Friday, August 26, 2016

Henna Tattoo & Those Patterns from the Internet!

Recently I had my first ever (in 18 years ) client walk out with out paying for their completed art work. I was pretty amazed. (Photos on this page are all those from that day. You can see they are bold designs and each client was happy with her purchase.) 

I do custom freehand henna. When I began to learn the art form I was happy to copy patterns from a book of a photos. However, it is quite clear to any henna artist that working from a pattern is not as easy as creating an original design. 

The purpose of henna is to make a woman’s hand (or hands and feet) more lovely. I will ask if you prefer floral, tribal, or traditional henna, or I may ask you to show me samples of styles you like. 

Every hand is different. Every batch of henna paste can be different due to the henna crop, the recipe, the acidity of the lemons used to make the paste or the age of the essential oils.  Sometimes the paste may come out a bit thicker than I like. 

I have become good at creating a consistent paste that is easy to work with and often gives a very fine line.  Sometimes if I add another brand of henna to the paste it may be harder to work with for some patterns people bring in. 

Lately clients have been coming in with photos from Pinterest. Some of those photos show henna tattoo, many are photos of Jagua ink which is a very different product.   

Many of these photos show very lovely but very complex and time consuming designs that do not cost $15.

Most people choose a design style that costs between $15 and $30 dollars. These designs are original, fit the hand, match the style requested and all can be accomplished in 5  to 15 minutes. 

As there is often a line for henna, I do not offer complex art on Saturdays. I do take private appointments for complex henna, but I need several days advance notice. 

To the story - the woman who did not pay for her art did so in a very cunning way. She came in with a photo from the Internet. It was a photo of art that was too big for her hand and too big for the paste I had that day.

I explained that I could not do that pattern, but I would use that pattern to a design that was as close to her request as was possible. She agreed. I was sure to stop after each element of the pattern was completed to ask if she liked the design.

She agreed with each choice as we went on. I explained that due to her small hand size the flower she wanted would not fit as was shown in the photo and that it would have to be drawn closer to her thumb than was pictured.

When the design (from the Internet) was complete, a $30 design, she said “I don’t like it.”  I have never had a client say “I don’t like it” to me before. 

I advised her that if this was true she had best hurry to a wash basin and get the henna off her skin at once! I had made a very fast staining paste.  She was going to have a henna tattoo on her skin no matter what. 

I was using Jamila henna and some from Yemen. The Yemeni henna was more coarse than I expected, and so I did many bold designs that day.

If you are new to henna, the time to say stop is when you first notice you don’t like the design. There is no point in continuing as henna must be washed off very quickly to prevent a stain on the skin.

I would never use a paper towel or tissue to remove the paste for a complex design that ran from wrist to fingers! That  would have left a smeared stain. 

I take pride in my work and could not bring myself to “take my art back.”  I advised her of the location of the closest clean bathroom and watched her walk away, out the door and to her car!

She made no effort to hurry to remove the paste. 

It was an odd experience.  I really do not know what to think, however, I will now be quite sure to refuse to do a henna tattoo from a photo when I see that the pattern will not fit the hand. 

I realize many people in my town are not familiar with henna tattoo. They think the paste on the skin is the finished product. Some think the henna paste on the skin is black henna. Many do not know that the paste stains the skin and takes 48 hours to develop.

I hope the woman enjoyed her art. Perhaps she did not understand that what you see (paste on skin) is not the finished product. I suspect I will never know. 

I offer Walk-In henna every Saturday during the warm season in Jacksonville, Florida. I am happy to work from Midnight Sun in Five Points between 12:30 & 5:00 PM. Please feel welcome to come in, and to bring that photo from the web. 

We will work it out. However, henna will always be different that the photo. Always. Promise! 

© copyright Ann George Studios, Inc. All mehandi by Ann George. 
Some patterns are from the web! (yep, it can be done.)