BOTHELL, Wash. – Henna is an ancient art form, but artist Sarah Walters is using it for a very modern purpose.
She creates henna crowns for women undergoing chemotherapy.
“It does satisfy that creative urge. But when it's also something you're doing for someone else, benefiting someone else in a positive way, and when it can be a gift that you're giving them, that's just a great feeling."
Her intricate designs, made of a plant-based paste, are like temporary tattoos on her client’s heads.
Lauren Russell has gotten three crowns from Walters.
"I'm long term chemo so I'll be on it for years,” she said. "This is kind of like something I can wear, and not wear, at the same time."
Working free hand, Walters makes up the shapes and angles in the moment. The experience is almost meditative.
"It's almost like when you get a haircut and you leave the salon,” Russell said. "You're really satisfied and you know you look good. It's that feeling, kind of being pampered."
But unlike a trip to the salon, this service doesn't cost a thing. Walters offers henna crowns to her clients for free - a gift that comes from a deeply personal place.
"My stepdad had cancer. He was only alive for five months to the day after his diagnosis,” she said. “I felt very helpless during that time when he was sick, so I think the fact that I can use my art to be helpful in some way, it’s important to me to be able to give in that way."
The crowns are visible for about two weeks, but the impressions on Walters' clients last much longer.
"For a little bit, people don't see that it's because I'm sick. They see art. And it doesn't look like just a bald head or any of that. It's pretty,” Russell said.
A note from Sara from our Facebook posting, in reply to a comment from Laurie Downs, "Beautiful but make sure if it's the black henna your not allergic to it. Leaves nasty blisters that scar."
Sara says, "Yes, this is so important! For anyone reading this that's inspired to go have a crown done (or do a crown for someone else) be sure you are using real henna, and not the mass-produced products which contain added ingredients that can be very toxic. More info at www.sarahenna.com/chemical-henna-warning."
Many people on Facebook wanted to see what the final product looks like, after the henna dries. It takes two days to fully sluff off. Brenda Sumner, shared this photo with us. Thank you Brenda!
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