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Best One Yet!

Orchid2

This is the best henna I’ve done to date!

The design is from Darcy‘s book. The paste is the one I made the other night. The sealer was Maxx’s fabulous half-glue, half-lemon juice mix with some glitter thrown in, generously dabbed on with two Q-tips. I blowdried it, and it was so well-protected and flexible that I didn’t even cover it when I went to bed. Peeled it off in the morning after 8 hours, covered my hand with a plastic glove while I showered and got ready, and went to work.

Now, 20 hours after application, and 12 hours after paste removal, I have a gorgeous, deeper-than-redweld-colored stain! And such crisp lines as I have never seen myself do.

w00t -> me 🙂

Oh, and the reason for the orchid is twofold. First of all, I just bloomed on Sunday! Isn’t it pretty? Secondly, it seems that there is a rule somewhere about obligatory henna-and-a-pretty-flower photos. So this is my contribution. Ideally, I want to get some black drapery so I can have henna photos on a black background with minimal Photoshopping.

November is National Novel Writing Month

For more details, go to www.nanowrimo.org.

Paste Consistency = O

After working with Darcy’s great mix all weekend, I finally had a pretty decent idea of what a good paste consistency is. I mixed some up last night, adding more and more and more lemon juice (but only a small bit of sugar and honey, and not too many essential oils), stirring the hell out of it with a spoon. I let it sit on top of the fridge loosely covered with saran wrap all of last night and until I got home from work today. I think it thickened up a little as it sat out, so I mixed in another generous splash of lemon juice before loading my cones.

I also had a better idea of what kinds of cones I like after working with Darcy. First of all, I’d been folding the tops over and taping them down, which works horribly. Darcy twists the tops and secures them with little rubber bands.

Funny story — I’d been saving like five little baggies of those tiny, multicolored orthodontic rubber bands since I was an awkward teen with braces, with the idea that someday they would be useful. This summer, I finally tossed them out, thinking that if I hadn’t used them yet, I never would. Stupid me! I totally could have used them to secure the tops of my cones! Oh well — I made do with a spool of hemp I have on hand for macrame.

Even though the Walgreens near work didn’t have mylar gift wrap (like Darcy’s usually does — lucky her :P), I still had some cello I bought from Mehandi.com. So this is what I ended up with:

Cones

I have three more in the freezer, after seeing how quick the things thawed out at the school fair on Sunday.

Anyway, I clipped a cone for a very, very fine line and went at it. Get this — no clogs, and perfect control! I think the key to nice, smooth lines is being able to drape lines of henna across the skin. This seems to work more or less with any design, from straight lines to circles, as long as you sling it right.

The worst problem I had when I was doing a few of Darcy’s designs on my feet was the fact that I’m not quite flexible enough to get my foot right in front of my nose, where I can see everything well enough to henna accurately. The lighting in my apartment sucks, too, making it even harder. But, I managed to bust out some of the finest designs I’ve done yet! They’re not perfect, obviously, but I’m totally pleased with the paste. Tomorrow I’m going to work on my technique on my hand, which should be easier to reach and see.

Better

I also finally got the right stuff for Maxx’s sealant that I’ve been dying to get straight. Plain old Elmer’s school glue (not the gel glue), mixed equal parts with lemon juice. I added some fine glitter I had lying around, but I don’t think I dumped enough in for it to show. It was thin enough to dab on, getting it nice and covered and moist, but not running — a huge problem I was having with my sealers before. (Another thing I learned from Darcy this weekend: When you seal something with lemon sugar, you don’t glob the stuff on! You gently dab it just enough to moisten the design. You shouldn’t even be able to see wetness on the skin, really.)

I’m going to seal each design at least three times so it’s well protected while I sleep tonight. I want good stains to show off my hard weekend of learning. 🙂

I hope this mix does stain well. I also need to figure out an easier way to load my cones. It was really annoying, even though I was trying to do it the "easy" way by loading a ziploc baggie with the henna, clipping the corner off of it, and squirting it in the cones, which I placed in a mug to keep them upright for me. I should find one of those plastic syringes they use for giving medicine to dogs and cats and babies. That would probably work a lot better.

Oww

After doing henna all weekend… my butt hurts! It’s pretty sad when you get sore muscles from doing something where you’re sitting down the entire time. 😛

Fabulous weekend

This weekend rocked! I did henna with Darcy at a bat mitzvah and a school fair. It was kind of freaky just jumping in and doing it, but I had so much fun that I completely lost track of the time both days.

I was too busy to take photos, which is probably a good thing. My designs are passable, but I see infinite room for improvement. Maybe after I’ve been doing this for ten years, I’ll effortlessly squeeze out gorgeous stuff on wiggly kids like Darcy does. 🙂

My overall opinion? Doing henna kicks ass!

My goals for the next few weeks include using this weekend’s proceeds to start a more appropriate henna wardrobe (how fun!) and practicing henna, especially "five-minute designs" to bust out on kids. My linework needs to be thinner, smoother, and faster. And I need to figure out how to strengthen or steady my hand. I had shaky fingers syndrome bad this weekend. Maybe that’s a good excuse to pick up yoga again — after a few days of yoga, I see boundless improvement in hand flexibility and strength.

On a side note, it’s cool that so many people in the Bay Area are knowledgeable of or interested in henna. I had the range of people, from moms and dads who’d never heard of it before but wanted to give it a try to this awesome little guy, probably five years old, that tested me on whether or not we were doing so-called "black henna," a very dangerous chemical passed off as a henna variant by shady temp tatoo artists in some places. What a pro!

And, of course, many thanks go out to Darcy for being willing to try me out. I considered it a huge gamble on her part, but it seems to have worked out! I totally look forward to more weekends and evenings of henna.

Final Hair Results

I realized that I never posted all of my hair photos. Now that it’s nice and mellowed out, in its final color, I think I can! I hear that repeated applications deepen and darken the red color, but if you’re a blonde (like me) and you henna with chamomile and a bit of lavendar (like I did) this is what you can expect!

BEFORE

Hairbefore2_1

IMMEDIATELY AFTER WASHING OUT

Oompaloompa

COLOR AFTER A WEEK AND A HALF

Final

I love the final color, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it! Now, almost a month later, I’m starting to see my roots, so I might reapply in the next week or two. I want to add one to three more photos to this log — the color a week and a half after the second application, and the third, etc., to see what kind of color buildup I get using this mix.

I guess I should also note — even though I’m a blonde, reddish hair runs in my family (from my maternal grandma), so I’ve been told numerous times that red hair really compliments my skin tone. In fact, my closest friends have historically described me as a natural redhead, even though from my photo it’s pretty obvious that I’m totally not. 😛

I originally didn’t notice much of a change in my hair texture, but now that I’ve been living with it for a month, I can say that it’s made my hair thicker. I used to cut down on the conditioner in the shower so it wouldn’t weigh my fine hair down, then spritz it with a light leave-in conditioner and a thickening spray. Now all I do is comb through a slightly more generous amount of my "heavy" conditioner and let it air dry! It’s never been softer, and I have no issues with it being too fine. I think it’s a little less wavy now too, but I bet I could still emphasize the wave with some hairspray and a diffuser if I wanted to glam up.

And the shine? Amazing! I actually have friends asking to touch my hair after seeing the sunshine play through it. As for me, I really have to cut the habit of feeling my hair up throughout the day (it’s just so soft! :P) and checking out my reflection in car and shop windows as I pass. Geez, you’d think I’m self-absorbed or something! ("Aren’t most bloggers?" Touche, touche.)

In conclusion, this experiment has been a roaring success! I may never want to go blonde again. 🙂

The Apprentice

First of all, I’d like to share a design I did last week (sorry for the delay). It’s my first palm design! And whoa, do palms give crazy beautiful color or what?

Darcypalm

The design is from Darcy‘s book that I’ve been talking about so much lately.

Which conveniently leads me to my next announcement… I’m going pro! Well, sort of. Darcy was kind enough to invite me along as an assistant at two events this weekend.

I have no words for how friggin’ stoked I am. I’m so stoked that listening to a French rock ballad called "Hey Dude" isn’t even fazing me. Hell, yeah! I had already decided that I really wanted to move on to being an assistant or "booth babe" to learn more about the henna biz, but little did I know that I’d end up with such an awesome, talented, and totally nice pro. It’s nice to know that I’ll be in good hands!

You’ve been in the office too long when…

You’ve been in the office too long when you realize your henna stains from the night before have deepened to the color of a redweld.

Too thick of a paste

First of all, I realized I had the traditional sealant wrong in my Basic Mehndi Mix post, so I changed it. You dissolve 2 or more parts sugar to 1 part lemon so it’s nice and pasty. I just mixed up a jar myself… and then adulterated it with some unnecessary essential oils and ground clove. I don’t know why. I was bored! I also nuked it a couple times (5 seconds each) to encourage the sugar to dissolve properly. Don’t know if that helps or not, though.

I’ve uploaded some stuff I’ve been working on this weekend into my Henna Gallery. Most of it was me playing with designs from Darcy’s recent ebook.

Darcycuff

The paste I made this week was a little bit too pasty. It was thick enough that squeezing it out of the cone hurt my hand — a complaint usually reserved for jaq bottles! It also dried up and cracked fairly quickly, and it didn’t stick to the skin unless I took care to moosh it on real good. (You should be able to drape it over the skin, and it’ll fall onto the skin and stick. Not this batch.) However, the lines sure were crisp! And since I used less EOs in this batch, the design I did on my palm turned a pretty red color, not the nutty brown of my last mix. Both colors are good, but I really like the red.

I discovered that the easiest way to seal this batch, since the henna wasn’t sticking to my skin very well, was to unroll a cotton ball, reroll it around the tip of a pencil, dip that in the lemon-sugar mix, and gently roll it across the design a couple times. Dabbing it with a cotton ball or two Q-tips made the mix stick to the henna, which wasn’t stuck to the skin, which lifted the henna right off. By rolling, it helped seal the henna to the skin, even if it wasn’t too well placed. Although it helped, when the henna was partially dry, to pat it with a finger to make sure the moist underlayer did have contact with the skin.

Also, dabbing usually made me coat it too thickly, which resulted in gooey drips of lemon-sugar getting all over the carpet. We’re hoping my ever-so-patient partner doesn’t notice. This weekend he gave me a new henna-inspired nickname, though: Doodlebear. Like, those teddy bears they used to sell, where you can draw all over them, then wash them off and draw all over them again. I’m considering using that as my henna name if I ever do this as a business: Doodlebear Henna. Except that doesn’t sound very bridal, now, does it? LOL.

So the first batch I mixed was too runny. This batch was too stiff. Hopefully with my next batch, I’ll find a good medium.

And props to Rand for experimenting with part of my slimy batch that I gave him at work on Saturday! You are a brave man, my friend.

Henna Tribe Calendar Project

Kenzi from Henna Tribe had a great idea, and it looks like Carly and I are going to make it happen: The first (that we know of), slightly racy henna calendar, with gorgeous photos of full-body henna designs and info on the artists and the art! (Provocative shots of males and females are okay — but no bared privates or nipplage.)

The FINAL SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE is November 4, 2005. Go here for info on where to submit, what to submit, how to submit, or just for further developments on the project.

If we get enough submissions, we’re hoping to realease the calendar in mid to late November — probably for individual sale and for resale by henna professionals and other interested parties.