Welcome to the Tales of a Kitchen Witch Blog.

JoniRae.com is also the home of the Gentle Parenting Colouring Book and Goddess Dolls, and original artwork by Joni Rae Latham, so remember to check out the Gallery and Shop while you're here.

Category Archives: Art

Learn it: How to mix henna paste.

The first step is to make sure your henna is from a reputable henna supplier.  It is very important that your henna is a high quality, finely sifted product.  I get mine from Artistic Adornament because I trust them to provide me with 100% body art quality, fresh henna.  Their Artistic Organic Henna is USDA certified organic.  If you buy your henna powder from a store there is no way to know how long it has been sitting on the shelf, or what other additives are in it, and most people aren’t aware that henna has a shelf life.  I store my boxes of powder in my freezer.


Photo credit: Heather Caunt-Nulton


There are as many henna recipes as there are artists, but my favorite is the basic recipe provided by the woman that taught me about henna (Heather Caunt-Nulton):

100 grams of body art quality henna powder
1 – 1  1/2 cups lemon juice (you can squeeze your own organic lemons if you want, but I find this stuff is easier)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons)  of cajeput essential oil  (cajeput is full of monoterpene alcohols (terps) which get you the darker stain)


Photo Credit: Heather Caunt-Nulton


Pour 100 grams of henna powder into a large bowl.  I prefer glass or metal to prevent staining.

Slowly stir in lemon juice, a 1/4 cup at a time.  I just eyeball it, but you might want to use measuring cups until you get the hang of it.

Stir the mixture with a spoon or whisk until it becomes loose and easy to stir in the bowl.  It should look sort of like lumpy mashed potatoes.  You may have to add a little more lemon juice or henna to get it right.

Photo Credit: Heather Caunt-Nulton

Once it is the right  consistency, cover it and put it on the counter overnight/about 12 hours or so before adding the oil.  Then cover it up again and leave it for another 12 hours.  (Most of henna mixing is just waiting!)

You will be able to tell your henna is done when you scoop it up and the top is brown, but the underside is still greeny.  Stir it up again.  The henna should form a thick and smooth ribbon off your spoon.  You can add a little more lemon juice if it isn’t quite smooth enough.

Photo Credit: Heather Caunt-Nulton

If your henna looks like this, you did it right!  Congratulations!  You now have henna ready to cone up for fabulous body art! 

Now you’re ready to make and fill your henna cones!

This recipe should yield about 15 henna cones.   Just pop them into a freezer bag and store them in your freezer until you want to use them.  Remember that henna is perishable.  It should last a long time in your freezer, and about a week in your fridge.  I usually thaw what I think I need, and then put the leftover thawed cone in the fridge.

The  images above were taken, with permission, from videos by Heather Caunt-Nulton of Henna by Heather and Artistic Adornment.  You can check out the full video here.




Learn it: Henna Your Hair

I’ve always been envious of friends with red hair.  I think it is beautiful.  I’ve been coloring my hair red since I was thirteen.  The first time I did it with koolaid.  I soon graduated to the real stuff.  The sucky thing about going red is that it fades SO fast.

Then a friend introduced me to henna.

Henna body art is made of a natural plant dye (latin name: lawsonia inermis) which stains the skin and hair a reddish-brown color.  Henna is never-ever black. Henna paste should always be made with body art quality, 100% natural henna.  I mix mine with lemon juice and oils to make it into the paste that is applied to the skin.

I’ve been hennaing my hair for three years now.  I love how it makes my hair smooth and strong- I have crazy frizzy/curly hair.  I keep it long to pull a little of that down with weight.  Whenever I wear my hair up I get this halo of frizz that sticks up all over my head.  A few days after I tried henna for the first time I suddenly had these long pieces of hair hanging in my face, kind of like bangs.  And the I realized those were my frizzies- all smoothed out.

The other neat thing?  It doesn’t really fade.

I have a sweet deal with my friend Jessica- she does my hair for me and I do fancy henna designs for her.  I briefly tried coloring my hair RED RED in March, but I missed how soft and silky my hair feels when treated with henna.

How we henna my hair:

(Everyone has their own recipe and system, but this is what we do for my hair- written by Jessica)

Take a quantity of powdered henna sufficient to cover your hair (about 100 g for every 6 inches if you’re going for full coverage) and mix it with a little less than equal amount of an acidic liquid (vinegar, lemon juice, tea, etc.) until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.   Then cover it and let it sit over night.
-Dye release ( when the mix has little pools of brown liquid on top) may take less time if it’s very warm and humid or the henna is strong. The more dye that releases, the more that will be available to your hair and the deeper and more vibrant results you’ll get.   So try not to rush the process if you can.

Once the dye’s released, add a bit more liquid (tea, water, rosewater, conditioner, etc) until the mix is about as thick and smooth as really thick yogurt. Thicker paste won’t drip as much while thinner paste will go farther. Err on the thicker side of things since you can always thin it down.
Comb out the hair and divide into four sections.
With a tint brush begin painting the henna on to the hair at the nape scalp line.  Thoroughly cover the roots and don’t worry about getting it on the scalp- henna is good for dandruff.
Put more on the length of the hair until it’s covered- but not too much.  Divide off the next inch up, cover the roots and the the length of the hair and repeat until the whole head is covered.
Make sure the little whispies are covered but try to keep the henna off your skin.
It won’t hurt you but may stain a bit. Some people put some cold cream along their hairline but I never bother.
Joni here: I feel the need to add that I, however, get all freaked out about henna on my skin and scrub and scrape my face and neck repeatedly until it is time to wash it out of my hair.

See? I’m miserable.
Jessica laughs at me.  But I can’t stand that trickling, smelly, smushy mess.

Cover the hair with plastic wrap.  I cut a plastic shopping bag down one long side and tie the loops on the back.
Cover with a scarf or towel for warmth and let it sit for at least two hours. Longer exposure will yield darker results. If you can sleep on a headful of mud and plastic go for it.

When you’re ready to wash it out, take a bath. Soaking the henna out of the hair in the tub is the easiest way. Once it feels like most of the henna is out work a few gobs of cheap conditioner into the hair and scalp. Rinse that out. You may have to do that one more time to get it all out.  Don’t shampoo for at least a day.

Joni here again: Instead of a bath, I take a shower and alternate scrubbing furiously under the shower head with kneeling in the tub with my head tipped under the tub faucet.  It is like a scene from Carrie- I swear.

I am not fond of the process, but I truly LOVE the result and it is worth all the annoying bits.

If you want to purchase henna for yourself, whether for hair or body art, I suggest you use Artistic Adornment– which I can personally vouch for because it is run by a friend and it is where I get my henna.  This is super fresh and pure body art quality henna.


Oh yeah- and here is what I did for Jessica in exchange for my muddy hair (cough) I mean AWESOME HENNA JOB ON MY HAIR:

Pretty!  The OCD part of me is noticing a few lines aren’t laid out straight, but hell- I did a decent job considering it was two o’clock in the morning!