It’s Henna

110904 jim public henna 5
110904 jim public henna 1 110904 jim public henna 2 110904 jim public henna 3 110904 jim public henna 4 110904 jim public henna 5

A few weeks ago as summer vacation was coming to an end I produced my most recent voluntary public art commission. My niece had returned from a trip to Hawaii with a small tube of smelly green goo–a lot like a fine pesto, really–for making henna tattoos. She had run out of time in Hawaii to have the tattoo done by an experienced henna artist, so, knowing that her artist-uncle was coming to visit her in August, she brought home the means for me to give her the tattoo myself.

Henna tattoos last 2-3 weeks, so their impermanence was reassuring to me, having never pigmented someone’s skin with more than a Sharpee, which would have been back in high school. I did an image search for “henna” to get a grasp on the kinds of decorative motifs common to the practice and made a small test tat on my left ankle to get a feel for it. I accidentally smudged it with my other foot after ten minutes, but the darned thing is still visible down there, three weeks later.

I present the photos above in the order that I made the tattoos. My wife, being the dutiful guinea pig, got the first and most restrained design, and then they got more involved as I gained confidence. It was a relaxing way to spend a beautiful Utah afternoon with my really very wonderful in-laws.

I’m told you can get like $50 a piece for doing these! Maybe a sketch-portrait/henna stand is in order. I always feel like a schmuck when I go long stretches between selling my artwork while other folks are squeezing stinky goo on paying customers all day long. Ah, the artist’s life.


  1. Looks really good! I see a booth in your future! I’d commission one on my ankle to stray people’s eyes away from staring at my big stubby toe.

  2. These are very good for a first attempt at henna! If you do decide to go pro with it, you can get the very best quality supplies at

    Henna mixed professionally with essential oils (especially a bit of sweet orange and lemongrass!) actually should smell quite pleasant.

    $50 each is probably a bit of a stretch, but that back piece could definitely fetch $30-35!

    If you do decide to go for it (and really, very few artistic pursuits pay as well as henna, if you’re persistent….so you SHOULD consider it…), please join us at the annual Henna Gathering (, held the last week of March every year.

    1. Thank you. My customers all seemed happy with their henna. I felt less pressure since they weren’t paying me. As long as they don’t ask me to reimburse them for the henna products they had bought for the occasion, I consider it a success.
      I appreciate your professional input:)

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