How to Henna a Drum
Riq and Deff

Purchase a drum with an untreated goatskin head.  Synthetic heads will not take henna stain, and treated drumheads will take henna poorly.  You can tell if the drumhead is treated by touching it.  If it feels smooth or oily, it has been treated.  If it feels dry, like your heel after going barefoot on a summer day, it will probably take henna well.  Gently clean the drumhead with a cloth dampened with ammonia or rubbing alcohol to strip off any dirt or oil residue.

Mix  henna powder into paste with lemon juice.  Let the paste sit overnight.  Don't add terps. 

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If you want to do a complex radial pattern, start by lightly sketching lines onto the drumhead with an aquarellable pencil. The aquarellable pencil will wipe off with a damp cloth when you remove the finished henna.  Brace your hand and pencil against one side of the drum while rotating the drum with the other.  This will make a perfect circle.  Move the pencil to different positions to make concentric circles.  (Don't do it as dark as you see in the picture above!)

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When you have several concentric circles, begin to make the radials.

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Divide the drum into as many circles and radii as you need for your pattern. 

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Sketch in the most basic elements of your pattern.

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Refine the elements.  If you make mistakes with the aquarellabe pencil, you can wipe them away with a damp cloth.  All the pencil lines can be removed with a damp cloth when you remove the henna.

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When you've got as much sketching as you need, begin to henna at the center.

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Continue working outward from the center.

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You can create a middle tone by applying henna, then quickly scraping it back with a pointed stick.

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Continue the patterning outward.

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Fill in the details.

Finished Drum

All Done!  All you have to do now is let it rest a few days, and scrape off the henna. 

Scrape off the henna

Use a blunt edge to scrape away the henna, such as a dead credit card, or a butter knife.  Sharp edges can damage your drumhead.  The stain will be light when you first scrape off the henna, just as it is when you remove the henna from your skin.

Rub with ammonia

The henna stain will begin to darken.  Rub the stain with a cloth dampened with ammonia, and the stain will darken, and the aquarellable pencil lines will disappear.  In the picture above, you can see where the henna paste  has been scraped away. The darker red part of that area has been cleaned with ammonia.  The lighter area has not been rubbed with ammonia.

All done

Keep the drumhead as dry as possible when cleaning it with ammonia.  Let the drumhead dry naturally.  The stain will darken over time.

This pattern is adapted from "Warrior" by Alex Morgan
available from Tapdancing Lizard Publications

Can't find what you're looking for?  Try:

The Henna Page Main Index
*"Henna, the Joyous Body Art" 
the Encyclopedia of Henna
Catherine Cartwright-Jones c 2000 
registered with the US Library of Congress
TXu 952-968