Make a Mega-Sifter
Do you have a lot of henna to sift? 
Do you know how to sew?
Do you have a sewing machine?
You can make a Mega-Sifter!

This sifter is very similar to the legendary Fred-o-Matic, and works on the same principle.  The henna goes in a double bag, in a tight container.  You shake the henna through the bag, then take the sifted henna out of the container.  The chunky stuff stays in the bag.. 

Get something with a secure lid.  A plastic pitcher, or a canister will do the job.
Get 1/2 yard of organza*, or drapery sheer* cloth.  Organza has a tighter weave than "drapery sheer".  If you get cloth with a very tight weave, you'll have very finely sifted henna.  If you get a looser weave, you'll have an OK sift, and you'll lose less henna.  
Get a package of bias tape.
You'll also need good sewing scissors, pins, and a tape measure would be nice.
You'll need either a sewing machine that has a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch, or you'll need a serger.

*Organza is a thin translucent cloth that is often used on wedding gowns.

* Drapery sheer is that translucent thin cloth that is used for drapes if both sunlight and privacy are desired.

Measure around the top of your container.  Your henna bag will have to fit inside that container.  Measure with a measuring tape or with some of your bias tape.  Add 2" or 3 cm or so to the perimeter length .... or even a little more. 

Cut a piece of your cloth that's a little more than half the perimeter of your container.  Too big is better than too small. For instance ... if the perimeter of your container is 12", your cloth should be 8" wide.

Cut or rip the piece across your cloth so you have a long strip that is a little wider than half the perimeter of your container. 

Find out how deep your bag should be.  It should be shorter than your container is tall.  If your bag is hitting the bottom of the container, it won't do much sifting.    For instance, if your container is 12" tall, your bag should be no deeper than 9".

Decide how deep you want your bag.  Cut a piece of cloth that is 4 times that measurement, plus a a little extra.  If your bag should be 9" deep, your cloth should be 40"" long.  

Fold that cloth in half, and put bias tape on the ends.  One piece of bias tape will go at the fold.  Two more pieces of bias tape will go on the two edges. You're making a double bag, open, so you can shake out the henna that lands between the two bags.  A double bag is good, because you might get a hole in one, and then you wouldn't get a good sift.

Fold that in half and pin it.

Serge the side seams, or sew both zigzag and straight stitch seams. Both organza and drapery sheers love to fray, so you must either serge or zigzag the edge!  The double bag should be smaller at the bottom than the top.

Cut off the excess, and do the seams again.  If you get a hole in your bag, its useless, so sew it twice for security.

Turn your bag right side out.  Slip the lid in to make sure it fits and the bag isn't too small.

Put the lid and the bag into the container to see if you have a snug fit.  If it's loose, you'll have henna flying everywhere, and you'll have green boogers for a week. If it's not tight enough, put a couple of rubber bands around the lid for a tighter fit. 

Put henna in the bag. Put a couple of coins, marbles, or pebbles into the bag to knock the henna around better. If you have a pitcher, make sure you turn the lid to the "not pour" position, so henna doesn't come flying out. Hold the container with both hands, and hold the lid down firmly, and shake, shake, shake!

Keep shaking your container vigorously, while holding the lid down tight until you can see henna has sifted out of the sack into the container.  Carefully remove the lid and the bag.  Your sifted henna will be in the container. The chunky stuff will be in the bag.  WooHoo! 

 You can shop for a henna that doesn't need to be sifted:
Many people feel that if they pay for good henna they shouldn't have to waste time sifting it and have to chuck out half the henna they paid for.  There are a FEW hennas that have a perfect sift!  These are available from Henna Page Suppliers.  If you want to look at particle size of various hennas and see if you'll need to sift them, go to Henna at 60x and check out which hennas have chunks and which are smooth.  Through a microscope you can see what's smooth and what's got chunks.  

All text and images on this page
copyright 2003
all rights reserved
Catherine Cartwright-Jones
The Henna Page

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