Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Parties are probably the most common event that I am hired for. Usually these are birthday parties for teenagers. Henna makes a great activity for any party, however, and will allow guests to remember the good times they had for one to four weeks after.
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. The last job I did was a Graduation Night Celebration. From 11pm to 3am I was slinging henna on happy high school graduates. Everyone in my line who wanted henna got some, and I had over a hundred designs of various sizes for people to choose from.
Before that I was a vendor at the Sherwood Fantasy Festival. It was on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Many people from many ages and lifestyles came and enjoyed the fair and the henna.
Lastly I did another Graduation Night party for Oregon City High School. The kids loved it and we all had a good time!
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Avoid black henna at all costs. Black henna is not henna. It uses a chemical known as PPD which is not approved for use on the skin. While some people may not have any reactions, others have serious reactions. Some of these reactions are swelling, pain, scarring and nerve damage.
Henna should always be a brown color and when it dries look raised up on the skin. Real henna is made from a powder that is green in color and mixed with an acidic liquid (lemon juice, vinegar, tea, etc) and sometimes essential oils. If the pictures shown to you are black and flat, that is black henna and dangerous.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. Just like any art form, practice makes perfect. This is not something you can master overnight, but it is enjoyable and worth the time and effort if you want to try.
Read up as much as you can about henna, what is safe, what isn't and what to watch out for. Some pre-made cones sold in stores, for example, are made with chemicals that are harmful; such as kerosene or other petrol products.
Avoid Mehndi Oil, also sold in stores, as there is no way to know exactly what is in it. Often it, too, has a nasty mix of chemicals that can at the least irritate the skin. If you want an oil for your henna tattoo then look at coconut, almond, or other approved skin oils.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. Where do you get your henna? This question is important because depending on where your henna is purchased can tell you the quality. Any online store that caters exclusively to body art or henna can likely be trusted, unless they are also selling 'colored' or 'black' henna, which do not exist.
Is it black henna? If the answer is yes, then do not hire this person. Black henna is made with dangerous chemicals that can cause serious damage to the skin.
What do you put in your henna mix? This can help you because different henna artists use different oils. Some people react to certain oils with headaches or other issues. If you have certain allergies, such as to citrus, this can be important as well because many artists use lemon juice for a liquid base. Henna paste can be made in a hypo-allergenic form, but only if the artist knows your sensitivities.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. What can you really afford to spend? Most henna artists require a two hour minimum. The amount of time you need depends on how many guests you are likely to have. It is best to give each guest at least 5 minutes each of your henna artists time.
Will your event be held far away from the henna artist? If so then you will likely need to figure they will have a travel fee outside of a certain area.
Young children love henna too, but it will be important to have at least one adult around to wrangle the children and help them keep from smearing their henna while it dries. Because children tend to quickly wipe off or smear their paste, it is recommended that their designs be taped with medical tape. This allows the design to stay on the child for the longest amount of time and give the best stain.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. While I respect tradition and am skilled at traditional techniques, I take my henna art above and beyond that. I venture out into new ways of doing designs and embrace the idea that anything can be drawn or done on the body in henna, not just sangeet or bridal henna from specific regions.
While I adore the floral and intricate designs that have been around for hundreds of years, I enjoy and even excel at moving outside of that box and making it something new and fresh. I try to make every piece of henna I do special for that person.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I get to be creative, work with a wide variety of people, and do something I love. Henna is about expressing yourself and I love that I get to help people express themselves while doing so myself.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Q: What is henna made from?
A: Henna is made from the henna plant. The leaves are taken, dried, and ground into a fine powder. I then mix this powder with a liquid base, usually lemon juice, essential oils, and sugar.
Q: What kind of paints do you use?
A: I only use professional grade face paints. I have a variety of brands, but primarily I use Mehron/Paradise. I also use Wolfe, Tag, and Arty Cakes.
Q: How long does henna last?
A: Henna typically lasts two weeks. For some people it may last longer, up to four weeks, or shorter. It depends on a number of factors; how often you wash the area (Like the hands), certain medications, where the henna is applied, and simple body chemistry.
Q: How do I remove face paint?
A: Soap and water. It's pretty easy. If you find that there is still a stain from a paint, use lotion to get it off.
Q: What is the glue you use for glitter tattoos?
A: I use medical grade body glue. It is often used in prosthetics.
Q: How do I remove a glitter tattoo?
A: You can use rubbing alcohol, baby oil, or lotion.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. I was working at a kid's clothing resale and had an older girl come and watch. She was fascinated and asked a lot of questions. I could tell she had some medical issues from how she talked and the way she wouldn't meet my eyes.
After her mother was done shopping, she asked if she could get a painting on her hand. Her mother was shocked, saying her daughter had sensory issues, but agreed. The girl chose to get flowers on her hand and was so happy and excited as she left.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. A few years ago I was going through a medical procedure. I wanted to decorate my body with good luck charms, but wanted to use something that was natural, safe, and would last for several weeks.
I knew about henna and so got some and used it. I was impressed and pleased with the result. It was also something very fun to do. Over the following years I practiced on myself, friends, and family.
The last step that made me decide to make this a business was when I decided to do henna at a small fundraiser. It went very well and from that I was hired to do a birthday party. Everyone kept telling me I should pursue this as a profession. I finally decided to follow the advice!
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I recently attended a henna conference where I learned from some of the leading artists in the country.