BARHAMSVILLE – Barhamsville reflexologist and fashion designer Leslie Babbitt-Belcher, better known as “Babbitt,” has integrated a new medium, “wearable art,” both on canvass and with her designs.
Babbitt’s current exhibit at the Gloucester Arts on Main that blends her unique clothing designs with works of art, many of which implement interesting textiles.
It’s a first for both the gallery and the artist herself, who studies painting under the tutelage of local West Point artist Baylor Nichols.
“He really teaches me how to hone in my skills and my talents, when brushing 3-D paintings using textiles,” Babbitt said.
According to Babbitt, what makes this particular collection so different is the fact that people can walk away from the exhibit with works of art in the form of one-of-a-kind clothing pieces and paintings that mimic one another in some form or fashion.
“I am very proud of this collection because it really encapsulates all the things that I do, even healing arts,” Babbitt said.
Originally from Boston, MA, Babbitt runs B&B New Beginnings from her studios, located in Barhamsville.
There, her studios serve many purposes: reflexology, aromatherapy, workshops, fashion design, painting, and creating accessories.
“Here at B&B, our mission is to surround all who enter our doors with a sensational experience. Gorgeous original clothing designs coupled with amazing healing arts to relax and rejuvenate,” Babbitt says on her website, www.bandbnewbeginnings.com.
According to Babbitt, her fashion collections consist of three categories, Mix and match, limited cuts, and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Most of her clothing pieces are made with fabrics that do not wrinkle as they are machine wash and dry. Her pieces are travel-friendly as well.
“Looking good and feeling good is important to me,” she said.
Her love for fashion began at an early age.
The youngest of four girls in her family, Babbitt had become accustomed to hand-me-down clothes, but by the age of 13 she wanted to start making her own.
“I had a girlfriend who would stitch everything, and that’s what got me interested. I told myself, ‘If she can do it, so can I,’ so I begged my parents for a sewing machine,” she said.
That year, her parents got Babbitt a new Singer sewing machine and three patterns for her to cut out, pin, and draft into ensembles.
Babbitt didn’t follow the patterns, not only because it was in her nature to rebel, but also because she thought the clothes weren’t attractive, and that she could make something better.
“I looked at the picture and did it my way. When my mom saw what I had done, she was amazed,” said Babbitt.
After a lot of encouragement from friends and family, she eventually chose fashion design as a full-time career, not just a hobby.
Along with designing, Babbitt chose to go to Palmer Institute of Reflexology in Salem, MA, and the Institute of Father Joseph’s Method in Taiwan, so that she could use the gifts her father knew she had possessed for years. She also studied Healing Arts at Lesley University in Cambridge Ma. and holds a Bachelor of Science in both Business and Healing Arts.
While studying various new and traditional methods of reflexology, she began a healing arts and fashion center, called Babbitt’s Inc., in Andover, MA, and developed a steady clientele for healing arts and her fashion designs, many of whom travel to Barhamsville to see her.
“My gift, which I treasure is a deep understanding of my own energy and that is what I bring to my clients,” said Babbitt.
“I can feel someone's feet and understand intuitively what method will be the best to support the needs of my client." Reflexology is most profound.
Through reflexology and other methods of touch, Babbitt has watched tired, aching, emotionally troubled men and women transform before her eyes. This is the most satisfying part of her job, she said.
“When people leave, they leave in a whole different way. They are definitely rejuvenated,” said Babbitt.
Babbitt will be holding a spring open studio on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her Barhamsville studio. The exhibit at the Gloucester Arts on Main will be on display until Tuesday, March 31.
Babbitt also offers healing arts workshops as well as jewelry making workshops that are tailored specifically for the participants.
Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.