Marking the summer with henna

Keedysville library hosts teen henna party for summer reading participants

August 10, 2010|By BRIGITTE GREWE / Pulse correspondent
  • Sarah Hull paints a henna design on a teen. Henna was traditionally used in India.
Photo by Brigitte Grewe,

KEEDYSVILLE -- India met Keedysville on July 27, at the Keedysville Library Branch of the Washington County Free Library.

A henna art party was part of the Washington County Free Library's teen summer reading program as a midpoint prize.

The theme to this year's teen summer reading program was water, and the challenge was to complete 14 of 18 activities suggested in a given pamphlet. Activities included growing a plant, taking a picture of water and reading a book about water or a book that takes place near the water.

When seven out of 14 activities were completed, teens received a midpoint prize. When 14 were completed, teens' names were put in for a final prize drawing where they had a chance to win Hagerstown Suns game tickets, movie tickets or a flip video camera.

Many of the participants at the event said they were excited to get their henna tattoos done at the Keedysville Library.


As YouTubed Indian music played in the background, librarian Sally Hull watched as the kids stood around to get their tattoos.

When asked if she gets a lot of teens at the library, Hull responded with a smile.

"No we don't," she said, "that's why we do things like this to bring them in."

According to Hull, each Washington County library adapted a henna project from the book, "Mehndi: The Art of Henna Body Painting" by Carine Fabius.

"Mehndi" is a 112-page book about the ins and outs of henna body art painting.

It gives "a foolproof recipe for mixing the henna paste, step-by-step instructions on how to apply your mehndi design, insider's tips from professional mehndi artists and more," according to the description on

Henna is a dye that colors the skin, hair, and nails and can be used on fabrics as well. It comes from the Lawsonia inermis, a tree that grows in arid, hot regions such as India and North Africa, according to

When this tree's leaves are ground up, it is combined with an acidic liquid; it can then be used as paint. Traditionally, henna is used in a ritual skin painting called mehndi, for marriage and birth ceremonies in Muslim and Hindu cultures.

Hull's daughter, Sarah, 17, who goes to Boonsboro High School, was the henna artist for the evening. She skillfully painting beautiful designs on the hands, arms and feet of the event-goers.

Bradley Hull, 14, from Boonsboro High School, talked about sleeping with a sock around his arm to protect his new smiley face henna tattoo. His girlfriend, Lacey Smith, 15, also from Boonsboro High School, got a peacock henna tattoo.

The libraries were sent a henna-making kit, which included a powder that was mixed with water, Sarah said, but she chose to use a kit she already had.

"You can use honey, lemon powder to prevent from cracking and eucalyptus oil to add a smell," she said.

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