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Getting Artsy With Pregnant Bellies 

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When you're pregnant, nine months can feel like an eternity. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it goes by in an instant. Want to immortalize the experience? We talked with three local artists whose work gives women a way to remember their pregnancies long after baby is born.

Belly Henna

Rebecca Freedner has been creating designs with henna — a natural paste made from the ground leaves of the henna plant — for 10 years. But she had to work up to adorning pregnant bellies. It's "technically much more challenging" to apply the designs to curved tummies than to hands and feet, Freedner says. The Vergennes-based artisan does private appointments in her studio and travels to baby showers and blessingways, where she does henna for mothers-to-be and their guests. "I absolutely love spending time with women during such a profound time in their life," she says. The process, which Freedner describes as "an incredibly relaxing and nurturing experience," starts with drawing a custom design with henna paste squeezed through a hand-rolled cone made from cellophane. When the paste is dry, she covers it with a breathable gauze tape for protection and to hold it in place. After several hours, the tape is removed and it pulls off the paste, leaving a bright orange stain that gradually turns brown. Freedner says many women like to take photos of their belly art. She advises waiting two days to schedule a photo shoot, at which point the henna will have darkened.

For more information, visit heartfirehenna.com. Freedner charges $80 per hour for henna application at her studio and $95 per hour for private parties, with a two-hour minimum.

Belly Painting

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Body painter Kadina Malicbegovic has a convenient canvas to practice her work on these days: her own skin. Malicbegovic is in her second trimester of pregnancy, and, with the help of her partner, she does weekly belly-painting challenges in front of the mirror. She also offers private belly-painting sessions for couples in their homes or her studio, which she says is a great way to create special memories and bond with your partner. While enjoying music and snacks, couples work with her to create a meaningful belly design using water-based paints made for the skin. As part of the package, Malicbegovic takes photos of the finished product. The skin artist, who came to Vermont from Bosnia as a refugee and studied psychology at the University of Vermont, also hosts belly-painting parties at Burlington childbirth-services studio Birth Journeys and travels to baby showers. She likens belly painting to wearing jewelry or expressive clothing. It allows women to "celebrate pregnancy in a unique way," she says.

Malicbegovic charges $85 for a private one-hour belly-painting session, and $150 for a two-hour session, including photographs. Find out more about her services at littleartsyfaces.com. On Saturday, June 18, from 6-8 p.m., Malicbegovic will host a belly-painting party at Birth Journeys for $35 per mama, plus a guest. Find event info on her website.

Belly Bowls

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Potter Jen Labie creates one-of-a-kind pieces in her Ferrisburgh studio. But six years ago, when a friend was pregnant, she truly broke the mold. Labie stretches clay over third-trimester bellies to form it into bowls that are both functional and sentimental. Her clients choose colors and surface textures, and, when the little one arrives, Labie carves the baby's name and birth date into the bottom before firing it. There's a rewarding perk to delivering the bowls: She gets to meet lots of newborn babies. "I really fell in love with it because I love doing custom pieces," Labie says of working with inspiring baby bellies. "You can't get more custom than that."

To see Labie's belly bowls, visit leaningtreepottery.com. A belly bowl appointment in Labie's studio costs $185 and includes two bowls.

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