Self-taught henna artist, Pavan Ahluwalia holds the world record for painting 511 unique armband designs in just one hour. The Asian Destination (TAD) talks to Pavan (P) about how she has integrated her passion into a successful career and also gives us tips on achieving the perfect mehndi!
TAD: Congratulations on being the Guinness World Record Holder for fastest henna and on becoming one of the UK’s leading henna artists!
Many of us like to experiment around with henna; during the excitement and togetherness of Asian weddings, applying henna can be a social event as well as a tradition. When did you see henna art as more than just a fun past time or ritual? Have you always been interested or involved in art?
P: It was at family functions as you said, where everyone would get involved in the henna fun and I wanted to be a part of it! I would do designs on family and friends and I started doing it at every function I was invited to. When I learned that it could be turned into a career I jumped at the chance as it was something I thoroughly enjoyed doing and couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. I did Art GCSE but my main foundation through college and university was business, which helped me turn my passion into a career.
TAD: What would be your advice for achieving the perfect henna? How do you ensure your colour remains even? It can be one of the most frustrating things to spend time on detailed, intricate designs only to realise the henna colour fades quickly. What suggestions do you have for enhancing the colour?
P: The perfect henna relies very much on the consistency, a thin paste ensure the flow of your designs. It’s essential to bring out the colour and after care is also important. Our body temperature also plays an important part in the colour deepening, so keeping the hand over the gas (at a safe distance) works great on making the colour deepen and maintains it for longer.
TAD: Many of us will be quite familiar with the ‘lemon and sugar’ (squeezing lemon juice and applying sprinkles of sugar to the henna) method to allow a better colour, do you have any other ways?
P: This method and the heat works great, however all ingredients are in the henna cone that I make myself so a lot of that is not needed. You can literally have the henna done and let that do the work for you.
TAD: You have already worked with big names such as Alesha Dixon, The Sugababes and Selfridges. Tell us how you came to do the famous Harrods window displays?
P: The Harrods window display was an honour for me, they had an A-Z of style in their windows and appointed me with the letter E for Embellishment. I embellished a mannequin with my designs and the display was up for 6 weeks!
TAD: You have become an established entrepreneur and sought after henna artist, are there more exciting projects we can expect to see you involved in?
There are! I will be announcing a few in the coming months so keep an eye out!
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