SarahKate's Blog

Enjoy a magical trip through the imagination of SarahKate and the women she paints.

  •  The idea of postpartum henna has fascinated me for years! I first read about the idea in Catherine Cartwright Jones article over 12 years ago and decided to start creating this kind of work myself. The image below is from 10 years ago!

      The article begins:
      "Hennaing a woman after she gives birth is a traditional way to deter the malevolent spirits that cause disease, depression, and por bonding with her infant. The action of applying henna to a mother after childbirth, particularly her feet, keeps her from getting up to resume housework!" 

      Women have been doing this for each other, in some form or another, for thousands of years. It was wonderful to celebrate pregnancy with henna, and there was something really something special about celebrating with women once they were on the other side of this massive life transformation. 

      This photo (above) is from a recent postpartum celebration that happened this winter. I traveled to this new family's home and spent about 3 hours adorning the new Mother and Father, and also both grandmothers. They returned to the studio for more photos after a few days for more photos. This is the same couple that celebrated their pregnancy - see photos of that here


      I am one artist recreating the tradition to the best of my ability, but it's really inspiring to take a look at how other cultures do this. I saw this video and just watching it, knowing women are treated with this kind of respect after birth, really filled my heart with joy.  This is how women deserve to be treated after the massive transformation into Mother! (photos of video above & below)

      To see other postpartum celebrations I've done, check out these blog posts:

      Newborn henna celebration  and another mama  and one more mama.

      A few weeks old 

      One mama celebrates both pregnancies and both postpartum periods with henna!

      To see more of my postpartum henna art work, check out my books! I have 6 volumes that showcase the ART of honoring pregnancy and postpartum!  

      I also wrote a few Postpartum Articles for Artfull Mother Magazine:

    Fall 2015
    Spring 2016 issue 

      Postpartum henna is something that happens (traditionally) in the first few days or weeks after birth. However, some women give birth wearing their pregnancy henna, which is a different kind of special art!

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update. 

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Testimonial

    "You are so gifted SarahKate! And it's such a joy to be on the receiving end of your positivity, calm manner and stunning art."


    Posted by   SarahKate

  •  In 2008 I began my pregnancy art project, inspired by henna traditions practiced by women during the 8th month as well as postpartum in the rural regions in India. I had read about these traditions in Catherine Cartwright Jones's book, The Functions of Childbirth and Postpartum Henna Traditions

    After celebrating their pregnancy with henna, I offered to come to women's homes in the first month after birth and create our own version of the postpartum ritual, often hennaing their hand(s) and arm(s) while their baby was asleep in their lap. I would return to photograph these new mothers in their home and after a couple years of doing this, I asked if I could also photograph them while they nursed their baby. The first mama to really get into this and have me come to her home several times was Kala (in 2010), her photos are above. 

    I continued photographing breastfeeding mamas after applying postpartum henna. Women loved it! It was only a matter of time before someone asked me to do a new kind of postpartum henna, what I would start calling breastfeeding henna. Verna (above on right) was one of my first models for this new kind of art. 

    Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, natural act to witness. It fills me with appreciation for motherhood, especially the mother I'm photographing. I love honoring this phase in life. Here are some images of this type of work done in 2018. 

    Below are a couple example of this art that I've done in 2019:

    I was so excited to share this kind of art with the world that our first issue of Artfull Mother magazine focused on Breastfeeding! See more back issues here, they are all free to read.

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update. 

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Common Question: Do you have to be pregnant or breastfeeding to get henna from  SarahKate?
    Answer: No! I adorn women in all stages of life. The photos below are of women with either no children or grown children. 

    My Sacred Feminine Art Project has been going on several years now and I have really enjoyed exploring how the medium of henna & photography empowers women. I do plan to create a book in the 2020s with all the best photos (many of which are nude and will not be posted online). This book will include pregnant and breastfeeding mamas as well as all other stages of life. 

    I adorn women wherever they wish, often as a chest piece but I have done many thighs as well. For some of these sessions women lie nude in my heated studio while I adorn chest and belly with jewel like henna. 

    This art project includes women of all ages, and I have celebrated with many grandmothers. What a pleasure to hear their stories as they sit in my special henna chair. There is a reason that stage of life is often called the Wise Woman years. 

    Contact me if you'd like to get on my list for receiving art updates!

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Henna for both pregnancies, 2 years apart

    I first met this amazing mama in 2017 when she was celebrating her first pregnancy. There was a request for a peacock in a tree, an unborn baby, and the universe for her first henna design. The 2nd design, done this week, involved an elephant, turtle, her dog, moon & stars. I love the ideas women bring me! 

    Her dear young daughter and partner came in for photos when the henna was peaking in color and we got some sweet shots. How precious!

    I love photographing the henna designs close up. I mix up my henna paste by hand and include only natural ingredients, henna leaf powder, essential oil, lemon and sugars. 

    My hand made henna dries dark brown but it is not the dangerous "black henna" that you may have read about. This fake "henna" includes ridiculously dangerous chemicals that can cause terrible skin burns that can scar for life. Unfortunately this factory produced chemical "henna" is labeled "100% natural" and is sold in Indian grocery stores, Walmart, etc. Please be safe and only use hand made natural henna paste! If you need a good source just contact me and I'd be happy to sell some of my own henna or direct you to a website with trusted henna powder/paste. 

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Celebrating pregnancy as a family

    Today in the studio I photographed this lovely family! It's always so amazing to see how a child wants to interact with his mama's belly. This dear one was a pleasure to capture mid-kiss! 

    I loved the mala this mama had made in her Sacred Pregnancy group and we found some other purple silky things to bring it out. Celebrating pregnancy with this unique style of body art and photography is a deep passion of mine! 

    Below is a photo when the henna was freshly applied.

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Last December I had a really special couple come in to celebrate pregnancy together with henna. When we first start talking about her appointment, this lovely new mama looked online for inspiration and found an image of a woman and husband covered in body paint, with a tree that grew over the mama's belly and over the dad's arm as he held her from behind, with his arm covering her breasts. It was gorgeous how the branches of the tree connected solidly from the mama's belly to the dad's arm and then back to the mama's chest. 

      I listened to her other ideas for design elements... there were many that we explored! We incorporated a sense of dahlias, tiny baby footprints and the swirling flower element she's seen in my earlier work on my website. Below is some photos that inspired this work, it's from 2012! I remember this mama fondly... she was planning to name her daughter Zinnia and wanted me to cover her belly and chest in zinnias. 

      I loved how this henna ended up connecting this couple, an artistic representation of their growing bond, their growing family. So wonderful to get to know them and witness their deep love for each other. 

      They were also pretty creative in the photo session! We went through a bunch of poses ... it's really fun to keep changing colors and trying new ideas.

      The couple returned a few days later when the henna was peaking in color and we had another photo shoot. The weather was pretty cold that week so all the photos were taken inside, where it was warm enough for some shots with less silks involved.... photos to remember! 

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update. 

    Posted by   SarahKate