Following the latest trend, teens learned to create temporary tattoos during the Henna Body Art class at the John McIntire Public Library.Being a temporary process attracted Destiny Heeter, 15, to experiment with a tattoo. "I would never do anything permanent," Heeter said as she practiced drawing her tattoo design on a template. "I like to be different. I like it's all natural."
Heeter drew a peace symbol intertwined with a vine on the back and palm of her hand. She used a water pencil to put the design on her hand before using the henna. The water pencil was used as a pattern for the henna stain and washed off with water once the tattoo was dried. While the teens were looking through design books for ideas, Mehndi Artists Natasha Oliver, owner of Natural Notions Henna in Tower Studios on South Street, explained the process of putting the dye on their hands.
"It's just like drawing a picture on your skin," she said. Oliver said henna's history, the process of applying, the safe color and how long the temporary art works would last. "Henna is not black, it's never been black. There's no way to make it black," she warned the teens.
The black henna is not pure henna and contains chemicals. Each individual is different and not everyone has a reaction to the chemicals, but she urged the teens not to gamble with their lives.
Friends, Leanne Bash, 15, and Megan Balderson, 15, had gotten the black henna tattoos while on vacation. They did not have a reaction and did not know the black henna was not real henna. They took the class to have fun together.
"It (the class) sounded like fun," Balderson said.
"We thought it'd be cool," Bash added.
Friends, Leanne Davis and Shala Daniels, 14, had never had a tattoo so wanted to try the process. They, too, wanted to share the fun class together.
"We thought it'd be a fun activity to do together," Davis said.
After selecting the design they wanted, the teens drew the design on their hands before applying the henna. A thin line of henna was applied over the water pencil drawing. The henna mixture is absorbed into the skin. Some teens drew the design on their friend's hand.
Oliver said henna is all natural and leaves a reddish brown stain on the body that darkens after applied. Henna is a natural sun block and was used by the pharaohs to dye their hair. It is the longest dating cosmetic item, dating back 9,000 years and has been found on mummies.
A wedding tradition in India, the lace gloved tattoos have become popular in the United States. "A lot of people know it as a bridal tradition. The longer the stain stays on, the stronger the marriage," Oliver said.
After attending an Indian wedding, Dave Stout, reference librarian and young adult program coordinator, was intrigued. Later he saw henna tattoos classes offered and thought it would be of interest to area teens. "I've seen it offered at other libraries and thought 'why not here,'" he said. Teens paid $2 for the class that was part of the library's teen program.