WHILE photographs and videos to capture life’s key moments are now commonplace, there are a few in the city who prefer getting a clay mould made, especially to mark occasions like the arrival of a baby or something equally momentous. And Ranjana Singh, a clay moulding expert trained in Dubai, caters to such requirements with clay moulds of newborns’ hands or feet.
After getting a phone call, confirming the birth of a child, she hurries to the hospital where the baby is to make 3D moulds of the hands and feet of the newborn. Equipped with setting gel, clay and other paraphernalia, Singh sets to work. She begins by dipping the hands of the child in the gel, allowing them to set for a minute before taking them out and pouring in clay that takes the shape of the baby’s hands.
The entire procedure takes as little as 20 minutes. Once made, the moulds are decorated or left in the crude form to suit the client’s needs. These moulds are then neatly packaged into frames of different shapes and sizes ready to be delivered.
“The 3D moulds serve as keepsakes for people who wish to do something unique in order to capture memories. This art form is slowly picking up in Mumbai, as people across age groups want clay moulds to be made,” she said.
Singh, who has an experience of nine years, operates from Ageless Medica, Powai.
Her house in Bhandup serves as the manufacturing unit. Singh’s clientele is varied and she says she made clay moulds recently for cricketer Jonty Rhodes’ newborn. Wearing many hats, Singh is also a belly casting expert.
A belly cast is a 3D structure of a pregnant woman’s abdomen.
The casts are made by preparing the skin with a coating of lubricant and adding wet strips over the abdomen. Similar to clay moulds, these casts can be adorned with embellishments or simply given a wash of gold paint. Often made at the later stage of pregnancy, these casts form a part of the clay moulding and belly casting package that Singh offers.
The moulds and casts form an eccentric gifting option. Hinal Sanghvi, a resident of Charni Road, said, “I first came across this art form on social media. I thought a clay mould of my niece’s hands and feet would make for an interesting gift on her first birthday. Her parents were pleasantly surprised on seeing the outcome and thanked me for introducing them to this craft.”
Some also prefer making clay moulds of their loved ones who are terminally ill as it is something they can hold on to after their demise. “In 2013, I informed Ranjana at the eleventh hour of my desire to get a clay mould made of my bed-ridden grandmother. She agreed to help me out and I’m the proud owner of a clay mould of my grandmother’s hands that even traces her palm and finger impressions. It makes me feel closer to my grandmom,” said Ratnamala More.