Caught Red-Handed Podcast Henna artists talking about henna

December 29, 2013  

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My interview with Fatima was so fun. After we hung up I was exhausted and energized and kinda teary.  It was such a joy to talk to someone who is so passionate about her art and especially about Moroccan henna.  I often feel like I'm the tree in the forest which no one is there to hear when I talk about Moroccan henna. The henna world is all Indian, all the time and there doesn't seem to be space for Moroccan henna in that world which makes me very sad.  That's why talking with Fatima, whose passion for Moroccan henna far surpasses mine, was such a treat.

Collecting images of her work for this blog post was another pleasure.  You can see from the photos above that she seriously rocks the Moroccan Fessi style in a way that I rarely see outside of Morocco.  I get misty-eyed looking at these designs of hers...nostalgic for Morocco but blown away by someone who conveys the best of Moroccan henna through her work. What is also incredible are her non-Moroccan designs which are also executed with a syringe. Having tried to do henna with a syringe I can barely imagine doing Moroccan designs with them let alone the floral and viney work that Fatima creates.  I really love the pieces where she fuses the Moroccan with the Indian in a way that few artists can do.  In this sense she is a true Moroccan artist, personifying the crossroads nature of Morocco, picking up influences from all over the world and expertly melding them into a creation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

December 22, 2013  

I have always loved Sumeyya's work and have stalked her and her photos for years, but after "meeting" her on Skype for the podcast I learned that we are both Michiganders and fellow fast-talkers.  As always, this episode was all about what I could get out of it for my own personal use, as a bridal henna artist.  I gleaned some great marketing tips from Sumeyya as well as new ways to think about the layout of bridal designs.  I have a page of notes of things I want to work on and I owe it all to Sumeyya!  Even though this podcast is increasingly for my own benefit I hope that you, my faithful listeners, will find something of interest in it for you, like crumbs that fall off the table where the feast is happening.

Talking to Sumeyya was a blast; she's very smart and quick, but also opinionated, funny and grounded.  Being around someone who is so dedicated to the business side of things while having a high level of passion for the art of henna is really infectious, and a great reminder about what we are all here for, in this little henna world of ours.

You can see more from Sumeyya at her website:  Prepare to drool!

December 11, 2013  

I'm in a rush to get this out so I'll just post Bridgette's bio here and add to this post later, if time permits.

I am native to Vermont, growing up surrounded by mountains and forrest. I have always been artistic,  mostly a photographer before discovering henna in 2011. The soothing flow of henna quickly became the focus of my artistic energy. Instead of trying to capture a moment in time, henna allows me to be present. A quiet creation to celebrate and adorn in any culture or country. I feel blessed to bring this art form to people all over the world.

November 21, 2013  

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What a surprising pleasure it was talking to Neeta Sharma for this episode. It really shouldn't be such a surprise because everyone told me how sweet and generous and knowledgeable she is, and she did not disappoint. I don't know if Neeta could hear it but I was smiling on the other end of the line. As always, the interview taught me so much; I continue to think of these interviews as my own private therapy sessions which I decide to share with all of you.   You're most welcome!

I've been keeping an eye on Neeta over the years as I worked to hone my bridal henna skills.  She seems a bit shy about sharing her work and so I kind of lost touch with her.  Then I saw a bunch of her new work as part of a mehndi artist competition and I was blown away all over again by her level of detail, the fineness of her lines and the originality of her layout.  I kind of feel like I discovered a new henna artist but it's just Neeta being excellent!  If you haven't seen her work in a while you're in for a treat.

Knowing Neeta only through her work and her reputation I didn't know how the conversation would go so I had a lot of questions just in case I needed to fill time. Fortunately she is a fount not only of information about henna, but also very interesting insights into creativity and attitude making my job that much easier. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have more questions for her which will require another Neeta episode.

November 2, 2013  
September 29, 2013  
September 22, 2013  

Hiral and I are fellow wolverines from Michigan..though Hiral’s birth country is India.  I met her about 6 years ago when I was visiting Michigan.  She still saw herself as an inexperienced henna artist.  Fast-forward a few years and Hiral had rocketed to new heights in her henna skills.  She is a model for engaged effort to master an art form and the results were amazingly apparent.  Her path to super-pro included attendance at too many henna conferences to count (I exaggerate only slightly), constant learning and practice, and a trip to India to study with a mehndi master.  She even packed up and moved out West where she could find more mentors, as well as a lot more clients.  I think we can all learn from Hiral and her concerted effort to get from point A to point B, and beyond. I really admire her courage to go to India to study with a master as well as relocate for her art.

I’ve kept in touch with Hiral over the year through social media but we never really talked about the specifics of what she was up to. I was really thrilled that she agreed to let me interview her so I could learn more about her journey and share it all with you.  I hope you enjoy the conversation at least half as much as I did!

Hiral Shah has loved mehndi all her life. She spent the first decade of her life getting henna done every chance possible by her Mom, Bani. At the age of 11, she started taking matters, or mehndi cones rather, in her own hands and doodling over herself. This hobby has stayed with her over the years until she began her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. While she was studying for her B.S. in Psychology, she founded Hiral Henna, and the rest is history.

Hiral had a knack for mehndi so initially, she did not pursue any formal training for this skill. Once she decided to become a professional henna artist though, she began attending henna conferences in the U.S. and Canada since 2009. At these conferences, she learned how to do different styles of Indian, Arabic, Moroccan, Polynesian, festival, contemporary, and tribal henna. In early 2012, she also trained with Harin Dalal, and as a result, she specializes in dulha-dulhan and Radha-Krishna designs. She also taught at Henna Gathering in 2010, at the Spring Fling in 2011 and 2013, and at the Windy City Mehndi Meetup in 2012.

September 8, 2013  
August 26, 2013  
July 31, 2013  

At long last here is part 2 of my interview with Nic.  Part 1 finished with us discussing how to learn a new tool and this episode starts off with Nic’s advice on how to learn a new style.  Thanks for patiently waiting for each episode. I am trying to get them out regularly and often but it’s hard with a full-time job and my henna work.  I finished editing part 1 right before my trip to Australia so you would have something to tide you over, and then as soon as I returned I started editing part 2.

Antoinette's x-wing fighter belly!

Antoinette’s x-wing fighter belly!

All my listeners have been really kind with compliments and also with constructive criticism; the latter has been really important because you all alerted me to some technical issues which allowed me to fix them for future episodes. I recently received a really wonderful email from a listener in the Seattle area, Anoinette Hippe, who said that I could post her message wherever I wanted.  I was so happy to receive this message because what she describes feeling while listening to the podcast is exactly what I had intended. I am so gratified that, at the very least, one person got it!  Here is her message (and also a photo of the design of hers I mention in this episode.):

Dear Lisa,
My journey with henna has been a long and generally convoluted one (whose isn’t?) but one thing that has remained a constant is my general underlying desire to make henna more meaningful, both to me and my clients.
When I first started henna, I was given Loretta Roome’s book to read, and my favorite chapter was the one at the back, the one that talks about what it means to be a henna artist. Throughout the years, first as a student of a woman to whom henna is simply a means to support herself and her family, then as my drive to make this art form a viable source of income for myself, I would find myself pulled from the “meaning” of what it means to be a henna artist. When I would sense my disconnect, my lack of interest in doing one more stupid design, I would pull out that book and read the last chapter. And then wonderful things would happen in my soul, and I would want to be…”more.”
Tonight as I was driving home, I had a full hour to listen to the most recent podcast. It was hard, sometimes, to listen, because it was dark, and the tears that pricked at the back of my eyes threatened to blur my vision dangerously. I realized, while listening to Noam talk about his amazing experience in that Toronto festival, and again when he described his role as a ritual organizer, that I had found in audio form another source of inspiration, much like Roome’s book, to go to when I am feeling my least connected to my art form, to re-charge my “good juju” and to become “more.”
Thank you so much for what you are giving to the community with these podcasts. The “storyteller” is a vital role human history, and with so much competition (TV, music, etc) in modern life, it is refreshing to find exactly what we need in something so basic as sitting around a cup of tea and talking. That we are allowed to listen in is a real gift.
I thank you with all my heart,

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