On paper, making a cast sounds so straightforward – take a mould, fill it with plaster and hey presto – you’ve got your plaster cast!
We’d really love it to be as simple as that, but actually, there’s so much more to creating a cast that someone will treasure for a lifetime. Over 10 years of casting thousands of hands and feet (and the occasional baby bottom) has taught us all the secrets that make a Tootsie Toes cast the extraordinary thing it is.
It all begins with the alginate moulding material. Every good cast begins life as a good mould. And because you can only make one cast from an alginate mould, it’s got to be right.
All those years of experience allow our head craftswoman to know immediately if a mould will produce a beautiful cast. All she has to do is look at the newly moulded hand or foot to know if it’s going to be good enough for shape, quality and robustness. If it doesn’t pass the test, another mould is taken on the spot.
Once back at the workshop, it’s time to fill the mould with liquid plaster. But even that apparently simple procedure requires great skill and patience. For example, the plaster must be mixed very gently to avoid creating air bubbles. Then there’s the consistency of the plaster mixture itself, which varies according to the size and type of mould. It’s always a unique situation which calls for the complete attention of the craftsperson.
Several hours later and the plaster has set. It’s time to peel away the alginate mould to reveal the cast. Once that’s done, the cast is painstakingly inspected to identify any slight distortions or imperfections in the plaster.
This is when you’re aware that our business is a craft as well as an art, because there’s always a little something to fix, adjust or correct. The skill is in knowing what to repair, what to leave untouched and how to preserve all the detail in the process.
Once perfected, the cast must be cropped to fit on one of our Italian moulding frames, or to be a freestanding sculpture. But where to crop? Making the crop at the wrong place ruins the look and feel of the cast completely. Great care is taken to enhance the natural aesthetic qualities of the cast when cropping.
That’s where our unique cropping process comes into its own. No other company crops their framed casts as we do. It’s the hardest way to do it, but the best possible technique for preserving all the detail and creating an incredibly natural, elegant finish.
Is that it? Well, not quite. We have our secrets! We could talk about how we create our unique colour finishes, or how to make a perfect hand cast with rings and bracelets included. We could even say a little something about how to ensure any cast is cropped to fit in our frames…but that would be telling!