Baby Casting: DIY v The Professionals

I decided to write a post about why I believe buying a DIY 3D casting kit is a false economy.  Even before I was involved with Precious Memories, I would have advised against a DIY cast, having attempted it with Bean when he was 2 months old.

So, first of all, what is included in a kit?  The contents of the kit varies depending on price and where you buy it from, but at the very least you can expect to get the alginate (which is used to make the mould), casting medium to make the cast and a bag to make the mould in.  With some kits you will also get some or all of the following: paint, frame, stirrers, glue.  All will include instructions, which in my experience, will not be nearly comprehensive enough.

The alginate has to be mixed with water and then put in the casting container (a bag in the case of most kits) where you will the put the hand or foot and wait for the alginate to set. Sounds easy right?  Except that these instructions don’t take into account the tendency of little ones to wriggle and jiggle during this time, and they don’t tell you how to make sure you still get a good mould despite this.  In my own experience with a DIY kit, it’s a very stressful activity.  It took us several attempts to get a mould we were happy with.  It was not the joyous, happy occasion we had envisaged!

If, using a kit, you manage to get a mould you are happy with and your mental faculties are still intact, you may think the hard work is done.  Unfortunately, getting a good mould does not guarantee a good cast, and the kits don’t explain how to make sure you do get a good cast.  The difficulty of achieving this is, in part, dependent on what your little cherub decided to do with their fingers and toes whilst in the alginate – and no-one but a fool would try and orchestrate that!

However, let us assume you have got a mould good enough to use, without running out of the alginate provided, and you have managed to create a good cast from this (if not, you’ll have to go back to the beginning, because the mould has to be broken to get the cast out).  What now?  Your kit may have provided you with paint and this would be the time to get painting.  Except that doing so will not help you achieve a great looking cast like the one on the kit box.  Because what none of the kits include are the tools needed to get that look.  To get that look, the ankle or wrist need to be finished off.  The kit might tell you that this can be achieved with a bit of sandpaper but the truth is, your little one could be graduating before you manage it.

Some of the kits also include glue for mounting the casts once you’ve finished them.  But they don’t tell you that in order to mount them securely, you need a flat surface – something else you can’t achieve with the materials included in the kit.

Even now though, I don’t think I’ve really managed to portray the stress levels involved in taking a cast of your own children if you have no experience of doing it.  It will likely take more attempts to do than you have been given materials for, meaning that you end up buying more alginate and casting medium and going through the whole process again.

Compare this to paying for it to be done professionally.  You could pay as little as £30 more than the cost of a kit (depending on what you choose), and the stress is taken away from you.  The mould is created by someone who has been trained and is experienced in making them – they know how to cope when your little one doesn’t stay still and how to get a good mould first time (most of the time – we all have times when it takes more than one attempt!).  Importantly, they know what they are doing and so won’t feel stressed doing it – stress that isn’t passed on to your child.  Having got the mould, they know the tricks involved in making sure the cast is great – no missing fingers or toes!

And they have the tools to finish the job.  The pictures you see on a casting kit are simply not achievable with the tools in the kit – making the ankle or wrist (where the hand or foot enters the alginate) neat, getting a good surface to secure the cast to back board of the frame – these need serious tools like band saws, belt sanders and drills; not the kind of tools provided in the kits, or the kind of tools most parents would be comfortable using on these precious casts after going to all the trouble of creating them!

Paying a professional to do the job for you takes the pressure off you and means you know you’ll get casts you’ll be proud to display for years to come.  At Precious Memories, we also give you the option of having silicone moulds created of your casts.  This means that should you decide to have another frame made, we do not need to make new moulds.  It also means that should anything happen to your frame (perhaps the removal company weren’t as careful with it as you’d hoped when you moved house?) we can create a new one for you – no matter what age your child is, we can give you back those baby hands and feet!

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