My friend Antoinette is a professional henna artist. She has a studio up in Seattle by Greenlake and was the one who created the awesome Minoan Octopus henna for me last fall that I want to have turned into a tattoo.
Last week on Facebook, she asked for a volunteer to sit for her and get their hands covered front and back so she could add it to her "wedding henna" portfolio. I had some free time and since I disappointed that I didn't end up getting any henna in Dubai, I thought it was perfect timing.
It did take 3 and 1/2 hours, however. And the stain might have been even darker if I could have let it sit a bit longer. But after 4 hours I was meeting friends for dinner and as I didn't want henna crumbles falling into my dinner plate, I scraped the last clinging bits off.
Henna is a plant that has natural dyeing capabilities and has been used to decorate skin and hair for centuries, if not millennia. The powder (and there are many varieties of powder to choose from) is mixed with lemon juice and frequently an essential oil is added as well. Then, depending on the temperature, it has to sit overnight or a couple of days until it starts to release its dye and then can be applied to the body using a small version of a baker's piping bag. Then you let it sit on the skin until it dries. Frequently this can involve covering the spot to protect it while it dries. The longer the dye is on the skin, the darker the stain will be.
The 2 above photos were taken while I still had the henna on my hands. The two below are now 2 days old and showing quite a bit of dark stain. I really love this pattern on the back of the hands.
The palms take the stain much better than the forearms. This flower motif and use of open space is more representative of the henna styles of the Gulf countries (like the UAE, Qatar, etc) although of course there is a huge range of designs to choose from.
It will last for about a week and then gradually start to fade. I am thinking of starting a tradition of getting my hands hennaed before I run a race. The more I run, the more excuses I will have to get henna!
You can also find Antoinette's Magic Magpie Studio on Facebook. If you live in the northwest and like henna, "fan" her and then find out what festivals she will have her henna booth set up.