Monday, February 4, 2013

The Custom Made Plaster Cast Dress Form (1812 style)... Part 1

It all started with my very first workshop about a year and a half ago: my 1770's gown ( made at a Burnley and Trowbridge summer workshop in Aug 2011). It was so awesome. I went with a friend so we paired up as draping partners and were able to drape to our forms as an 18th century mantua maker would have done.  The gown so well fitted and I love the way I feel when I wear it. This started an addiction...

I next attended a workshop on devilish details, an 1812 corset workshop, an 18th century stays workshop, and coming up soon- an 18th century breeches workshop. (Not to mention the number of workshops I plan to take in the future!)

The more I decide I want to do things in as much of the period manner as possible, the more I am enjoying what I make and the more I want to make more! This venture often leads me down some pretty interesting paths to achieve my desires. ... read on for the first really crazy (or cool, if you're me) thing I've done this year for the sake of authenticity.

The Inspiration:
Waterloo 2015 is coming and I've nothing to put over that 1812 corset! I need to make some regency wear, and I'd like to make a change or two of clothes for my 18th century persona, also. Alas, I have no draping partner here, nor a workshop to attend to obtain one. Enter a little bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of here's hoping this works!

Me in a JC Penny bag over my 1812 corset
and covered in plaster bandages! (I cut
out my face because this was my "put the
camera away and cut me out or die" face...)
More pics to come...
The Crazy (Cool):
I decided to make a plaster cast of myself in my 1812 undies. That's right. I'd read quite a few tutorials online for DIY dress forms using this method and having better results than the duct tape or packing tape form, so I figured- Why not? My other option was to find some way to build a full size replica of myself that would act like skin and bone so that I could put my period undergarments on the form and it would squish into them just like me, or of getting my body scanned in a 3-D scanner wearing the undergarments for each of the time periods I portray.. After a lot of research (ballistics gel, skeletal structures, facilities with 3-D scanning capabilities, etc.) I figured that sounded like waaaay to much time/work/money.

I needed a better solution. Quick.

So I got plastered. Literally.

It really didn't take as long as I thought it would. The whole process start to finish was maybe 3 hours. It was relatively painless and I think my helpers actually had fun. (Special thank you to my husband and mother-in-law for their helping hands.)

My form has been curing for seven days now and I am ready to smooth out the inside with some plaster of Paris. This way when I fill with foam it will have a smoother finish (less sanding later on?). I'm going to work on creating a stand for it this week, so that I can cast the foam mold this weekend.

Once the foam cures around the stand I can take off the mold and VOILA! I'll sand her smooth and create a classy looking cover--maybe top her off with some neck and shoulder caps.

And then the fun part begins as I start draping my Regency wardrobe on a replica of myself.

Here's hoping this works!

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I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts on all this, so please feel welcome to comment here :-)