Tattoos have become a staple of contemporary skin art. Many people get tattoos to follow trends or to express their art. Some have anxiety about tattoos, namely over one of their most common characteristics: permanence. A tattoo can last for years, and surgery is needed to remove one. Some creative techniques provide an alternative to this. Use either water slide paper or mendhi to make a semi-permanent tattoo. "Mendhi," Hindi for "henna," is used for temporary tattoos in Indian culture.
Water Slide Tattoo
Pick a design on your computer -- it can be anything from a drawing you've scanned in to a clip art sample. Size it as large or small as you would like. Reverse the image if it includes lettering, so that the text is legible when applied as a tattoo.
Test your design by printing it on a sheet of normal printing paper. Examine it to ensure that it is the color and size you want.
Print the design onto a sheet of water slide tattoo paper. Refrain from touching the print for at least three minutes, so that it dries well. Apply a clear adhesive sheet to the print, which should come along with the water slide tattoo paper. Press out any air bubbles.
Cut out the design with scissors. Maintain a close edge to the actual design, avoiding excess paper.
Wash and dry the area of skin for the tattoo. Dry your hands before handling the tattoo.
Apply the tattoo onto the skin. Rub it firmly, pressing down for at least 20 seconds.
Touch a sponge, damp with water, to the tattoo for 1 minute. Wait until the tattoo is completely wet; the backing of the tattoo print should slide off. Enjoy your tattoo.
Mendhi Henna Tattoo
Prepare henna paste. When purchased for tattoos, most henna products contain instructions for paste which you should follow. Otherwise, combine 2 tbs. of henna with the amount of liquid (tea, water or coffee) to create a mixture with the texture of toothpaste. Darken the henna with 4 drops of clove oil. Make enough paste for the size of your tattoo.
Assemble your design pattern. Use a stencil cut in the tattoo shape you like. Also print out or draw a prospective design and use this as a guide for your work on the skin.
Apply the henna paste to your skin with the design pattern. Lay the paste right over a stencil, if you're using one. If you are working with a printed or drawn design, employ an applicator. When applied, the henna should not be flat on the skin, but actually thick and elevated. This ensures adequate penetration.
Some henna products contain such an applicator. If not, create a makeshift applicator: roll a cone from a piece of paper that narrows to a thin tip, akin to what a cake decorator would use to pipe icing.
Correct mistakes by gently scratching at misplaced henna with a toothpick.
Leave the henna on your skin for five hours. Gently scratch and rub off any excess dried henna paste after this time.
Avoid showering for 14 hours after removing the excess henna paste.
Jeffrey Norman has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has been published in such journals as the "Leland Quarterly" and on the blog, An Apple A Day. Norman earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature and creative writing from Stanford University.