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Henna belly drawings celebrate pregnancy

November 20, 2010
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer

NEGAUNEE - Jodi Haight was just a few weeks away from giving birth to her first child and wanted to do something to celebrate her pregnancy.

A few months before, she and her husband, Matt, had been walking the grounds at the Escanaba State Fair when Jodi spotted a henna booth.

"When I realized they did belly 'tattoos' I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said.

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At the time, in mid-August, Haight was about five months pregnant.

"I knew I wanted to wait to get it done when I could really put it out there," she laughed. "So I waited until I was eight months pregnant."

When she was ready, Haight, who now lives in Escanaba, contacted the artist who had the henna booth. That artist, Kristianna Harris Pfaffle, lives in Gwinn, so the two made a plan to do the henna work at the Negaunee home of Haight's parents, Jim and Vicki Massey.

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In her parents' living room, Haight sat in a recliner while Pfaffle gently brushed on the henna. Haight had picked a tree as the design she wanted and slowly, the pattern emerged.

"The baby was moving around quite a bit while I was getting the 'tattoo' so I am not sure what he thought was going on," said Haight, who is having a boy. Her due date is Dec. 10.

For Pfaffle, doing henna work has been a joy.

"I kind of got into it by accident. I like the traditional styles of henna and found out it's something that people do in the U.S. nowadays," Pfaffle said. "Since I started I have been doing a lot of henna on feet and on hands.

"And lots of bellies," she said. "It's a new way to celebrate pregnancy."

Pfaffle said people are making a big deal about their pregnancies.

"And they should. They are finding different ways to celebrate," she said. "So I do the henna work at baby showers or at blessing ceremonies, wherever they'd like."

Haight said she knew all along she wanted a tree for her design. She loved the final product, which incorporated her belly ring into the pattern.

Pfaffle said she has a design book that she's always adding to which gives people an idea of the types of art they can select.

"If they give me enough notice, I can usually work up just about anything they want," she said.

To make the designs, Pfaffle uses only natural henna.

"That's a reddish brown color," she said. "It's what I always use because it's safe. People ask me about 'black henna' but that's not really henna at all and lots of people are allergic to it."

Most months, Pfaffle does at least a couple of belly "tattoos."

"Right now, I am getting ready to do a woman and her friend who are both pregnant," she said. "So two bellies at one time."

The henna work can be done just about anyplace on the body, but some spots are better than others.

"Henna will stain just about anywhere, but it stains better on the hands and the feet, where the skin is thicker," she said.

A belly "tattoo" lasts about two weeks, with other drawings lasting anywhere from one to four weeks.

"It tends to last longer on the feet and legs than other parts," Pfaffle said. "It depends upon how active a person is and a lot of factors how long the art lasts."

For Haight, the belly "tattoo" stayed for about 2 weeks.

"Some people thought it was great. Older people thought it was, well, different," Haight said. "Matt liked it, but he thought it was different, too.

"I am so happy I did it," she said. "I took a lot of photos and will always have those. It's a keepsake, for sure."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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