought a kit from somewhere else, but am not pleased with the finished results. Can I send it to you to be fixed or finished?
Sometimes, yes. In the first instance, please email and send a photo or photos of the cast in question for us to assess and give you a quote. We are also happy to repair, decorate or recast in bronze or other materials any casts you have made using our kits or any other kits. You can see some examples of kit casts we have 'upgraded' for our clients here.
6. I/my wife/my friend is having a mastectomy operation. Are your breast casting kits suitable to record my figure before my operation?
Our breast casting kits are low-definition - that is, they capture the form of your shape without all the detail of skin texture that you would get in a professional casting. So if you can get to us (or any other professional) for a private casting appointment you will get much better results with skin texture. However, many women have used our kits successfully to record their figure pre-operation and with a little care and effort have made satisfyingly beautiful casts of their breasts just in time. Our nipple casting kits are high definition, capturing every tiny detail. Some very clever customers have even combined the two kits, sculpting together the results to achieve a high definition look at low definition prices. However we recognise not everyone has these artistic abilities. Many women have come to the Rockabelly studio under these difficult and stressful circumstances and every single one has commented on how it made them feel better - more empowered, a little calmer, facing the difficult journey ahead. Whether you want a simple record of your pre-op body or to create something more artistic that expresses some of what you are feeling inside, we will help you as much and as sensitively as possible. Please visit our pre-mastectomy gallery to see examples of some of the beautiful casts we've had the privilege of making for extraordinary women in extraordinarily difficult circumstances or our full breast and torso casting gallery for ideas of how you might like us to immortalise your figure in art.
7) Why don't you sell kits outside of the UK?
On occasion we have sent our kits all over the world, however, they include very heavy materials making overseas postage extremely expensive. They also contain white powders and other materials that occasionally cause raised eyebrows at Customs which can delay your package while items are tested for illegal substances. Outside of Europe seven individual pieces of paperwork are needed to send each parcel, which also adds up to a lot of un-chargeable working hours. If you live outside the UK and desperately want a kit, email us and we will usually make an exception if you are willing to pay the rather hefty international postal charges and any local import duties that your local Customs & Excise may apply or we may be able to recommend a kit manufacturer closer to your home country.
Pregnant Belly Casting - high definition (professional casting)
1) How is it done?
A cool casting gel (made from a seaweed-derivative) is applied to the skin to capture detail and texture, and this is then backed up by layers of warm plaster bandage to capture your form. After you leave, we use this mould to cast out a copy of your pregnant body in high stone content gypsum plaster.
2) How long does it take?
We recommend you allow an hour and a half to two hours for most casting sessions, including time to prep the model and clean you up afterwards. The actual time you will be in the cast depends on what pose you have decided on. For a belly on its own, it might take as little as 20 minutes of sitting. For a full torso, you are looking at around 45 minutes but most people find the time passes very quickly as it's quite an entertaining and rather silly process.
3) Will it hurt the baby?
Absolutely not. We use medical grade materials and can provide data safety sheets on request. The casting gel we use is a dental product which has to undergo a mountain of safety checks to be used safely within the mouths of even young children or people with compromised immune systems and is very safe and gentle. So gentle, in fact, that they use it in beauty spas to improve your skin, so safe that it is used as a food thickener to provide extra nutrients. The plaster bandage used to cover you is very similar to that used in hospitals to cast a broken limb and will not make direct contact with your skin as you are shielded both with the gel and a barrier creme. The baby is free to move around during the process (occasionally you can see the way it was laying in your belly - to one side or another) and there is no 'constriction' of the womb. In fact, as the bandage dries, it will naturally 'lift away' from the body rather than press inwards. We choose poses that do not place any pressure on your womb, nor on the arteries that supply the womb or placenta. Our past clients have included midwives, GPs, surgeons and obstetricians who have all commended us on our knowledge and sensitivity to the safety and wellbeing of our pregnant clients.
4) Will it hurt me?
No. Before applying the casting material, we get you to cover all exposed areas with a thin layer of Vaseline or barrier cream (for DIY casting kits this is provided and we recommend you go thickly and use the whole pot). This prevents the plaster bandage from sticking to your tiny body hairs when it is removed. You can actually feel the first layer of bandage coming away from you easily and becoming hard within minutes of it being applied. We do recommend that if you have a particularly hairy tummy (as we sometimes get in pregnancy) or other very hairy areas that you shave that area to prevent the hairs getting caught in the casting material. However, if you don't wish to shave before using your kit you can always lay a piece of clingfilm over the area to protect you from a 'free waxing'. For high definition casting sessions at our studio you do not need to shave, but you can get better results as air bubbles tend to collect in the body hairs and reduce the detail on your cast in those areas.
5) What if I have an allergic reaction?
Obviously if you have a known allergy to any type of plaster or bandage/gauze cloth or to seaweed (which the casting gel is made from) then it would be advisable not to have the belly cast done. Having said that, in all the thousands of belly casts done around the world by members of the Association of Lifecasters International we have never once come across a case of allergic reaction to these very safe mediums - that's one of the reasons hospitals can feel confident to cast legs without your nose swelling up! We do not recommend casting over any areas of enflamed skin or open wounds however, as it is likely to be uncomfortable but you can cast over waterproof plasters if you have a small wound you wish to protect. The only real potential issue for some people is that some of the casting gels we use (being dental products) contain a small amount of mint oil as a scent. Some people find this makes their skin tingly in the same way minty toothpaste or strong minty sweets can make your mouth feel tingly and fresh. This feeling is something we're used to in our mouths when we brush our teeth but less used to on other areas of the body so the tingling can occasionally be misinterpreted as some sort of reaction. If you are at all worried, we do offer a patch testing service so you can reassure yourself that you are safe to use our service.
6) What does it feel like?
The process of application is often compared to being basted with cold yoghurt and then wrapped in a warm spa treatment! It can be quite relaxing and a lot of fun, although if you are sitting for one of the longer poses you might like to get your partner or friend to massage your shoulders for the last few minutes as everyone knows sitting in one pose can get a little achy after a while.
7) Can I bring my partner/husband/friend/mum?
Yes. In fact for casts done in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy or to mothers who have a history of fainting or other problems we actually insist upon it. Not only will it relax you more and make it more fun and special to have someone there to tend to your needs (such as pass you drinks, rub your neck and shoulders etc), but on rare occasions as with any other situation pregnant ladies have been known to feel faint and at those times it's reassuring to have someone with you. Your safety and comfort are what matter most to us, so please bring whoever you like, although large entourages may have to wait in the next room during parts of your casting session if there isn't enough space.
8) Can you come out to me or do I have to come to you?
We strongly recommend everyone comes to our studio if they can. The studio is perfectly set up for casting and we don't have to worry about making a mess of your floor. We live within four minutes walk or a very short taxi ride from a mainline station (less than an hour from London) and just off the M20 if coming by car. We can recommend local places to eat, stay over and visit if you would like to make a day or special weekend of your visit. If you cannot or will not travel and have the budget for a call out then it may sometimes be possible for us to come to you by special arrangement, although for safety reasons, we only work off site in pairs and have to charge quite a lot extra for time and petrol so this can prove cost-prohibitive to most people. We are also told frequently by our clients that being cast at the studio is an important part of experience, immersing yourself in the arty environment of a working artist's studio for a couple of hours, seeing the many interesting samples and feeling inspired. So do come to us if you can.
9) Can I photograph or video the process?
Yes, we do allow cameras in the studio, as long as the footage/stills that you create are only for personal use. If you wish to post them online, we like to see them first to give approval of any published footage.
10) Can I decorate and hang it myself?
Of course. If you are artistic or if our custom-decorating prices are a little above your budget then I can give you loads of tips on simple, yet effective ways to decorate your finished belly cast and some expert advice for more adventurous ideas like mosaicking. Examples of our work can be seen in the belly-casting galleries - however you are not at all limited by what's come before - please challenge us with your ideas and we would love to make your belly cast dreams come true.
11) Can I decide to have it decorated by you at a later date?
Of course. We can decorate or even recast your belly in more exotic materials at any point in the future so long as you have taken care of the original. Even if it has been slightly damaged, we can usually repair them without too much trouble. This may be the perfect solution if money is tight (as it often is when a baby is due and you have so many things to buy for them) yet you would love to have your belly cast made into a beautiful heirloom artwork for yourself or your child.
12) When is the best time to have a pregnancy cast done?
We recommend coming between your 7th and 8th month, depending on how big your bump is and if you have any history of premature births. However we have cast people even past their due date. We don't believe it adds much benefit being cast right at the end of your pregnancy as the bump doesn't tend to get larger in the final month, it just drops lower as the baby's head engages - making it harder to sit still for a casting session with the baby's head pressing on your bladder. However, as long as you are healthy, able to travel and have someone with you, we will cast you at any time during your pregnancy.
13) I live too far away from you to have a private belly cast. Can I buy the materials to make my own?
You can now buy our wonderful DIY casting kits HERE - In an attractive white box, wrapped in tissue & pink bows these kits make fabulous gifts too! Please note though that the kits only enable you to make low definition casts, or bandage casts as they are sometimes known. These casts capture the form of your body but not the detail of skin texture, etc. They are a great fun, safe and easy introduction into the wold of casting and you can do some pretty exciting and creative things with them even if you aren't very artistic by nature. Click here to see just a few examples of ways you might choose to decorate your DIY low definition cast.
14) How soon will my belly cast be available for collection?
This can depend on the time of year and what pose/finish/decoration you choose. If you opt for a plain white wall-hung stone cast then it normally requires 12-14 weeks with the drying time needed to guarantee heirloom quality. Real bronzes take 4-5 months on average to complete, but cold cast metals and other resin based options can be done faster.
15) Can I have a pregnancy sculpture in other materials than plaster?
Yes! If you have a plaster cast made we can make a more durable silicone rubber mould from this, called an 'investment mould' - from which copies of your belly can be made in a variety of materials - from coloured resins, to semi-precious metals...even leather! Please see our pricing page for further details, examples and prices as well as our main gallery.
16) Can my husband/partner/children be involved in the cast in some way?
Family members are not only more than welcome to watch, but we can also include them in the cast should you so wish. Partners and older children can have their hands cast on the bump while you sit there, and younger children can either be cast separately and then sculpted on, or we find other ways to include them such as taking hand prints and recreating them in gold leaf on your bump. We are more than happy to discuss other ways to involve them.
17) I've paid the booking deposit for a belly casting session, but my wife has gone into labour early. Have I lost my money?
Not at all. You can always use the deposit to put towards any other kind of casting we offer such as a baby foot, hand or bottom casting when your baby is born. If you are cancelling the appointment within 7 days of making the booking but no less than 14 days before your scheduled appointment then we will offer you a refund minus any deductions for ordered-in materials/related costs or losses. If more than 7 days after you made the original booking then we will usually retain all of your deposit to cover losses, which is why we offer you the option to transfer this to another type of casting on another date so that you don't lose out.
18) What happens if I go into labour during my casting session?
In more than 18 years of casting bellies, this hasn't happened to CJ, although André was once asked to cast a friend of his during her labour and completed an absolutely beautiful cast for the mum-to-be...just in time, helping to pass the time while her contractions got close enough together for her to be ready go to hospital. We can actually get you out of the mould within seconds if you needed to 'exit' at speed, so there's no need to worry about being stuck or unable to leave when you need to. Our nearest, state of the art maternity unit at Maidstone Hospital is about 15 minutes away by car, with a much bigger maternity hospital about 40 minutes away in Pembury Hospital. We certainly wouldn't panic as most labours take a long time to progress, and keeping active during labour and keeping yourself busy and distracted is generally good practise, so we'd leave it completely up to you what to do under those circumstances. Your health, safety and wellbeing will always come first with us. But if your waters break while you're in our studio we hope you call the baby 'CJ'...even if it's a boy!
19) Why don't you do high definition casting kits for pregnant bellies?
Because we believe this type of casting is too advanced for people who are inexperienced at casting and we will not take risks with your safety, nor would we want you to be disappointed with the results of any kit we sell. For this reason, we recommend certain types of casting are only carried out by experienced and caring professionals.
Baby or child casting
1) Will it hurt my baby/child?
Absolutely not. All materials that come in contact with the child's skin are completely organic and non-toxic. No known allergic reactions have been reported in hundreds of thousands of cases around the world. The process itself is very gentle - feeling like dipping your hand into luke warm yoghurt. The only part of the process that can be tricky for a young child or baby is keeping still for the 1-2 minutes it takes to get a good cast. With babies we achieve this by trying to cast them when they are napping or having a feed or otherwise distracted by something they enjoy. With toddlers this is usually achieved with a mixture of distraction, bribery (choccy biccy or whatever their favourite treat is) and firmness (parent holds child firmly by the wrist or ankle to help them keep still). With older children usually an explanation of what they will achieve or a small treat is enough to persuade them and we work at floor level (or their preferred height) so they are as relaxed as possible. Remember that although your baby may cry, they are not being hurt in any way - simply annoyed with you for making them do something strange or possibly just confused that one moment they can wiggle that thing on the end of that other thing they have and suddenly they can't wiggle it any more. For 1-2 minutes of annoyance, you and they will get a lifetime of pleasure from capturing their tiny hand/feet/bottom in totally realistic sculpture. It is something you and they could never regret having done, and will provide endless fascination to them as they grow and compare the size of their hand/foot 'now' to how sweet and small it was 'then'.
2) How long does the casting session take?
To take the cast itself can take only a few minutes. However, I like to leave an hour to an hour and half for casting sessions to enable you and your child to relax, talk through the process, check the size and shape of the area you wish to be cast, etc. For babies this can be important because they can take a while to settle and it's amazing how strong a baby can be when it wants to be wiggly! It's good to have that extra time not to feel rushed, as casting is in some ways like taking a 3d photograph - if someone moves even slightly during a photograph you can see it's them but it's slightly blurred, losing crisp detail. The same is true of casting - the stiller the baby or child, the better the results. So with team effort and good timing we try a few different methods to get the best from your child.
3) What should we wear?
Both you and your baby should wear clothes that 'don't matter'. Casting can be a messy business and no matter how carefully we try to cover you up, one swift kick of a baby's foot can get you covered in 'goop'. The casting material does come out of some cloth with a process of rubbing with Fairy Liquid or other similar washing up liquid once it has dried, but who wants the bother of extra laundry nonsense when you can just come in something old and tatty and relax throughout the whole process.
4) What happens if my baby poos or wees while having its bottom cast?
We shout 'Euewww!' in unison and then you clean up the baby while I clean up the table/floor and then we start again. Actually wees are not a problem and won't affect the cast at all. we are parents ourselves and can deal with this sort of thing without so much as raising an eyebrow. It's amazing how having your own baby or pet dog can acclimatise you to all kinds of bodily functions, awkward smells and embarrassing squelching noises. Very little can shock us.
5) What if my baby/child won't hold still long enough to be cast?
Well, although 1-2 minutes sounds like no time at all to an adult, it can on rare occasion be too much for a little one to cope with keeping still for on their own, particularly older babies or toddlers who are not old enough to understand but old enough to have an opinion about what's happening to them. For this I recommend doing a joint parent/child pose, such as the ones shown in this gallery. Although these are a bit more costly, they are often far more rewarding. It's a little bit of your history with you and your baby bonded together for all time - even if they grow up to be brooding teenagers that never speak to you again. ;-) We have many different techniques and tricks for getting the best from your baby or child, regardless of their age or personality (or mood of the day) but casting youngens is definitely a team effort so come prepared to get involved. Moving during a casting is a bit like moving during a photo - you lose that lovely crisp detail. So it's good to give your casting session some extra time so nobody feels rushed and we can find the right way to get your baby or child relaxed and in the mood for being cast.
6) Can we have more than one copy of the same cast?
Yes, for an extra charge a silicone mould can be made from the original cast and use it to make several copies. Obviously, the more copies you have made, the more economical this works out. However if you just require 2-4 baby feet in plaster for example, it's actually more economical to make four individual casts than do copies of one. If you are having a bronze, pewter, glass or cold cast metal cast made then we make a silicone mould as part of this process, meaning you can therefore order copies in these or other materials at a much cheaper rate.
7) Do you do casting parties?
Yes, this can be arranged although we do charge a call out fee and have a minimum charge (which works out better if you split it between a larger group). The best time to do this is when the babies are still quite young and small and sleep/feed a lot - as we can take it in turns to do the baby that is relaxed at that moment and leave the restless or screaming ones till later. We will do this for older babies but be aware that you may need to do the joint parent/baby pose if your baby struggles a lot as a strong baby can rip through the casting material with a hard kick if it is not held firmly. For older children we will also do group casting sessions and are very happy to do birthday events, but I like to avoid this for the young toddler age group as they are often the most challenging age group and require more concentrated one to one attention - being old enough to resist attempts to keep them still yet not old enough to understand what it is we are asking them to do and be negotiated with/bribed. We will travel further afield than our local area for party bookings - up to London for instance, or Sussex, Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire and Berkshire. Other locations may be possible on request and negotiation of a higher call out charge. The exact charges will depend on distance, the number of children being cast and the desired materials they will be cast in. We quote for parties on a per job basis to please get in touch to discuss your requirements.
8) What materials can my children's casts be made in?
Your plaster casts can be remade in a selection of other materials such as real bronze, solid pewter, hallmarked silver or gold, cold cast metal/resins, and glass to name but a few. Other materials may be available soon, so please ask if what you want isn't listed.
9) I want my baby cast to have an open hand, not a fist.
With little ones, there is no guarantee of pose. 99% of baby casts will end up in a clenched or loose fist shape because babies have an instinct to 'grip' items placed into the palm of their hand - and when they feel the cast gel, it triggers this gripping reflex. At Rockabelly Lifecasts, however, we've recently developed a method for younger babies which enables us to get open hand casts much more often. It involves a bit of team effort, and takes a bit of patience to get right, but we will do our best if an open hand cast is what you've set your heart on.
Adult hand clasps/casts
1) Will the process damage our wedding/engagement rings?
Not at all. The casting process will pick up the most beautiful details of your rings, making your sculpture even more personal to you. Not all rings/stone cuts are suitable for casting though, so we like it if our clients send a quick photo of any jewellery they would like included so we can assess it for viability.
2) Can we have the casting session videoed or photographed to go in our wedding video/album?
Of course! It makes a lovely memory for the two of you. There's nothing like dunking your entwined hands in goop to make you feel romantic. If you require us to book a professional photographer or videographer to record the occasion for you, then let us know in advance. We are happy to take snaps for you with your own cameras or ours.
3) When will the finished sculpture be ready for collection?
This depends on whether you have chosen to have a plain or decorative finish, freestanding or on a base, etc. If you want your casting ready to be displayed at your wedding (for example, next to the cake or even as a cake-topper) then I recommend coming for a casting session about 14 weeks before the day to guarantee the timings. We can sometimes do rush jobs, but it's best to book early whenever possible. If you're not fussed about displaying it on the day, then obviously it's not available any sooner/later but that won't matter so much. If you've been given the casting as a wedding present on the day then the timing of when you have it done is completely up to you.
4) How many adults can we have cast holding hands in a group?
The largest family group we have cast together is seven adults, which we believe equals the current world record for the largest 'wreath' cast (or ring of hands). However, if you would like a larger group cast there are ways and means to make it happen - and we love a challenge!
5) I'm worried about my hands looking 'old'. Can you do anything to help?
Although we don't believe there is any shame in looking old, the answer is yes, we can help bring the best out of any body part or pose whilst still retaining the unique character of the model.
Animal (pet) casts
1) What if my dog is likely to snap or bite?
You can muzzle him if you like, but if your dog has that sort of temperament he/she may not be suited to having this done. Only you can judge this - but please be honest about your dog's temperament, as we do not consider being savaged a fun part of our work even though we love all animals.
2) Will it hurt my dog?
Not at all. I will gently press their paw or paws into a soft, safe casting material to create a paw impression cast, or to get a 3d lifecast of their paw I will protect their fur with a safe barrier material and dip it gently into lukewarm casting gel. If you know or think your dog has any peculiar skin allergies then please check with your vet first and we will give you a list of the materials your dog might come into contact with. Some dogs are very sensitive about having their paws touched, so it can take a few goes. If your dog is likely to be seriously distressed by having their paws touched for a minute then this might not be the best thing to do for your pet even though the process is safe and painless for them. However, with you cuddling or holding the front of the dog and feeding it treats (please bring any favourites), and me working quickly with the back paw, most dogs won't even notice what's happening before it is finished.
3) Can you cast my cat's paw?
Usually. Again, this comes down to the personality of your cat. I recommend wrapping the cat in a towel or blanket and then holding them firmly and reassuring them with strokes or treats while I extract the one paw I am working on (so the others can't maim me!) from the towel. I work quickly, to cause as little stress as possible. If you have a particularly wild or nervous cat, then it's probably not best to attempt this.
4) My just died or needs to be put down imminently, I would like a casting done immediately after to remind me of him/her - is this possible?
Depending on availability, and distance, this can sometimes be arranged particularly if you are local to us and use the Alphapet vet surgery near us or other vets in the Maidstone area. Because in this very sad instance there is no problem with them keeping still for the casting, we actually get a much better casting - working further up the limb if required and using a casting material which captures every detail. We understand that in this situation you may be quite distressed, and we aim to be as sensitive as possible to your needs and respect the dignity of your pet. This type of casting would usually have to be arranged in advance to guarantee our availability and need to be done extremely quickly after the pet was put to sleep, however we have had same-day calls and will always fit people in where we can - especially if you are able to bring your pet to us. I'm afraid if you have a pet that has died of an infectious disease or is ill with one then we won't be able to cast it, as we would not like to spread infection from one pet to another. If in doubt - check with your vet first!
5) Will you cast other kinds of animals?
Yes! We can do any pet paw from gerbils to guinea pigs, and can sometimes accommodate more unusual farm or zoo animals by arrangement. André has cast live lions, tigers and leopards and both our lifecasters have cast an elephant! Sometimes we will need to liaise with your vet/animal sanctuary staff to make this possible, and it can be a good idea to schedule a lifecast to coincide with any vet or dental work your animals needs so that it can be done while they are under anaesthetic. For more exotic pets such as lizards, we ask that you check with your vet first about any skin sensitivity they may have to the materials we use. It may be possible to cast part of your pet or even the whole pet (depending what kind of animal it is) when they have died, so long as they are brought to us quickly or kept in a freezer until they can be cast (please be aware that the freezing process can distort soft tissue like ears and jowls though).
6) What kind of casts can you take of animals in general?
Most people ask for paws, hooves or claws, but on deceased animals we can also do snouts, noses, sometimes faces, we can take fur clippings to be put into jewellery beads or lockets for you, we can do paw prints as well as casts, and ink prints which can also be digitised and turned into jewellery, we can also shrink casts to make miniature charms of your pet paws. Nose casts (depending on size) can be made into key rings, magnets, even pendants. We have cast a whole cat before, large areas of living elephant skin (elephants are so smart you can just ask them to help - easier than casting a child) and on hairless animals we can cast larger areas of them if they are deceased. In general, with a few exceptions, feet casts of animals are the safest and least stressful for your pet.
Casting of large or unusual body parts
1) Can you do any body part?
Yes. Although larger and more complex sculptures can sometimes require the help of two or more lifecasters, for which we sometimes need more notice to arrange. Larger body parts can be done as a rough shape (using plaster bandages), which can later be smoothed, or as a fine art piece (using the casting gel method). There is quite a difference in price that reflects the difference in quality and the amount of work involved. If you are looking for a high definition full body cast it will cost several thousand pounds, whereas bandage casts can be made for a few hundred but the results are strikingly different.
2) I am about to start a diet and exercise plan - can you cast me 'before' and 'after'?
Indeed I can. We have done this for several attendees of Weight Watchers and Slimming World and they found it even helped their motivation to be able to 'try on' their former body and see how much smaller they had become as they continued their plan. Alternatively, since Cj herself is a nice bumptious lady herself and sees nothing wrong or shameful about having a big body (other than personal health concerns which are another matter entirely) - you can choose to come and be cast at any stage of your life, dieting or other wise and we will find a pose that shows off the beauty in your existing body - encouraging you to think positively about yourself and who you are, regardless of your size or shape. When you see your body recreated in sculpture you might be surprised at how beautiful, sensual and exotic a larger figure can look! After all, this is something the classical sculptors and artists have known for centuries.
3) Can you cast me with my arms up above my head to lift my breasts a bit?
This isn't advisable. Firstly, it makes people feel faint very quickly as the heart has to work harder to circulate blood around the body if your arms are up high, and secondly, although it perks the breasts up from the front view, from the side it can make them look strange and stretched out. Not as flattering as you might think. Lastly, it would get very uncomfortable within a couple of minutes standing like that (try it at home and see!). However, we can tell you how to stand and position your arms safely and comfortably in order to give a good amount of lift to your breast tissue if it is something you are at all worried about.
4) I am about to have an operation. I would like to have a casting done of my body before/after to help me feel better about it.
No problem. So long as your doctor or health consultant has no concerns, CJ can create a sculpture for you before and/or after your operation. Examples include ladies having breast removal (mastectomy) operations who would like a memory preserved of their former figure. Or indeed, a casting done (once they are completely healed from the operation) of their new body shape - creating beautiful sculpture from their body with the aim of helping them to come to terms with the changes and feel more positive about their new form.This can also be achieved for limb removal operations, or any operation where a scar might affect the look and feel of a favourite body part (e.g. a navel casting before a laparoscopy). We've cast beautiful children born with extra toes or fingers (polydactylism) or webbed toes before elective surgery which is a nice way to keep a record of how you were born even if practical reasons make it necessary to have the extra digits removed. You can even have a casting done of your face and/or body before going in for cosmetic surgery so you can remind yourself and your friends of the change that's taken place.
5) What about unusual poses?
Bearing in mind that for larger body parts you have to stay still a lot longer than the 3 minutes it takes to dip cast a hand or foot, the pose is often up to you. Unusual poses often bring with them unusual challenges, but with planning and negotiation we can usually come up with a way of achieving what you require. Modelling for a large body part casting can often prove a little uncomfortable - whether it's just from the standing/sitting/lying still, the cooler (sometimes icy) temperature of the casting material when it first goes on (this lower temperature is necessary for larger body parts to allow a longer working time with the material), taking the casting off should a stray pubic or facial hair work its way into the mould and many other less than comfortable instances. If you want something unusual or dramatic remember you are creating a one off, totally fabulous piece of artwork and be prepared to suffer a little for your art - it will make for much more interesting dinner conversation afterwards too.
6) Can you do full body casts?
Yes, we have done many full body casts for many different reasons - collaborations with other artists, bodies for film and television, working with Cosplay enthusiasts or other costumiers, the creation of ultra realistic fine art figures or mannequins. Full body casting is not cheap and cutting corners is not an option as health and safety always come first. Simple plaster bandage casts that capture the form with no detail and add bulk cost several hundred pounds, whereas high definition casts to give a realistic finish cost several thousand pounds. Exact prices depend on everything from the size of the model, the pose chosen, if the cast is being displayed indoors or out, if you require mounts or stands, if you are doing the finishing yourself or require us to do it, the final material or finish choice of the piece, and many other factors. Please email giving full details of your project idea, preferably with drawings/design sketches for more information and pricing. Examples of some completely different kinds of full body casts can be seen here.
Lips or kiss casting
1) Will the casting gel get in my mouth?
That all depends on how good you are at holding a pouting pose without sucking. Usually a tiny bit will creep in the edges of the lips. Although it doesn't taste very nice, it's completely harmless - variants of the same compound are used in food as a setting agent, so you've probably had it in your mouth before. Dentists also use a variety of the compound for casting your teeth and gums, so you can be reassured that it's totally safe and appropriate for that use. The compound is made from seaweed, so is fine for vegetarians/vegans. Kiss casting is not advisable with a blocked nose or whilst under the influence of alcohol or strong medication, or if you have broken skin such as a cold sore.
2) Can my children use the kiss casting kits?
The kits are not safe for use on young children because of the risk of them misunderstanding instructions and choking or eating the casting gel.
3) Can I send my plaster lips to you to be finished in another material?
Yes, absolutely! We offer a finishing and upgrade service for the results of any of our kits. You can have lips cleaned up (getting rid of air bubbles and smoothing the edge nicely) and finished with a real metal veneer, recast in pewter, bronze, cold cast metals or even glass. For a few examples, take a look in this gallery.
4) I'm organising a hen party or charity event. Can you do a larger kit with enough materials for a large group? Or can you visit our event to take casts?
Yes and yes. Just get in touch and tell us your requirements.
5) I want to make a kiss cast for my partner to be able to carry in their pocket when we are apart. What material finish should I choose?
We would recommend either a cold cast metal or real metal. Plaster, plaster with veneer or glass casts are likely to get chipped if carried around too much.
6) How long does it take to make the cast?
The actual moulding time for kiss casts or other small simple casts is only a couple of minutes. The whole process of casting, pouring and setting the casts is very quick and can be done in under an hour. However, even with small casts you need to allow for drying time. On a warm dry windowsill or sitting on top of a radiator or inside an airing cupboard your kiss cast will dry more quickly, but I would still allow 1-2 weeks before painting or sealing your finished cast if you want it to last for as long as possible. If we are finishing the cast for you then we will need at least 2 weeks for painted finishes, 3 weeks for cold cast finishes and up to 6 weeks for either bronze or glass.
7) Can I be cast kissing my partner (i.e. from the side of my face)?
Yes, we have an example of a cast like this in our gallery. It's not an easy pose to model for, but there are optional ways to create a similar piece that may work better for you which we can discuss when you book.
1) Do you cast female genitalia?
Yes. As well as individual private casting sessions we also run occasional Female Genital Casting Workshop Days for groups of around 5 or more women at a time, which can be a fun, enlightening and memorable way for your women's group to discover, rediscover or just celebrate their femininity. Female genital casting can be a positive way to re-connect with your genitals or reclaim them after sexual or birth trauma, although obviously only you can judge if you might find it helpful or not. Contact us for more details. Casts can be left plain to show off every detail or decorated in absolutely any way - as a serious art piece or a piece of ostentatious fun - you can even have them cast in precious metals. Check out our gallery for inspiration. In addition to full genital casts we also offer a clitoris casting service - and we can turn these into jewellery items should you wish it. Yes, it’s a strange old job we do, and not what CJ put down on her form at the careers fair back in her school days (back then she said she wanted to be an ‘astronaut or a Bond Girl), but life takes us in all kinds of unexpected directions. :o)
2) How embarrassingly awful is the process?
Absolutely everybody who has had one done by us commented on how the casting procedure wasn't nearly as embarrassing as they were expecting, and all of them enjoyed the day immensely. It does make it a lot more fun to do with a friend or two, and since we're all girls together we simply crank up the music and laugh together most of the way through it. It's not nearly as clinical or austere as a smear test, and many people comment on how having the casting done is as memorable as actually keeping the cast itself. Read some of our testimonials for reassurance if you are feeling nervous and dare to be bare!
3) What do I have to do?
We do recommend that you remove your pubic hair (in whatever way is most comfortable for you), as this means there's less to get caught up in the mould, less air bubbles collecting in the cast hair and the resulting cast looks more well defined without needing any sanding. If you choose not to remove your pubic hair, then you can apply a thick layer of barrier cream to protect your hair which we will provide, but please bear in mind you may lose the odd one as they seem to have a way of escaping into the mould gel no matter how much they are smoothed down.
On the day CJ, our female lifecaster, will ask you to remove your clothing (you can keep a bra or short top on - best to wear one that doesn't matter too much in case of stray casting gel), and lay on your back on a comfy pilates mat or casting table. Everyone always feels a bit self conscious at this part.
If you want a closed legged pose then you stay as you are, or otherwise 'assume the smear test position'. The embarrassment literally only lasts a split second as before anyone has a chance to look at you or for you to start blushing, CJ has poured a bowl full of lukewarm casting goo over your lady parts. The closest comparison to sensation would be to imagine someone pouring cool thick yoghurt over you. Most people squeal and laugh at this point. It's very hard to take it seriously given that the goo is bright blue or bright purple! As your 'blue/purple jelly pants' start to set, CJ applies a few layers of wet plaster bandage to your pubic area to form a hard outer shell that will support the mould. By this time you look like you're wearing a brightly coloured rubber thong with a sumo wrestler's nappy over the top. It's not a sexy process, but it's something to talk about at dinner parties for the rest of your life!
When this layer is set we gently pull the mould away from your body and you can get cleaned up while CJ works on filling the mould with plaster. If you want to decorate the cast yourself it is occasionally possible to take it away on the day or the same week. If you wish us to decorate or finish the cast for you, or mount it or cut it into a particular shape, then it will take several weeks depending on how busy we are.
4) Can I bring a friend for moral support?
Yes, of course. It is important for you to feel safe, comfortable and to enjoy the day as much as possible. However, if you are bringing a male partner or friend, they must be aware that the casting session is not meant for their personal titillation and they are expected to behave themselves at all times (although obviously giggling profusely is an expected part of the event). It is permitted to take photographs during the casting session although we will ask you to sign a form agreeing to only use the photographs for your personal reference and they must not be published in any form including on the internet, without signed permission from Rockabelly Lifecasts. We actually recommend you bring somebody with you, even if they are just there to point and laugh - it's good to share laughs with a friend.
5) What happens if I get my period when the casting session is due?
Don't worry. Everybody asks this. You can choose to rearrange your casting appointment, or use a tampon and it won't affect the casting session at all. For everyone's reassurance I keep plenty of babywipes and tissues around the workshop so you can 'freshen up' at any time if you are feeling self-conscious. All we ask is that everyone who comes for such an intimate casting is in good health in the nether department and has a shower before they come for their casting session. Piercings are better off removed or (depending on the type of piercing) taped down, or moved to the side and cast.
6) Do you do internal genital casts of women?
No. With good reason. Although we have seen a couple of examples of this 'out there' in the world, and they are both fascinating and beautiful, we have also heard reports of women being injured during the process. This is due to the natural shape of the inside of a woman's vagina. Contrary to popular belief, the inside of a woman's genitals is not a simple tube shape, but actually 'tents' inside nearer the opening of the womb. This means that any casting material dispensed into the vagina would form into a larger area than the size of the hole it has to exit from once set. Although women's vaginas are designed to stretch a lot during childbirth - most people realise that childbirth (or the act of having something large exit your holy of holies - pretty much what needs to happen with the set casting gel) is rather painful, and that's with a lot of helpful hormones that make the area more stretchy at that time that aren't in your system the rest of the time. Internal castings can and do sometimes injure women for this reason, and there's even a risk of the set casting material breaking off inside you. For all these reasons we do not do, nor recommend this type of casting to our clients.
7) Do you do penis casting?
We have nothing whatsoever against penises and hate to discriminate against owners of them in any way, but for safety reasons, we don't do this now apart from in a fine art context of much larger art pieces, which are conducted by André, our male lifecaster. We recommend purchasing a penis casting kit from a reputable company to try it yourself. Sadly the Proud Peckers casting kits which we previously sold are no longer in production and we are seeking an alternative of equal quality to pass onto our customers.
Men are often intimidated in a workshop casting environment and so are more likely to achieve their best 'pose' in the privacy of their own home rather than with a stranger in a boiler suit armed with a scary looking spatula. When you have made a cast to be proud of, we would be more than happy to decorate individual penis casts to your requirements, or in a his and hers matching style.
As this is a family establishment, we prefer not to discuss genital casting over the phone where young ears might be listening, but ask you to email for advice or information. Please do not ask if we will make an 'exception' for your penis. We're sure it is perfectly lovely, but we don't need to see photos of it, give it marks out of ten or to know your pet name for it. And no, sadly we won't make an exception even if you really ARE a policeman or a member of Parliament or truly genuinely trying to surprise your wife with a romantic gift for her to hang her bracelets on. We are genuinely happy for you that you are so proud of it, but this is one area of casting where we usually have to disappoint you, I’m afraid. If you cast it at home however, we will happily decorate it for you, recast it in precious metals or turn it into an interesting door knocker.
Body casting workshops and training
1) I am interested in becoming a lifecaster. Do you do training courses?
Yes. On occasion, we offer one-to-one training courses. Such training allows you to jump start your learning process and gives you access to tips and techniques based on years of experience, but should not be viewed as 'qualifying' you to cast professionally. At the time of writing this there are NO official qualifications in lifecasting available in the UK. The most important aspect of life casting is to practise, practise, practise until you are both confident AND competent. Each body part comes with it's own safety rules, challenges and tricks to overcome those challenges. A basic course will give you a good overview of not just how to start casting, but also the problems you are likely to face and how to deal with them. For one-to-one casting course (usually two days), the student is usually required to arrange for a friend to model for them for at least one afternoon of the two days. If you wish us to hire a model on your behalf, this can be arranged at extra cost or in exchange for completing the casts for the model within an agreed time frame.
We have criteria for who we will pass our knowledge onto and like to get to know our potential students to make sure you get the best out of your training days with us. For those on a limited budget who cannot afford professional tuition, we encourage you to invest in one or two different casting kits and use them to familiarise yourself with the basic materials and casting techniques by practising on friends or family. Read as much as you can on the subject, and practise as much as you can afford to. NEVER advertise a service when you haven't cast that particular body part before and have the confidence and experience to deal with problems that may occur. Casting is a very safe art form in the right hands, but those who are unaware of or ignore the vital safety considerations can put others at risk. All good quality kits will run through safety rules thoroughly, and this is a strong aspect of any of our training sessions. Please be careful of learning casting through watching YouTube videos as the quality of training available online is extremely variable and not always accurate in terms of safety information. We have seen several videos that are actively promoting methods which could be dangerous and even life threatening to models. If in any doubt, just email us and ask for advice and we will always try to make time to at least cover the basic safety information. We would rather you/your models are safe so although we can't always answer your queries immediately we will help or pass you in the direction of decent help when we can.
If you would like to be considered for our next available training session, or would like further information on a particular aspect of training, then please check out our Training and Workshops page and email us for further information.
2) What Workshops do you offer?
We run sporadic workshops both from my studio and other venues in the south east of England on a number of subjects. Life casting workshops can be very hands on and interactive - like a group mask making or bellymasking workshop; or can be less interactive (i.e. I do all the casting, one at a time, and the workshop attendees either watch or combine the casting day with other activities/socialising while it is not their turn to be cast).
The Female Genital Casting Workshop is ideal to combine with some discussion/activities on the subject matter encouraging women to think more positively about their bodies and their femininity. Your own group leader can host such a gathering with the casting element taking part in a private side room, or we can provide worksheets upon request with suggested activities and discussion topics while others are being cast. or b) It can just be a fun day out or even a hen party event, where everybody brings some yummy food and chocolate, we crank up the music, laugh an awful lot, chat, giggle and compare and contrast the resulting casts with fascination at the end of the day.
The Pregnant Belly Casting Workshop can be worked around a pre-existing group's timetable. This kind of casting can be time consuming and messy, so it's important to have as much time as possible to enjoy the task, but can be combined with a regular coffee-morning type event. We run regular pregnant belly and baby/toddler casting events with teen mum groups and can provide references from Council representatives we have worked for who run these classes/courses for the teen mothers if required. Again, such workshops work best as a side-line to another group activity or discussion meeting so that people do not get bored waiting for their turn and so that any children present are entertained until their turn.
Simple mask making workshops can be arranged using a variety of fun materials. Bear in mind this will involve applying casting materials to the face, and may create a bit of mess. Additional kinds of casting workshop for small classes at the venue of your choice can be arranged. Costs of such events will vary according to location, size of class, age of class, material requirements, and number of classes booked.
Other kinds of creative workshops are in development. Please contact us if you have any requirements.
Face or head casting
1) How do I breathe?
Through your nostrils usually, so it's a good idea not to come with a cold or hay fever! We do not stick straws up your nose as we believe this to be a potentially dangerous method of casting (and it distorts the nostrils...and who wants to be immortalised with giant flared nostrils?!) Instead we work carefully around your nostril area leaving you free to breathe naturally.
2) Does it feel claustraphobic?
Face casting really doesn't feel claustraphobic at all to most people, as the rest of your head and body are free. So it's more like the sort of experience you might have at a spa where you close your eyes and stay still and have nice gentle stuff applied to your face with relaxing music playing. It takes a little trust to have someone working near your nostrils, over your mouth and gently around the eye area but we are very careful, gentle and communicate what we are doing or about to do at all times so nothing takes you by surprise.
Head casting can be a little more challenging to model for as you are in the mould for between 40 minutes and an hour and it is more immersive than a simple face cast as you will have your ears covered as well as your mouth and your eyes. For this reason we tend to play nice relaxing or cheesy tunes in the background so you can focus on something outside of yourself. Some people prefer just to meditate and drift off in their minds to somewhere else. We only perform head casts with two lifecasters present so that there is always someone checking on your breathing and well being throughout the process and so that we can work very quickly and safely throughout. Again, it takes a little trust, but you are the safest of hands with two very experienced lifecasters.
3) I would like to make my own prosthetic appliances or cosplay items. Can you cast my head in something that I can then work on myself?
Absolutely. No problem at all. André comes from a film and television background and can probably give you some helpful tips and information for your project while he is working on your cast.
4) I want to have cosmetic surgery, please can you cast my face/nose/etc first?
Yes. We have worked with many people pre-cosmetic surgery with excellent results. Some clients simply want to record their faces before and after surgery to keep a record of the transformation. Some clients have come to us to help sculpt their 'ideal nose' or chin onto their current face in order to take something 3d and precise to a cosmetic surgeon to communicate exactly what they are hoping to achieve from surgery. Whatever your reasoning, we can usually help you. We have several sculptures on display at Bella Vou cosmetic surgery in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, and we can put our clients in touch with the very nice surgeons there if you would like to talk to someone about your plans and haven't yet selected your surgeon.
5) Can I have my eyes open?
Although there are advanced methods of casting that can be done with open eyes, we do not recommend them for most models. Instead we offer a service to sculpt your eyes open for an additional fee. For this we take many photographs from all different angles as reference and use traditional sculpting methods to recreate your open eyed look.
6) Can you cast my children's faces?
Older, well-behaved children can have their faces cast. It does involve full cooperation so is not suitable for all personality types or ages. The youngest child to have a face cast with us was 6 years old. For children who are cooperative but might be a bit nervous, we suggest half face casts where they can watch with one open eye in a hand held mirror to see what is going on. This helps them relax into the process and produces lovely little casts.
7) Can you use the casts to make masks to fit my face?
Yes. We can do that for you. Bear in mind that any bespoke mask making service will be much more costly than buying a mass-produced mask of any kind on the market.
8) Can you make a more traditional looking bronze bust from my head cast?
Absolutely. No problem at all.
9) Can you cast old people's faces?
As long as they have no health conditions that might be restrictive or dangerous in a casting situation, then absolutely yes. The oldest person we have cast was 90. We have even cast older people to be made into 'human gargoyles' on the outside of buildings!
10) I have a beard/moustache. Can you still cast me?
Yes. We have cast many bearded people safely.
11) I don't want to look bald. Can you cast or sculpt my hair into the sculpture?
Yes. Either. Both. Plus other options too.
Death (memorial) casting
From time to time, we are asked if we are willing and able to conduct death casts - either at funeral directors' establishments, hospitals or hospices. Although we have never previously advertised this side of our work, we have always felt that it was important to us to honour every single moment in life from pregnancy to death and have been doing death casting for over ten years now. We know how hard it can be to find someone in your area to do this kind of challenging and sensitive work, as you cannot simply go to the next company in the phone book if one person turns you away. For this reason, we will always help if we are available. We have also begun to compile a list of experienced lifecasters around the UK and abroad who are able and willing to do death casting, so that if we cannot help you ourselves we can hopefully find someone at short notice who can help in the short window of time you have available to conduct such work. We have worked with many funeral directors and hospices around the South East to cast deceased people of all ages and many different situations. It is difficult, emotionally-intense work, we won't deny it, but when we are called upon to do it we feel very honoured to be trusted with something so incredibly private and important, that will create something of such deep meaning to the bereaved family that will hopefully bring some comfort at such a difficult time. The value of this service to our clients outstrips any personal feelings or challenges about the work that we may deal with. So although we cannot always make ourselves available at short notice to do this kind of casting, we will always do our very best to help you if we can, or know someone who can in our place. As the nature of the work involves being called out to work 'on site' and working as a pair, we do have a minimum call out charge, but we do offer payment plans for those people who may need them. Most death casts are completed in real bronze or cold cast metals to enable you to touch them as much as you need to without fear of damage or wear, but we do offer a simple plaster casting service and even simple but beautiful hand print option. We work with other artisans who can arrange finger print jewellery to be made and other bespoke options. We can even arrange for some of your loved one's ashes to be placed into the cast should you wish (this needs to be arranged in advance of the secondary moulding stage). If you would like to see some of the beautiful lifecasts we have created of those who have passed on, please see the appropriate gallery.