Every time I visit India, I try to get mehndi applied on my hands and legs… I love the temporary staining in intricate and detailed patterns. I look forward to sitting down with the mehndi artist, the whole process of mehndi application is a celebration and a wonderful experience. The feeling is a combination of a sense of peace and excitement whether you get it applied alone or as part of a larger group. The scent of the mehndi itself is intoxicating; the distinct heavy earthy smell of the henna, the strong fragrance of eucalyptus oil… all remind me of home and family.
This recent visit to India too I was able to get mehndi applied on my hands. Luckily these mehndi artists are now cropping up everywhere and you can find them almost in every market sitting on plastic stools usually occupying a bit of space in front of a busy store. They work fairly quickly and you can get work done beginning from the tip of your fingers all the way up to the elbows on both hands in about an hour or so. The quality of work usually lies in how thin of lines you can put down and how close the lines are. You want a very tight, neat, clear, and detailed look. The skin decoration usually done on the hands and feet using mehndi don’t last long as the staining penetrates only the top layer of the skin and lasts about 3 weeks or so.
This classical and elegant art form has been reinterpreted by artists and specifically the mehndi designs have been adapted to other art forms and across design styles bringing a new crisp modern, contemporary, or traditional look to this age old art. Here's my creative exploration of this fascinating art.
This project was inspired by the mehndi patterns that I was admiring on my hands on my plane trip home. In addition to the patterns and intricate details, I wanted to try to achieve a 3-dimensional look and texture similar to that of mehndi art. Similar 3d textured work seems to be all the rage and you can see them on all kinds of items décor items from India like candle holders, vases, frames, furniture, pottery, and etc.
Here's the step by step:
I chose a 3D opaque glass writer paint in gloss by Americana and it worked very well. The bottle comes with a thin tip and you squeeze the bottle as you 'write' with the tip. The tip of the paint bottle should not touch the surface to be painted or written on, it smudges the 3D look. You hold it a little above the surface and let the paint drop in lines as you move along, kind of like if you were writing/detail piping a cake.
The two peacocks I outlined in pencil before I went over with the 3D paint. All the other patterns I free hand painted and filled in the details as per my taste.
After I got the patterns down, I went over with a very very thin brush and the teal paint cleaning up all the mistakes and smudges. As a final step I used an amber staining paint to get that aged look. This ageing process was important as it makes the 3D lines pop and lends some authenticity to the old art piece that I was going for.
This piece will look good in my entry way next to all the other small mirrors in that collection.
|A simple mehndi done on my hands at a recent celebration|
Note: This is not a beginner project and needed a very steady hand but if you have experience piping and decorating baked goods you might find it similar. Do try painting on a scrap surface to get the feel of painting the thin lines, the control of your hand, and to see the workings of this kind of paint.