Thursday, 27 April 2017

My new Mehndi supplies box

I am doing a lot of Mehndi inspired art for a few months now, trying to learn more designs and patterns, coming up with my own, too. The one thing that annoys me is that I still have all my Henna related supplies in a paper bag on (sometimes under) my art table. In this baggie I have my mylar foil to make the cones, a supply of sellotape, spare stockings for filtering the powder and de-clumping the henna paste, just simple, basic Henna sundries. 
So I decided to take another one of my blank wooden boxes and art it up to hold my supplies, of course when I get to do Mehndi in public it will also come with me. 

I started out by painting it all black with acrylic paint, and after it dried I took a chalk fabric marker to sketch out my designs I wanted on the different sides.

I then used some metallic rusty colour to mehndi up my box.

All the sides have a different floral design on it because I really enjoy painting different kinds of petals, but they are all kept simple to allow for further embellishment with...


The light blue glitter in the flower and the paisleys was white in the little pack. Depending on how you hold the lid it now shimmers blue or green...

The best part about this is that I have sooo much glitter in my stash, sooo many different types of craft glue, and making your own glitter glue is sooo easy! I love easy! 

Making your own glitter glue also means you have greater flexibility, you can choose from more colours, how fine you want the glitter to be, and even how you want to apply it. I used an old paint brush but I have also used a mylar cone filled with glitter glue for previous projects.

The picture above shows one of the short sides of my box, the two holes are for a carrier rope. I have replaced the rope in the holes since I took the pictures.

So this is my new Henna supplies box, after the last bit of glitter glue had dried I gave it a couple of coats of thinned waterbased varnish to protect the wood.
Inside I store some small bowls set aside specifically for mixing Henna paste, some small spoons used only for Henna, my stash of mylar/wrapping foil for my cones, sellotape, scissors and it also fits a small notebook for my designs.

Confetti Quilt Scene

I had the great pleasure last November to participate in a class held by an extremely talented and innovative quilter by the name of Ethelda Ellis. You can check out her blog here

She was giving this class for my monthly patchwork group and she was teaching us a technique she calls confetti quilts. This is a great technique as it utilises the tiniest pieces of leftover and scrap fabric you might find in your sewing room and under your sewing table. 
Ethelda was so kind as to provide us with enlarged copies of photographs she took of forest scenes and trees, we each picked a picture and went to work to create a little quilt, approximately 8" x 11" in size, depicting what we saw in the picture.

Here is the picture I chose, I was drawn to the autumn colours.

She then taught us how to break up the big picture into small colour sections and we gradually built up the fabric and fibre layers to show the scene (or individual tree) we each had chosen. Everything was then covered with netting and quilted roughly with invisible thread to hold the layers together, but for me the great fun started with the real quilting, with coloured thread. I made leaf shapes in various autumn colours, chose a different quilting pattern for the sky and the underbrush. The only thing I did not get finished that day was shading the trees and binding the piece. I finally got a chance to do this during my patchwork groups last patchwork meeting and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I might still appliqué some single leaf shapes onto the border in a corner, to be honest, I haven't yet made up my mind. What do you think?

Here is a close-up of some of the quilting and shading. You might be able to see how small the fabric pieces are.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Henna on wood

Todays post is about an art fail. I still love the end result but I made several mistakes along the way, little things I knew better at the time and ignored my own cautionary council.
Recently I made a hennaed wood box. And I loved how it turned out in the end, the thing that bugs me is that it could have gone better. When you henna wood (or anything for that matter) the key is patience, henna takes some time to work and stain properly as well as heat, a little acid and sugar. The acid (eg lemon juice) releases the lawsone, that's what stains your skin. The heat makes the stain stronger, the sugar prevents the paste from drying too quickly and flaking off prematurely before a good stain is achieved. 
So far the basics, I have a lot of pics in this post and we will get to the rest as we go along. First up is the beautiful box without anything on it. This was a wine box at some stage, now it houses different treasures.

In the next few pictures you can see the henna design on the box, I had to leave the sides to dry in between so I would not smear the design as I worked along.

The following photo shows the front and bottom, the front was dried when I signed the bottom and you can see the henna on the edge flaking off a bit. Here is one of my mistakes, I had done henna on wood before and I had added sugar and had then trouble taking the henna off the wood without scratching the stained surface off. So I left the sugar out, resulting in paste cracking and flaking off as it dried. I also have to admit I was a bit of a miser here, I used some very cheap henna I had from a few years ago and had not stored properly. You have to store the powder in an airtight container in the freezer, else it looses its staining power...

Now you get to see the box after all the paste was taken off, the stain is usually quite light after paste removal and has to oxidise a little to mature to a darker shade.

However, below you can see that the henna stained the wood differently all over, depending on how and where the grain was positioned. I don't know enough about wood grain directions and its influences on stain absorbancy to make an educated guess about what happened here. In part I made the paste maybe a little too wet and so the moisture started "bleeding" into the surrounding areas, leaving the design fuzzy and with very little contrast, and in another part the wood grain messed it up, too. On the bottom of the next pic you can see how the stain is "supposed" to turn out, nice and sharp, a lovely shade of reddy brown.

Well, once you start the henna process you are commited to it, and as we are dealing with organic materials here there will always be unexpected aspects to the outcome. I left the box to mature for a few weeks, the stains took on a nicely browny shade instead of the initial fresh green they were before.

And then I sealed it inside and out with several layers of clear satin waterbased varnish. I usually thin my varnish with water for workability and so it takes more than just one coat to achieve a proper seal. The box looks slightly yellow in the next few photographs, it is not. But you can compare the outlines to the first few pictures with the paste on and you can see what I mean by fuzzy outlines, especially on the sideview. The outlines should be sharp and crisp.

I have stained wood with henna before and I will see if I can do another post for you, showing you what the outcome usually is. All in all I really like my little box, I like the design and even the "mistakes", it is a pretty reminder to not take shortcuts with this sort of thing... and maybe research woodgrain information for the future. Until then I might give wooden items a coat of acrylic paint and do the meh di design with acrylic paints also, that makes for quicker drying times, too. And greater colour variety... maybe even glitter?

Would you like to see the treasures I have in my box now?