Sunday, July 11, 2010

Always a Bright Side

Some dear friends have recently gone through treatment for breast cancer, so this post is for them in particular, but also in honor of any women who have, or currently are, or will be battling breast cancer. You are a brave bunch of gals! A special thanks to my friend 'C' for letting me use these photos of her. I'll begin by explaining how the piece of art in the photo above, titled "Always a Bright Side" came about.

When my good friend C, the 4th grade teacher down the hall, was diagnosed last school year and was told she would need chemo, she knew she didn't want to wear wigs but was concerned about the naked look of her bald head. But she's got a positive outlook on life, so I joined in to help her 'make lemonade' out a situation that could have been very sour indeed.

Being the doodler I am, I agreed to do a 'henna tatto
o' on her scalp when she lost her hair (yes, it is safe). (C, was it your idea or mine? I don't even remember!) Eventually we repeated the process two more times, until her hair began to grow back.

C said she needed eyes in the back of her head, for her rambunctious students, so that's how I began. And then it just grew from there, with no real plan.

Here's how it looked when we were done (after a few hours of crazy doodling and a LOT of laughter):

The second time, we repeated the eyes but then added a tree beginning at the base of her neck, with critters hidden everywhere.

Henna doesn't seem to get very dark on a scalp, so in an attempt to get the henna to 'take' better, we wrapped C's henna-paste covered head in cellophane to keep in heat and moisture as in photo below. (If we weren't already rolling with laughter, this sealed the deal!) Then she pulled a hat over it to keep her head warm. It was wintertime, after all.
And above is is the foot of C's teenage daughter. Cute, huh?

The third time, we went with an underwater theme. (Look to the upper center of the back of her head to find the eyes, this time two kissing fishies. )

The kids at school treated her head like a game of "I Spy" or "Where's Waldo", looking for critters and doo-dads. C said she never felt bald when the henna was on her head. And each time we repeated the process, we laughed for hours.

I had a grand time digitally altering the photos of C's henna-ed head. Then, for the framed artwork shown at the beginning of this post, I did a 'toothpaste batik' on some pink fabric that I then adhered to a mat. I think the title, "Always a Bright Side" is pretty explanatory. By the way, by the end of school, C's hair was growing like weeds. But we still have henna left over. Maybe we should doodle on our legs while sitting on the dock?
These photos below show a close up of the 'batik' fabric and an altered image that I did not use in the final product. IYou'll find instructions for toothpaste batik in an older post here:


  1. You're amazing! This post is amazing! C is amazing! This wicked disease is something that is so present in our culture. The telltale sign that women (people) wear on their head is heart breaking. The henna in these pictures make me smile. They make me see the 'bright side'. A smile, some laughter, and a bonding experience is an wonderful way to help a friend in a time of need. Thanks again for posting such a personal message.

  2. wow love this very powerfull

  3. Thanks for this! I am going through it at the moment and though I don't mind being bald (I can't see it, away from my reflection) I'm hoping to be well enough to attend a wedding in August, and today I thought up the idea of henna on the head instead of a hat. How pleased was I, to find your post when I Googled the idea? Great minds, eh?

  4. Phyl, I hope I never have to endure what C went through, but if I did, I'd send you a plane ticket to Omaha so you could Henna my bald head. What a loving, kind and beautiful thing to do for a friend in need!

    On a side note because you asked, my hair is about 2-3 inches below my shoulders and the white streaks kinda look like Frankenstein's bride in Young Frankenstein:) Pat