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

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 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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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Henna and Pregnancy Safety and Application Tips

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. In just a few short weeks we'll have a new addition to our family and it got me thinking about henna and safety with expectant mothers.

Let's start with the paste itself. Pregnant women are often sensitive to smells, and find their skin sensitive to new things as well. It's important to keep the ingredients in your paste simple and 100% natural. A simple mix of henna powder, lemon juice, essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus, or tea tree), and sugar if needed. If mama has developed a citrus sensitivity replace the lemon juice with water or delude the liquid (50/50 water/lemon juice). DO NOT use premixed store bought henna cones, and NEVER use black henna on a pregnant woman or any other woman. 

Before applying the henna ask the mother questions about sensitivities and her general health. If she's sensitive to certain oils or scents, avoid them. If she has a citrus allergy, avoid citrus. If her immune system is compromised or she is ill advise that this isn't the best time for henna. 

Application Tips

Advise mom to wear clothing that's comfortable and stretchy, and remind her to visit the ladies room before getting started. Ask the mother if it's ok to touch her belly. Many people assume it's ok to reach out and touch and it's not. Also we want to give mom a chance to get comfortable with us, so be calm and let mom give the ok to start.  

Do not have a pregnant mother lie down flat on her back. Instead apply the design with her sitting upright in a chair, reclined slightly, or in a zero gravity lawn chair. The zero gravity chairs are great, run about $60, have a wide seat, and have a high weight limit (250-300lbs). 

I think it's fun to center the design around the belly button, but that's not the only way, just a fun way. Use your pinky and ring finger to help steady your hand during application. 

Babies move and kick during application so be prepared for that. If the kicking and movement causes a disruption in application, take a break and wait for the active baby to relax. New voices and sensations can get babies moving so its best to let it pass if the movement prevents smooth application. 

Sometimes there's a crease or fold that develops on the underside of the belly. Be careful not to apply henna on that area, it will smash when mom moves. To see this fold watch mom sit and stand with her belly exposed. Not all pregnant women have that fold, but it's fairly common. 

Bring a mirror so mom can see her finished belly art. 

Let the experience be fun and enjoyable for all. If mom experiences any discomfort, nausea, skin discoloration on application site, itching or burning, it's best to stop immediately and remove the henna paste. 

It's important to do belly blessings responsibly. I hope these tips have been helpful. Enjoy and have fun!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

A Culture Junkies Paradise! World Beat Festival Salem OR

This past weekend was insane fun coupled with insane heat. June 29th I attended the 16th annual World Beat festival in Salem Oregon. 

(Me with Mariko of Takafuji Dance Company)

It was the first time I've attended this festival and I'm glad I did. I'm a bit of a culture junkie. I love to travel to, eat, listen, and look at the many cultures that make the world this cool place that it is. World Beat festival made all of that possible just 45 minutes away from home. 

          (Takafuji Dance Company)

             (Chinelos de Morelos)

  (Native American Pow Wow Dancers)

  (Native American Pow Wow Dancers)

      (Chosho Yabe Calligraphy)

   (Titlakawan Traditional Aztec Dance)

The music, dancing, and other performance art were my favorite parts of the festival. I wish the food selection was a little more diverse. There was your typical festival food, and a few ethnic options. Some countries/cultures were only represented by one food vendor if at all. 

(Elephant ears so bad but so gooooddd)

There were plenty of art vendors on hand. I counted three henna artists all bunched in the same area (not good). Over all I loved the festival and hope to see more food verity next year. I wonder how festival organizers might encourage that? There was constant entertainment in a beautiful outdoor setting. 

(More Takafuji Dance Company, my favorite performers)

     (Chosho Yabe Calligraphy)

  (Native America Pow Wow Dancers)

    (Awesome incredibly large tee pee)

I highly recommend this festival. Pictured are my favorite performances. There was a lot I didn't see or didn't take pictures of because I wanted to sit back and enjoy. Oregon is such a diverse state with so much to offer. See you next year World Beat!

Select images were provided by Mason-Cruise Gallery. All images copyright 2013 Mason-Cruise and Free Hand Mehndi. 

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