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Henna for Skin Designs

Henna has been an inspiration to the imagination and creativity of the artists. Make your won designs- left or right-handed, simple or complex. All you need is a steady hand, a great deal of patience, and of course a creative spirit.

Organic henna body-art-designs vary by country or region, within the cultural boundaries of beauty and tradition. Shapes, pattern, and application techniques often are particular to a given area.

North African Style
The people of the mountainous or desert regions incorporate bold geometric patterns with
intricate dots and wavy lines into their henna designs. The
patterns are easy to see from a distance.

Indian Style
Mehandi pattern of India and Pakistan correspond to the birds and tropical plants of their regions. Ornate, arabesque designs may consist of delicate paisleys, lace-like tracery, peacocks, mangoes, leaves, hearts,
and faces.

Arabian Style
The people of the Arabian Peninsula esteem decorations that incorporate vines, scrolls, and flowers. As in the North African tradition, followers of the Islamic religion usually do not paint representational art of animals or people.

Contemporary Designs
Today the marvels of henna body art have catapulted
around the globe. Designs are no longer confined to local
indigenous decorations, customs, and beliefs but include a melange of impressions that marry the past with the present.

Creating your own designs

Making the Paste
The goal is to have a toothpaste like or hot cream of wheat consistency that allows the henna paste to be extruded from the tip of a cone in a fine string. If you are using a toothpick applicator, the henna texture can be a bit thicker. You can store henna paste, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Basic Henna Recipe

1. Teaspoon (5 g) powdered henna, sifted to a talcum powder consistency.
2. Teaspoon (10 ml) distilled water or brewed dark tea, boiled and cooled to room temperature
3. 5 drops henna oil
4. 2 drops clove oil.

(a) In a glass or plastic bowl, combine the henna powder, water, and eucalyptus oil. Mix only after all the ingredients have been added, and mix only in one direction (clockwise or counterclockwise). Stir quickly to eliminate all lumps.

(b) If possible, let the paste ferment for at least 5 hours before using. Cover the mixture but do not seal or refrigerate. To test consistency, gather paste on a spoon and invert. The paste should drop off the spoon in 10-15 seconds.

Making the Henna Cone
Preparing the henna cone is an acquired skill that will become easier with practice. If you are planning a henna party, make up a dozen cones ahead of time and have them ready.

To make a henna cone, you will need:

(a) Quart-sized plastic zipper freezer bags, heavy-duty plastic freezer bags, or plastic from upper heavy painter's drop Long-bladed scissors cloth.q Transparent adhesive tape
(b) ong-bladed scissors
(c) Transparent adhesive tape
(d) Straight pins

Follow these steps for cutting and folding the cone:

1. Cut off the reclosable top of the freezer bag with scissors. Cut along the side and bottom seams to separate the plastic into two separate sheets. For other plastics, a comfortable cone size can be from 4 inches by 5 inches (10cm by 12.5 cm) to 4 inches by 7 inches (10 cm by 17.5 cm).

2. Fold the sheets in half. Holding the open edges with your thumb and index finger, cut across the closed edge. You now have four plastic sheets.

3. Holding the two sheets lengthwise, place your middle finger on the corner of the top one. Bring the opposite diagonal corner to meet the corner you are holding. Wrap the plastic over and over around your middle finger to create a cone.

4. Adapt the size of the up opening and width of the cone by moving your middle inside the plastic sheets. The up should be the tiny diameter of a straight pin.
5. Have several pieces of 1.5-inch (4cm) precut tape ready. Carefully tape down the final plastic corner near the up. Run at least one strip of tape vertically up the entire open seam. Tape as needed to seal the open edges, but do not tape the ends shut. You cone will be about 6 inches (15 cm) long and have an opening that allows just a 2 - finger space at the top.

6. Using a small teaspoon, fill the henna cone two-thirds full. With the top still open, shake the cone rapidly up and down until the henna mixture moves down to within ¼ inch (6 mm) of the cone tip. Wipe off excess henna near the top of the cone. Alternatively, you may place a heaping tablespoon (15-plus ml) of henna paste in the middle of the plastic sheets before you form them into a cone.

Fold down the wide end of the cone and use your thumbs and index fingers to squeeze the henna into the tip. Twist the wide end and secure it with a rubber band, or fold it down and secure with tape. Tape shut any other loose edges. If the tip of the cone is too small and paste is clogging the hole, use scissors to enlarge the opening, or poke a straight pin into the opening to loosen the clog.

Applying the design

Have a paper towel handy to clear the tip of the cone from time to time. Remember, the color and design will hold better if the paste is allowed to remain on the skin for at least 1 to 3 hours.

1. Hold the cone between the thumb and your index finger about 1/4 inch (6mm) from its tip. Touch the tip of the cone to the skin. Then lift up to release the henna paste. Trace the outline of the design on the skin, then fill in the details one section at a time.Lefties should begin at the right side of the design and work towards left.

2.As you are working the pattern, keep ti moist so that it doesn't peel away. Use a cotton swab or a square to gently apply a lemon sugar solution-3 teaspoon (15 ml) lemon juice mixed with mixed with one teaspoon (5 mg) sugar- to the design. If you can, moisten the henna design every 1/2 hour for three hours.

3. When you are ready to remove the paste, apply any oil - eucalyptus, mustard, avocado, sesame, olive, almond-generously over the design. Then use the edge of a butter knife, a credit card or your finger nails to scrap off the hardened excess.

4. Avoid washing the area of henna design for several hours. After the paste has been removed, smear the area with oil again. Each day apply the body oil to the design; it will help the drawing last longer.Those with darker skin tones might want to reapply the design on the following day for a longer lasting pattern.

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