Art by Rebecca Barkley
When I was expecting, I was given a belly cast kit. Now obviously I love to be creative and I especially love to try new things, and making a belly cast was certainly something I hadn’t done before.
Naturally I began to research ideas on the internet where I found many beautiful pieces. But to be completely honest, the idea of having a life size sculpture of my body 20kgs heavier, pregnant, in the nude, on display.. just isn’t really my cup of tea! So I had a good look around for alternatives.
I came across an adorable photo of a tiny baby nestled inside her mother’s belly cast. Too cute! I had to do it!
At 38 weeks we made the cast, it was like a big, slightly odd shaped bowl. 4 weeks later, (12 days past his due date..) Oscar finally arrived! He was only 3 days old when I took these photos. He barely fit!
He had that frown for weeks! Aww..
I was happy with the photos and I thought the belly cast was a great idea. Then after a while it was forgotten about and at some point I ended up putting my small collection of cotton reels into it. I figured if it was going to be used as a bowl then I may as well pretty it up a bit. Back to the drawing board.. how to decorate it?
Tip: When it comes to decorating something like this for your home, it helps to really think about what it is that you like personally and what would suit your style.
I quite like earthy, organic and rustic decor so I decided to try and create a seed pod inspired bowl, with a golden centre.. to add a bit of shiny and because I had some brilliant metallic paints I wanted to play with. I also happened to have some gold leaf that I’d never tried before so now seemed like a good time.
First things first was to prepare the plaster cast. It was incredibly lumpy and rough so the first thing I did was coat it with some home made gesso. It’s really easy and cheap to make at home, you can find the instructions here.
I painted a few coats letting it dry overnight for each layer. Then I sanded like mad. Someone walking by (I was sitting out the front) saw me and commented on my ‘turtle shell’. It does look a bit like a turtle shell. I sanded away to get it smooth but I also intended on keeping it uneven and slightly bumpy to give it a natural look.
When I was satisfied I got right into painting it. I used acrylics to paint the inside gold and the outside dark brown. I painted a few coats, as you do. Then I had one of those wonderful moments where you make a mistake that turns into something awesome. I love those! I accidentally smeared brown paint on the inside so I blended it with the gold and I thought it turned out pretty neat! So I went with it.
When it was completely dry I put some gold leaf in the bottom of the bowl.
To add some depth and bring out the texture on the exterior I lightly brushed over the brown with some metallic bronze paint.
Looks even more like a turtle shell now.
In the end, I’m really happy with it. I like that it’s sentimental and useful. And it’s subtle. It’s a shame you won’t really see the gold in the bottom though because it wont take me long to fill it with random things again.