Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Henna Dye

To make the dye, henna (mehndi) leaves are dried and finely ground. The powder that results is filtered two or more times through a fine nylon cloth. This process results in removing the coarse fibers from the powder, making what is left finer and easier to use. The artist then mixes this fine powder with an oil (such as eucalyptus, nilgiri, or mehndi oil) and other liquids (lemon, water, or tea), making a thick paste. This paste is applied to the wearer's hand in various designs, which can range from large, thick patterns to Moroccan geometric patterns to traditional Indian paisleys and lace-like drawings. All depends upon the skill of the artist and the style of designs used. A solution of lemon juice and sugar is then applied to the drying mehndi to allow it to remain stuck to the skin and to improve the dying process.
After 2 - 12 hours, during which the mehndi dries, the wearer scrapes the paste off to reveal the designs, which resemble tattoos and last 1-3 weeks on the skin. While the color of the mehndi dye is a deep shade of green, once removed the dye leaves a color varying from light orange to a deep brownish- black. Be sure to keep this in mind as you look at photographs throughout this page. A word of warning before we continue: never use black henna. The black designs you see to the left show skin with the henna paste still applied.

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