Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A brand spankin new year

I recently returned to the blogger/youtube game after an almost 2 year hiatus. In that time my life has changed loads. I've moved a bunch, lost, gained, struggled, and now I'm planning. No resolutions on my list, but goals and lots of hard work. All my personal stuff I'll leave off, but I certainly have goals for Free Hand Mehndi.

Regroup and refocus. I left Free Hand Mehndi a giant mess with any and everything unfinished. Unprocessed orders/refunds, over 10,000 emails unanswered, and unfinished projects/contracts. I've spent the last few months ironing things out and cleaning up the giant mess I left. My goal is to have everything settled by March 31st. This means I need to hear from you. If you're due a refund from FHM or we have an unsettled contract I need you to contact me by March 1st.

Upgrade! My camera and editing equipment is in dire need of upgrade. I want to bring you clear crisp video and images, and professionally edited content. I'm working on it. For now things might be a bit murky but trust me, I'm working towards better equipment.

More fun stuff. I get a lot of requests for videos, classes, and even meetups. I hope to be able to make it to at least 3 major cities for meetups in 2014. I want to see your beautiful faces and have tons o henna fun.

Online store. A bulk of my mistakes and failures came about through my online store and retail store. I have a lot of cleaning up to do in this area. As soon as I came back to youtube the first question many asked is if the online store was coming back and how soon could they order. At that time I wasn't sure if that was possible and replied that the online store was not coming back.

 I unfortunately lost my domain name due to my expired bank card, but that's easily fixable. Got locked out of my website because I forgot the password (easily recovered). I messed up big time and lost the trust of my long time viewers and customers (one of my biggest regrets), and this is not easily fixable. I appreciate all of the love, forgiveness, and kindness many of you have shown. Simply opening an online store is something I can do tomorrow, but I'd be setting FHM up for failure I'm sure of it. My mission is to make things right, and it takes time to do that. I need to gain back the trust and respect from my long time viewers and give you my best, in 2014 I intend to do just that.

With all of that said, the online store will reopen in 2014 (no date has been decided at this time). Henna is my passion and I intend to make it my business permanently. At one time I had a lot of success in the online henna business and I hope through hard work that I'll have the same and better than I once had. Sadly the retail store will not reopen.

Searching for the perfect henna powder. I'm on a mission to find the perfect henna powder. Something better than my Monsoon? You bet! It may mean I have to travel, and I'm more than ready to do just that. This is a labor of love and I'm super excited about this project.

I hope that 2014 is a great year for you, and that you grow in your craft and creativity. Heres to better days ahead! **Happy New Year**

Sunday, December 29, 2013

She brought me a shirt

With henna the possibilities are endless so when a friend brought me a shirt and asked me to create a design, I was excited. Free hand henna designs with inspiration from objects, is one of my favorite ways to do henna. If an object is not available I get inspiration from veins in the hands (sounds crazy, I know). This design was lots of fun, and this shirt was easy to get inspired by.

Can you see what I used from this shirt? What would you have done differently? What do you use for inspiration? Check out my instagram @freehandmehndi for daily inspiration

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Random Henna Inspiration at Midnight

I like to call this Mehndi Midnight Madness. Around midnight my mind is flooded with design ideas. Sometimes I sketch the designs out, other times I ignore the design flow and try to sleep, but these days I'm reaching for a henna cone and bringing these ideas to life.

For the last few nights Morocco has been my inspiration. I'm considering a whole month on youtube dedicated to Moroccan inspired henna designs. Last nights midnight madness I had khamsa/hamsa's on the brain, and geometric shapes and patterns. The typical Moroccan Henna outlines just wouldn't do. The outline of the ring and middle finger with no filler was perfect. I couldn't add or remove from this. Now that it's on skin I can sleep.

When that burst of creativity comes at midnight, how do you cope?

Below are pics of my most recent midnight henna madness

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Floral Strip Fun

Floral strips have taken the henna design world by storm. While they've been around forever they've recently become more popular in bridal and special occasion henna. The awesome thing about floral strips is they're super easy to do, even for a beginner, and they look impressive when finished with very little effort.

Floral strips are made up of 3-4 shapes, accents, or motifs that are repeated until the design is complete. Below is a video of my most recent floral strip adventure. As you can see it took almost no time to complete and looks rather full.

Floral strips are fun for just about anywhere, the arm, hand, foot, leg, and even down the middle of the back.

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All images and video copyright Free Hand Mehndi

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another bit of fusion henna fun inspired by the gulf

I love trying to fuse new styles of henna together. In this bit I mixed Bahraini/Gulf florals and accents with Indian mandala pieces. Much of this design was inspired by designs found on Hennaalakhawat's instagram. I love this style and look forward to trying more designs from this region.

Follow me on instagram @freehandmehndi for daily henna inspiration!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How To Hire a Bridal Henna Artist

Your special day is fast approaching and the task of hiring the henna artist has made its way to the top of your list. 

These tips will assist you in hiring the right bridal henna artist for you. 

Before calling and googling around be clear with yourself about what you expect for your bridal mehndi. Do you have a design in mind? Is there a certain style of henna you want (Indian, Arabic, Indo-Arabic, Gulf/Khaleeji, Moroccan, Indo-Fusion, extra)? Are you more traditional? Or are you looking for something a little bit more unique or modern?

Next, think about your budget. Bridal henna can range in price depending on the artists talents and where you live. If you want a top knotch henna artist expect to pay in the $250-$350+, but not every artist that charges in that range is worthy of those rates. 

Once you're clear about what you want, and your budget is settled, it's time to begin the search. 

You can start by searching locally, Google or craigslist is a great place to start. Most henna artists have a web presence of some sort, so a website/page, blog, Instagram, or Facebook page should be easy to find. Once you've seen who/what's available locally, select an artist or two that you feel meets your needs and set up a consult/meeting with them. 

Now what if there isn't an artist in your area or those in your area aren't up to par? Search in the nearest major city. If you end up hiring an artist in another city, expect to pay extra for their travel or expect to travel to them. 

The consult should be free of charge or very cheap. During the consult you should have the opportunity to browse the artists portfolio and see a live sample of their work. At least two happy bridal clients (not related to or friends of the artist) should be provided to you as references. You should show the artist the design you want and ask if she/he can do it. 

You don't have to hire the first artist you consult with, but if you do consult with one and you don't hire them, a thank you but I've decided to hire another is most appreciated. 

Once you've picked an artist, be very clear about your expectation as far as the designs, the dates, and the results you want. Expect to put down a non refundable deposit. Very few henna artists do bridal business on a handshake anymore, and more artists are using contracts these days. Contracts and deposits are part of bridal business. 

Your artist should provide you with tips in regards to skin prep before the big day. She/he should advise you when it's appropriate to tan, have mani/pedis, waxing/shaving, or other skin treatments. All of these things affect the quality of your henna stain and the artist should advise you when to have those things done, so your henna will be its best on your special day. 

Your artist should keep in contact with you as the date for your bridal mehndi nears. This is the best time to ask all questions and review the details you may have previously discussed. 

On the day of the mehndi the artist should arrive on time and ready to henna. Before starting, review the design again, placement of the design, and ask questions if you have them. If you've added bridal party members, this is the time to talk about and agree on the added cost. Extra work means more money. 

The artist needs space, good lighting, and comfortable seating. The artist may need to take short breaks to rest her/his hands. Please put away pets, little ones, or busy people that might bump you or the artist. Don't allow pushy family or friends to bully the artist or talk you into something you don't like/want. 

Once the mehndi is complete, your aftercare has been provided, and the artist is ready to go, it's time to pay. This is not a time to haggle with the artist on what's due even if that's normal for you culturally, it may not be for the artist and is considered rude. Tipping is the norm in service industries, but not a requirement. 

The artist should provide you with aftercare and should give you additional instructions before leaving. 

It's always nice to send pictures taken of your mehndi on your wedding day to the artist. We love to see pictures or get feedback. You may be called upon to give a reference for the artist and we're most thankful for that. 

In the event you're not happy, let the artist know immediately. Don't wait weeks after the application to speak up. Be clear about what you don't like or why you're unhappy. A simple I didn't like it, or my cousin could've done the same for cheaper just won't fly. Threats aren't appreciated. 

Red Flags to watch for 
• The artist has no portfolio and can't provide references. 

•The artist doesn't mix their own henna. 

•They're not clear on their pricing and are vague about their availability. 

•The thief is using pictures of others work and trying to pass them off as their own. A portfolio isn't made up of pictures stolen from others. 

•You're their first bridal. 

• Their portfolio doesn't reflect bridal quality work, or the sample henna done during the consult doesn't match the quality in their portfolio. 

•You can't get in touch with the artist. 

•The artist refuses to do a consult or expects you to pay a lot for the consultation. 

•The artist offers black henna. RUN!

•The artist insists on a deposit but won't provide a contract. 

Please share your bridal henna experience below and artists please share tips you think are helpful to brides, that I didn't list. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

eBook Special 9/28-9/30

It seems that Eid just ended and another blessed Eid is almost upon us. Free Hand Mehndi has a henna pattern book just for you. Mubarak! Ten pages of beautiful henna patterns and motifs. This ebook was just released in July 2013 so the designs are fresh and new. As a gift, Free Hand Mehndi will also send along a copy of Fab Florals Vol 1.

You don't have to celebrate Eid to take advantage of this special deal, henna patterns are for everyone to enjoy.

This special runs 9/28-9/30. To get your FREE ebook you don't have to do anything. We'll automatically send it with your purchase of Mubarak.

Take a look at all of the FHM ebook titles here 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Insurance for Henna Artists?

Sorry for being super MIA these days. A lot going on on the home front. I finally got in my inbox and had some awesome emails and topics to cover. One topic I get questions on a lot is insurance and liability. I'm not a professional when it comes to law (laws will vary from state/state, country/country), so I always advise to consult a professional.

Henna as a body art is currently not regulated in the USA. It is not a requirement to have any sort of licensing or certificate to get out there and sling mud. There are mixed views on the topic. I'm of the opinion that it should be regulated, but not to point that it becomes expensive for those who have years of experience, and not to the degree of an esthetician.

So...on with the topic. I received the following email from a subscriber and below you can read both the email and my response. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below if you agree, disagree, or have questions of your own.

My name is Ann Marie and I came across your blog while looking for the answer to a question, but checking out your blog, I think it was your video that showed me how to first make my own henna, so thank you for that!  I have been henna-ing for friends and small family/friends' parties for about six years, and I recently received an offer to henna at a local beach-bar. (I never actively pursued henna-ing for money because I am a teacher, I have a main income and I just love the art, not necessarily the money).  However, my reservation with doing henna for a public venue with strangers is that I am afraid of being sued if someone had a freak allergic reaction and blamed my for it.  

I know that a reaction to henna is rare, I myself have never seen one in anyone I have hennaed because I only use lemon, sugar, tea-tree oil and henna (rajasthani twilight).  However, I want to make sure I am covered.  Do you have any recommendations/advice to avoid such an incident or put my mind at ease?  I made a waiver that clients could sign, but would that be legally binding and fully protect me?

Thank you for any advice you might have, and thank you for your beautiful art!

and my response...

Hello Ann,

Great questions and I'll probably turn this into a blog post. Thank you for watching the videos, I'm glad they could be of benefit. 

The first thing is ensuring that your henna paste mixture is natural and free from added chemicals, and it sounds like you have that covered. Some people are sensitive to essential oils, but very few. If there's any reaction it would most likely be from oils if at all. Tea tree is a safe oil to go with. 

Now, as far as liability you would be responsible if anything should happen to one of your customers. There are two ways you can cover yourself.
1. Insurance 
2. A waiver

Insurance can be a tricky one because henna isn't regulated at the moment, and so it's hard to group us under cosmetology because we aren't regulated under that umbrella. It is still possible to get insurance though and it runs about $35-$40/month with your well known insurance companies. There is a company that insures clowns, henna artists, face painters, and entertainers http://www.specialtyinsuranceagency.com/vendor-insurance.html
If you don't plan to make henna a regular thing I wouldn't recommend going this route, insurance is expensive and will eat into your profits. 

The waiver is a good way to go, but you'll find that potential customers might hesitate. A waiver will not fully cover you and you could still be sued if someone should decide to do so. Children and teens cannot sign legal documents and you'll find many of them approaching your booth alone for henna. 

I've hennaed for 10+ years and only carried insurance part of the time. I've never been sued or threatened with a lawsuit. I always start with a customer by asking if they've every had henna before and if they have any sensitivities to the ingredients in my henna paste, if not I proceed. I henna children that are 8 or older and never henna children without their parents present and fully aware of what's going on. I'm sure you'll be fine and you might check to see if the event planners/organizers have insurance for the event and if you'd be covered under it. If you find yourself doing 10 or more events per year I'd recommend insurance, if not just have a waiver in your booth/table and make ingredients available to your customers should they ask. 

I hope this helps and if you have any additional questions please feel free to ask. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

eBook Rerelease! Naqashat Moroccan Designs

So excited I was able to recover an ebook I thought was forever lost. Naqashat was the ebook that transitioned me from amateur ebook author to a pro. It took months for me to finish this ebook and it was a true labor of love. In this ebook are fusion designs and some traditional Moroccan pieces as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved creating these patterns.

Naqashat is the word used to describe a traditional Moroccan Henna Artist.

Hip Hip Horay! Naqashat is back!

Naqashat includes 6 pages, 12 motifs, 2 hand patterns, and 4 foot patterns. Recommended for intermediate, but a nice challenge for beginners.

Naqashat is only $5 and can be purchased here 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mubarak! Henna patterns for Eid

It took many many months to get this ebook published and just in time for Eid ul Fitr. This ebook includes 10 pages of hand, foot, and floral motifs. Very pretty feminine designs, fusion pieces, and floral strips. This ebook is recommended for intermediate to advanced levels. Mubarak also includes some pieces that are appropriate for sangeets and other celebrations that call for fabulous henna.

You can purchase Mubarak for the low low price of $5 by clicking here

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Social Experiment…henna for tips

I'm not the first and I'm sure I won't be the last. Last what? A henna artist that works for tips. I admit that this isn't the first time I've done this. The very first time was about a year ago at a henna party. Everyone there came to have their henna done by moi, and I said name your price. Some were generous and of course you'll have those few who are stingy, but hey I did say tip so they tipped. 

Last week I set up a table at a street fair type event. It was free to set up, and there were plenty of prime spots (it was 80+ that day). I kept it simple with a sign on a tip jar. Grammar Nazis feel free to jump on my sign, I usually don't make mistakes like that but I was fasting so forgive me. 

It wasn't long before I had my first customer a whopping $9 for a $5 om symbol, a nice generous tip. I won't go tip by tip, tattoo by tattoo but by the end of the night I was happy. I pulled lots of bigger designs out of my festival design books but I must have missed one because I was on these large floral strips for about 20 minutes (I pulled it and tucked it away). I had customers pay $20 for $5 designs, and one stinker paid nothing for a $10 design. The average tip was $10/person, and I found the tips starting to thin out a bit by the end of the night. I made more than my normal hourly rate and had customers from start to finish. I'll probably try this again at this same event next month. 

If you're a budding henna artist, hennaing for tips is a great way to get started. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Henna Fusion

When I was a child I wanted to grow up to be an illustrator. In one way that dream did come true, I mean henna is an illustration, isn't it? A few years ago I started drafting ebooks with henna patterns. My first books were awful, but my skills have improved since then and has become another creative outlet. 

For the past few months I've worked hard to complete an upcoming ebook release. I sketched, tested, re sketched, and then drafted in ink many designs. Some designs didn't make the final cut, yes I'm a little obsessive about my ebooks lol. 

Fusion henna designs have become my new passion. Fusion happens when I combine several different styles of henna into one design. The design pictured below is a mixture of Moroccan (the shape/outline), Indian (fillers), and Arabic (bold lines and accents). I've now decided to do an ebook just on fusion designs alone, but this is a great start. 

What do you think? What are your favorite styles of henna to mix? Join me on Pinterest, where I'll start previewing my fusion designs.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

14,000 subscribers!!! Thank you

From the very bottom of my heart, many thanks are do to my subscribers. All of you mean so much to me. Every comment, view, and video rating makes its all worth it. I've been at it since 2008 and after a two year hiatus I'm glad to be back. 

As promised I'll have a giveaway in August to celebrate this milestone. Whoo hoo! I love all of you. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sifting your henna to prevent clogs

This ever important step is becoming unnecessary now that 90% of henna exported (Asia, Africa, and the Middle East) is pre sifted. However, it is important to be able to identify when your henna powder might require sifting, and also how to sift.

If you spot small sticks, leaves, and fuzzy bits in your henna, it's time to sift. Hope this tutorial helps. Enjoy!

Today I happened to be sifting henna for an upcoming event and filmed part of the process. This is one of many ways to sift henna. If you rarely sift, these three household items can help. All you need is a bowl, sieve with fine mesh, and a spoon. 

Scoop the henna into the sieve, use the spoon to move the henna powder around, and use the bowl to catch the newly sifted henna. You may have to repeat the process a few times before the sifting is complete. 



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Iftar for those in need

For the past couple of years I've belonged to a group of Muslimahs (muslim women), who raise money for various charities. We usually pick an individual or organization and use our talents (baking, cooking, henna, selling goods, ect) to raise money. During this Ramadhan we're raising money for families in India and Sri Lanka. To do so we're selling sweets and finger foods from around the world that are handcrafted locally. If you're local (Portland OR) and wish to support a good cause please stop by. If you're not local, you can still donate at theoneummah.org

Monday, July 15, 2013

Graffiti Culture

I've always been drawn to graffiti art and Portland has plenty of it. We've got your average tagger but Portland is home to some really talented artists that take it beyond tags.

 Friday afternoon I took a short walk and stumbled upon this awesome graffiti mural. This wall has long been an eyesore and hangout location for drinkers and drug dealers who frequent the convenience store around the corner, but it is now a work of art to be admired. 

Funny how people from all walks respect art. An old ugly wall can be a hangout spot for those up to no good, slap some art on that bad boy and they find somewhere else to do their dirt. Absolutely amazing!

Website listed on the mural is http://www.ariserawk.com/ check it out!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Sneak Peek at Mubarak!

I've been working on this ebook off and on for the better part of two months. The last three days I've had a sudden flow of inspiration and I wanted to share. 

"Mubarak" meaning blessed, is one word in a greeting used around the world by Muslims. The greeting "Eid Mubarak" or Blessed Eid, is used during the holidays. During the Eid women and girls decorate themselves with henna. This ebook was created for holidays such as Eid, but can be used to celebrate any holiday by those of many faiths. 

Below are a few pics/partial pics of designs from "Mubarak". The number of pages is unknown at this point but there are plenty of hand, foot, and henna motifs included. Estimated price point is $3-$5. 

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

MDH Henna Powder Review

Very rarely do I go out and blind purchase henna powder off the shelf. I did such a thing the other day for a whopping $5.99. The box doesn't note a harvest or expiration date, so there isn't a clear indication as to when it was harvested.

Knowing the harvest date wasn't really that important, because upon opening the box I discovered two extra ingredients in the henna powder. MDH's secret ingredients include green dye and sand!!! They must know this is the secret to making a henna artist happy (sarcasm). 

The green dye is added to old henna to give it a fresh harvested look, but even freshly harvested and milled henna isn't that green. The sand is added in place of actual henna powder. It gives the henna powder more weight, making it appear as though you have 100 grams of henna when you actually only have 80 grams (the other 20 grams is just sand). 

The green dye doesn't really cause too many issues but the sand makes it near impossible to apply a decent design. So after discovering the two extra ingredients I didn't see the need to test the stain or mix the paste as I normally would. 

MDH gets a big fat F in my book. 

Watch my review of MDH on YouTube!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadhan Mubarak!

The blessed month of Ramadhan has arrived. With a sudden move and other stressors I didn't feel prepared. As I cooked my first suhoor of the month I had a feeling that everything would be ok. 

I have recorded some videos and have many topics to blog about, but it will happen at a much slower rate as I concentrate on other things. The blogging and vids should pick back up towards the end of Ramadhan. 

Ramadhan Mubarak to all who observe this blessed month. May this month be filled with growth, forgiveness, and a renewed strength. Ameen. 

Free Hand Mehndi 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A quick trip to China via Lan Su PDX

I haven't visited Lan Su Chinese Garden since it opened back when I was in high school. At the time everything was brand new and the plants had not yet matured. If you're in Portland and desire to visit China but don't have the budget, drop by Lan Su. 

Lan Su is a very traditional garden smack dab in Old Town China Town in downtown Portland Oregon. Lan Su garden has several pagodas, lotus flowers in a beautiful lake that's filled with koi fish. They even have a beautiful waterfall and tea house. There's calligraphy everywhere and lots of beautiful molding in every nook and cranny. 

The garden is simply amazing. The architecture has been preserved so well, and the plants have matured since my first visit. On any given day you'll see all sorts of wildlife. Dragonflies, butterflies, and even a beautiful heron make guest appearances regularly. 

The garden is also host to artwork, calligraphy demos, and live music. The garden smelled heavily of gardenias and sweet ripened fruit. 

I really enjoyed my time here, and look forward to regular visits throughout the summer. I really would like to see more dusting take place. I understand that the garden is outside but it appears some regular dusting has taken a backseat. 

I'll be back soon Lan Su!

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