Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

As a result of all the different things going on with my body, not to mention our financial situation, finding clothes for me to wear can be really difficult. For some time now, I’ve been strongly considering starting to make my own clothes. In order to do a better job of this, I’ve been wanting to make a bodyform out of my own body shape.

I’ve been looking up different ways of creating one. There are tons of ideas out there, including ones using plaster, duct tape, insulation form, all sorts of ideas. I decided to combine all of these different ideas in the hopes of creating something fantastic.

At the same time as doing mine, I decided to also make one for Alyssa. For all that people give her lots of clothes, there are some pieces that she has always wanted but couldn’t afford. I thought it would be fun to also have a form of her shape, so that I could potentially make them for her.

I decided to start with hers, and while I suspected this might be the case for some time not, I finally had to admit defeat. Her bodyform was a disaster. First we ran out of tape. Then the foam wouldn’t set. Then the top foam sank into the foam that wouldn’t set. Then the whole thing ended up very tilted. Finally, the plaster would not stop crumbling and the whole thing finally fell apart today resulting in a dusty and crumbly mess.

Still, every failure brings with it a lesson, which I decided to share with you.

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You will need more than one roll of duct tape.

Alyssa is tiny! She might be taller than me, but she has a tiny waist, lovely flat stomach. So imagine my surprise when it turned out that one whole roll of duct tape was not enough to completely cover her. We improvised in the moment using leftover packing tape and painters tape, neither of which hold their share nearly as well. Still, we managed to get a form that had Alyssa’s basic shape.

Later, I used a bunch of new duct tape to reinforce the places where we had had to resort to other paint types. Pick up at least 3 rolls of tape. Two will go to actually covering your bodyform, and the last one will be used to patch holes that might appear and if you need to do any mending.

Use spray foam meant for large gaps and cracks. It will inflate more. 

Another surprise was that two cans of foam insulation were not enough. Now there are two reasons why this turned out to be the case, but regardless of that fact I think it is safe to assume that it just wasn’t enough. I didn’t think it mattered which type of foam I was using since it wasn’t a matter of trying to glue things together, but of just filling the available space. As it turns out, it does matter and the stuff for big gaps is best. It inflates the most and you won’t need as many cans of the stuff overall.

Make Sure you Tape up Every Hole. 

Foam will squeeze through any opening. You want to make sure you don’t have any separations between the pieces of tape. Once you are reaching the top of the form, you also want to cover up the arm holes, and the neck holes.

If you can, try to find something solid to make up the middle.

It can be Styrofoam, or wood, or a smaller bodyform, it doesn’t entirely matter. Having a more solid center helps keep the thing stable and also fills up some of the space that you would otherwise need foam for. Don’t plan on ever getting the item back.

Spray each layer of foam with water or it won’t set and it won’t rise.

Apparently it is water that gives the foam its rise and solidifies it. When you are working with walls there is enough moving air around to provide that water, but in an enclosed space like this the water can’t reach the deeper layers of the foam. You want to work in layers. Spray the inside of the form with oil so the foam won’t stick to the tape. Then, cover that oil with water on every surface before you start spraying. You want to fill a layer at the bottom, not too think, but it doesn’t have to be super thin. Use a spray bottle and douse that layer with water, then apply the nest layer. Spray with water, and so forth and so forth.

You want to give each can of foam a little bit of time to rise before you start on the next layer. I would say 20 minutes minimum but if you can try to hold out for about an hour. When you are filling spaces like breasts, don’t forget to spray the layers from the surface of the boob inward. Otherwise you will end up with solid bodyform except for one still squishy tit and end up having to rid up some sort of water hypodermic needle that you can use to inject water into that one stubborn boob.

Fill Every Nook and Cranny!

It you leave too many empty spaces that the foam doesn’t fill, the plaster will end up having weak spots with empty air, where it crumbles when you try to sand it. By filling it all up carefully, you will end up with a much better shape and a better bodyform.

Streamers are NOT a replacement for bandages.

As I’m sure comes as no surprise to our regular readers, money is an important consideration seeing as we don’t have a lot of it. For this reason I opted to buy regular plaster of Paris rather than the plaster strips from an art store. The site I was using as a base for how to make these, recommended buying bandages, that you could use in the same way that you would the strips. I couldn’t find a good source of these bandages though, and those that I could find were prohibitively expensive. I tried to come up with a different idea. That’s when I saw the dollar roles of streamers. I figured they were basically paper, and it would be like papier machee but with plaster. I would cover them in plaster which would harden as it dried. The paper would work as a stabilizing influence in the meantime right? WRONG.

The streamers somehow retained water from the plaster, which in turn never dried properly. The paper in turn was so thin that when wet it would tear if you looked at it funny! I stopped using the streamers after about one layer when I realized how unsuited they were to the process. However that one layer somehow held onto that moisture for the whole weak, ultimately weakening the whole.

Plaster gets everywhere!

If you can, cover the walls and floors completely or you will spend a lot of time on your hands and knees getting it out of the floors. A lot of the plaster will end up on the floor, covering any nearby furniture. On your feet, on your pets, pretty much everywhere within distance. Also, plan on wearing something that you don’t care if it gets completely ruined. It will. You can try to get the clothes back by breaking off as much as possible with a hammer, and then soaking it in vinegar for hours before washing it in the washing machine.

Cover your hands with Vaseline. This will protect them from the plaster which sucks up any moisture it encounters. Also make sure something is covering your eyes like glasses or safety goggles. You really don’t want plaster in your eyes. And wear a mask, at least when working with the plaster in powdered form.

If you decide to Use Spackle, Make sure it’s the kind you can sand.

Here I was all excited because I had come up with the perfect solution to fixing those pesky cracks and holes that had developed in the plaster. I would use spackle. At the hardware store, they had this lightweight option, which seemed like a great idea! It wouldn’t be hard to carry and wouldn’t weigh down the form too much. Except I didn’t pay close enough attention to what it said about sanding. Once it dried I went to try and sand everything smooth, only to discover that it was peeling off of the forms. I ended up having to put an entire new coat of plaster overtop and I still ended up with a few problem areas.

Plaster Dries FAST!

Ridiculously fast. It will be completely liquid as you are picking it up to rub onto the form. Then will be like thick cream the next handful, mostly solid-ish by the next, basically clay with the next one, and almost too dry to use with the next.

Make the plaster in small batches. Use a container you don’t mind tossing out when you are done. I had a big bucket of water next to me and basically made little batches at a time after the first batch dried so fast that chunk of plaster ended up being completely unusable.

My own bodyform seems to be working out. I am most of the way to done, and I plan on sharing the results once I am completely done. I will try again with Alyssa’s someday. If we ever have money. But in the meantime, I will just use her body as the form.

Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

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