When I heard Valerie was pregnant I was so excited. She would just be showing by the conference, and I knew I'd have a gorgeous little belly to use for the Pregnancy Henna class and demonstration. She was the perfect model. We did a small asymmetrical floral pattern (on right), with plans to meet up again in a few months when she was rounder.
Well, the months flew by and Val got rounder and rounder, and we still hadn't met up for henna part 2 yet! Late last Monday I got a text from my sister. "Do Val's Belly!" We jumped into high gear, set up the appointment for Friday, delayed it until Sunday, then actually did it on Monday while Carrie was seeing Eddie Izzard. Yes, I was jealous, but I got to hang out with Mike, Val, and their blue pup Merc, so it all evens out.
Every time I do a belly, I'm always amazed at how active the baby becomes, and Val was no exception. Wriggling and rolling, kicking and dancing, those babies move! It can become uncomfortable for the expecting mothers, and is certainly a challenge for any artist to work on such a dynamic surface, but it also makes for lots of giggling and laughing while spending an evening among friends.
The design we settled on is a Turkish inspired design from my research on the Iznik tiles of the Ottoman Empire. We used stylized chrysanthemums and peacock feathers to create a symmetrical, yet organic, design. While mandalas always seem the obvious choice, centered on the belly button, I prefer to work higher up on the tummy so the new Mom can enjoy her belly henna without twisting about in the mirror. With this in mind, I tend to go back to arabesque shapes as my starting point. Their elegant curves and natural elements complement the roundness of a pregnant belly, without being limited by it. Arabesques are so romantic and have a wonderful feeling of growth and life as their tendrils curve around. And while I enjoy working with each mother to find her own personal style and meaning for her henna, it was fun to have Val choose exactly what I felt like doing!
I wrapped Mama Val up with fabric tape, feeling like I was in a sparring match with the Karate Kid in her belly, hugged Papa Mike, and gave some cuddles to puppy Merc. Val had strict instructions to stay cozy, stay dry, and stay pregnant (!) until we could meet up for pictures. Thankfully, she followed my instructions to a T and we were able to meet up again for a little photo-shoot and painting extravaganza!
For the photoshoot, I painted Val's belly with Henna Caravan Mica powders and Liquid Lacquer. These are washable with soap and water and are very gentle for momma and baby, while adding a wonderful bit of color and subtle shimmer. Just mix a bit of the lacquer with a bit of mica in a palette (or mica lid) and gently brush on with a good set of brushes- make up or watercolor brushes work best. It only takes a minute to dry, and looks amazing when complete. We went full-color for Val, but one or two colors could also be used to add just a bit of pizazz to your henna for special events.
Thanks, Val, for being a beautiful model, and Mike for letting us invade your home with sparkles! We know what a risk that can be.