KOCHI: Keeping the clothes and toys of newborns as keepsakes is a common practice among parents. They hold memories the first everything from birth to smile, and the sleepless nights. And now, with time, a new kind of keepsake has emerged. Many new parents are interested in preserving the very essence of parenthood, especially motherhood, with DNA jewellery and frames. Kerala’s first DNA keepsake artist, as claimed by 24-year-old Thasleema P N, says she found the art on social media.
“Preserving the umbilical cord, first hair, milk teeth, and breast milk in the form of jewellery is an ongoing trend, many women are fond of it,” says Thasleema, who runs her venture Ma Halib Keepsakes on Instagram. “When I saw how beautiful and meaningful the artworks are, I immediately started my page,” the Thrissur native explains. “Ma- means mother in Hindi, and Halib means milk in Arabic. So I combined both these languages and named my venture.”
The self-taught artist launched her page in August 2022 and became a hit among Keralites who were new to the concept. Her works have been doing rounds on social media both for the novel concept and the unexpected charm of her creations. “I learnt the technique from YouTube. Since it was a new concept among the Kerlaities, I received criticism from older citizens, as they considered it “impure.” At the same time, enquiries came from expecting mothers and my friends who wanted to preserve and cherish memories of their motherhood,” Thasleema says.
“From day one of the pregnancy, a mother and a child are connected through the umbilical cord. That connection remains for nine months. In my perspective, it’s not impure,” she adds. “I started my page in August last year with the support of my husband and friends. First I experimented by making jewellery such as pendants, rings, earrings, etc., primarily using breast milk. Later, I explored the possibilities of making a frame consisting of the umbilical cord, breastmilk, hair, teeth, and nails of the babies. All these elements remind me of the first bond between a mother and a child,” she says. Soon, she started working on customised items for her clients.
The mompreneur, as she identifies herself, now receives orders from overseas as well as across the country. “Also, recently I received a request from a customer asking to create a keepsake item using her mother’s hair. Her mother had passed away due to cancer. She has a few hair strands from her mother, who lost most during chemotherapy. I was able to customise a beautiful accessory for her,” she says.
Thasleema says most of the orders are for breast milk pendants and rings. “However, all products are made based on customer requirements, hence each one of them is different and unique.”
Thasleema explains that there is a packaging procedure when shipping breastmilk. For the making of any keepsake accessories, only 5 to 10 ml of breastmilk is required. It must be packed in zip-lock pouches to avoid leakage. Customers are asked to ship the parcel via express delivery, which would take a maximum of two to three days to reach Thasleema.
After receiving the package, the breast milk is mixed with a preservative powder (known as breast milk preservative powder in the market) and made into a paste. It is then left to dry under the sun for at least a week. After completing the process, the breast milk will not change colour. The milk is crushed into a fine powder before using it in the jewellery.
“Most of the customers prefer their pendants in pure silver as it’s more affordable compared to gold. I get silver jewellery designed as per the customer’s preference from Jaipur,” she says. Similarly, the umbilical cord is preserved using resin. To add lustre, it is coated with either silver or gold foil. Apart from these, frames and coasters, including baby hair, nails and the first scanned photo of the pregnancy can also be made into keepsakes.