Many of us have walked past those cute henna tattoo stands, those you can find at popular tourist locations or at fairs, contemplating on getting a temporary henna design or actually giving into curiosity and having a design tattooed onto your hands. Mehndi, also known as henna in the west, is a temporary form of skin decoration. This form of decoration is mostly done by Hindus, but also by Muslims from India, North Africa and the Gulf region. Traditionally, the dye is made from the leaves of the henna plant combined with oil and other ingredients. The dye leaves a temporary brown stain on the skin. Today ready-made cones are available, in different colors, to make the application process easier. The dye is usually applied on hands and feet before a wedding ceremony or on other special occasions like religious holidays. In some cultures, it is popular to throw a ‘mehndi night’ (comparable to a bachelorette or hen party minus the strippers).
These days there are many skilled mehndi artists who are available to apply mehndi designs for special occasions. Mehndi Rouge, UK provides professional henna services and is run by mehndi artist Uruj. The Fashion Orientalist asked her a few questions about her profession and beautiful designs!
Could you tell us more about how you became a Mehndi artist?
I have been applying henna for many years now. It started as a hobby in my teenage years as my friends and I would often get together at various occasions to practice our designs. Over the years, as I developed a deeper interest in henna, I started sketching designs and it all started from there. I realized how creative I could be with a henna cone and the joy and excitement that comes with creating a design.
‘’I realized how creative I could be with a henna cone and the joy and excitement that comes with creating a design.’’
For what occasions are you asked to create Mehndi designs?
I have been very fortunate to be a part of so many occasions to offer my henna services. These typically include pre-wedding festivities in homes, banquet halls, henna nights, baby showers, and themed parties.
Tell us about your toolkit, what products do you use?
My henna toolkit consists of my very own homemade Mehndi Rouge brand henna and glitter cones. I make my cones with my own recipe to ensure a dark stain every time. I have a range of over 10 glitter henna colors as well to add a bit of shimmer to your henna! This can also be embellished with crystals.
Could you tell us more about the process of applying Mehndi?
For a bridal client, the first step is to have a henna consultation. This includes having a discussion about styles, dates, venues, and an opportunity to get to know the bride. The bride can look though my portfolio and choose a design she likes or also have input in which styles she is interested in. I also provide a henna strip application to show my speed and for the bride to be happy with the stain results. This consultation is key in ensuring the bridal package is customized to the needs of the bride.
‘’I adore geometric and floral patterns… My favorite styles are a mix of Arabic henna with elements of traditional Indian henna designs’’
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I adore geometric and floral patterns. Hence, my work is a combination of these two alongside any new thoughts and ideas I may have.
How do you work on your designs? Do you improvise or prepare a sketch?
I often sketch designs to try new creative ideas. However, when working with a client, I can either stay with a chosen design or be completely free to improvise. Often with party henna clients, I am able to improvise my designs.
What are your favorite styles or designs?
My favorite styles are a mix of Arabic henna with elements of traditional Indian henna designs. This is the best part of being a henna artist as you can draw from any style you like to create new ideas.
‘’The best part of being a henna artist…You can draw from any style you like to create new ideas.’’
What make you unique as a Mehndi artist?
My style and flexibility to create the perfect design makes me unique. I see clients in South East England, London, and travel for destination weddings. I understand the importance of the wedding day for brides and do my absolute best to give them a wonderful customer service experience.
Are there any notable projects you have worked on which you would like to share with us?
I have had the pleasure to be a part of an extraordinary destination wedding in Algarve, Portugal. I applied henna to the bride overlooking the gorgeous ocean views of the Algarve. Also, I applied henna to over 20 ladies who were part of the intimate wedding party. I am also working with local colleges to offer an introductory henna workshop. These will hopefully be up and running very soon.
‘’I applied henna to the bride overlooking the gorgeous ocean views of the Algarve.’’
For more information about Mehndi Rouge visit: http://mehndirouge.co.uk/
Images by JQureshi Photography