Archives for posts with tag: non-toxic
orange: beautiful in many ways

orange: beautiful in many ways

A few weeks ago, I shared a link to a video that showed how easy and inexpensive (and non-toxic) it can be to make one’s own hairspray.

Shortly after, I went out and bought myself an orange (something that I normally don’t buy) and some rum (another thing I don’t buy… I’m a gin or scotch girl!) and went about making me some home-brewed hairspray.

The results: I find that it maintains a gentle hold, and smells very nice. My head smells faintly like an orange daiquiri! Not unpleasant at all. When it was very hot and humid, and I needed to perk my hair up a bit for a wedding event, I used a blow dryer on my dampened, hairsprayed hair. This added a lot of body. I then styled it, gave a short squirt, and presto I was done. It held its shape pretty well, again not rock solid like an AquaNet net.

Final Words: I would recommend trying this. It took only a few minutes, and the price of an orange and a drop of rum. You can use rubbing alcohol, if you have it, instead. I’ll try boiling it down a little more next time, to see if the hold increases.

I am glad to not support an industry where the bottles have dozens of mysterious ingredients on the label!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

A few months back I decided to never dye my hair again. Knowing that the toxic chemicals used in hair dye are linked to cancers, why on earth would I opt to have contact with this stuff? Also, with a bit of white hair coming in, I knew it would only be a matter of time until I would be trapped in the cycle of constantly colouring to keep the impending greys at bay. So I decided to just grin and bear it, look my age, and deal with what nature decided was best.

In all honesty, though, I missed being called “Red” sometimes. I missed seeing my strawberry blond or copper tones in the sun. In choosing to not go for a toxic soup while missing the colourfulness of past days, I was lucky to find an alternative.

it's happening!

In conversation with my Herbalist (Tammy Schmidt, CHT) I recalled that when I was a teen, I had used henna on my hair a few times. I would always go red or copper. I liked it, but eventually changed over to regular hair dye, as it was more convenient for me then. 

Turns out that using henna on the hair is not only safe to do, but some find the process and tradition to be spiritual and rejuvenating, as well as beautifying. Here I will describe a bit about the process that I went through the other evening when I made time to henna my hair. (Thanks to my Herbalist to provide me with information about the process, and for finding me some very good quality, organic henna!)

The experience: After reading instructions and suggestions, I mixed up a subtle and conservative colour mixture that would add a touch of colour to my hair. (In the future I think I will be more daring.) When I had my wonderfully pungent mixture ready, I globbed the henna onto my hair, eventually slapping on piles of the aromatic organic goo. It stuck to my head with the consistency of clay.

Because one ingredient was boiling water, the henna mixture was nice and warm.

post-henna lighter bits

Not only did my hair and scalp get a wonderful herbal treatment, but the warmth was very calming. Another benefit for my skin was the organic olive oil I rubbed into my hairline, forehead, hands, and all over my ears beforehand. This action was in order to prevent the henna from dyeing those parts of me, but a side-benefit was a good moisturizing.

I have never moisturized my ears, before!

post-henna darker bits

When I used old Ms Clairol, I would always have a drip or two of unruly colour left over on my neck or ears… this time that didn’t happen. The aroma was rich, and natural feeling and smelling. With toxic dyes, the smell is a chemical odour or a fake perfumed stench. While my hair was wrapped up and I waited for the magic to happen, I felt good. It is hard to explain, but using a natural plant-based dye made me feel connected to culture and nature, in a way that buying into stinky and mysterious chemicals does not do. I will never dye my hair again… but will continue to henna!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

From “David Suzuki’s Queen of Green“, comes this Youtube video:

I am a fan of hers on Facebook. I love Facebook for the tailored information and priceless international contacts I’ve made.

All that aside, though, I am looking forward to buying an orange and a little rum to make my OWN hairspray!

Oh, yes!!!

 Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Dust bunnies

dust bunnies, just in time for Easter

A Sweeping Epic: An Epic Sweeping.

In recent weeks I’ve been feeling a stirring, an urge… and it cannot be denied much longer. Obsession. Thoughts drifting off at highly inappropriate times. Should I do it? Am I ready? I break into a nervous sweat. Getting ready to… clean.

In pre-Spring-cleaning mode, I am thinking about my methods of attack. To tackle the more persistent dust bunnies before, or after dusting the shelves? Should I just sweep really well, or invest in having my vacuum fixed? The little details are something of a luxury for me, details that for a different type of person would be more of a necessity.

I am not a slob! I do not embrace a messy lifestyle, nor do I endorse living amongst personal rubble. However, it might appear that way. I call this: Being Busy. I also call this: Putting On The Necessary Blinkers. Sometimes we have to “put our blinkers on”, so that we don’t see things that we can’t deal with at the moment. I think everyone does this. Perhaps not everyone does it in regards to dust bunnies and heaps of miscellaneous papers, but I do.

I am inspired to use natural, home-mixed cleaning agents this year. Earlier, Tammy had written an article that gave the recipes for them, and it’s most certainly time for me to give it a whirl. Thus far I’ve been non-toxic, in that I really haven’t cleaned properly since moving into my place… a while… ago.

ah, my pretty floor. Soon you will be seen and gleaming again. The same goes for the other surfaces in my home, sweet home.

While cleaning, I am going to re-arrange my home. I like to increase functionality (and feng shui, if I can manage that too, well, bonus!) in my home whenever possible. There are so many inspirational magazines (paper and on-line) as well as home-decor books from the library! I could look at painting a wall, getting some more shelves… Wait. This smells faintly of procrastination. Right, I’ll just start with the cleaning and let the decoration happen later. Willpower, be mine!

Two things are made a lot easier by warmer weather: leaving windows open, and leaving “stuff” out on the street. A small sign: “A Donner, Free” and I’m happier and so is someone else.

A win-win situation, this de-cluttering. Hello, Spring! Bye-bye TV! Bye-bye VCR!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

experimenting with some simple natural pigments, pouring and spraying

Lately, our neighbourhood has been decorated with something like Earth Art crossed with graffiti crossed with scenes from an herbalist’s laboratory. We have been practicing and experimenting with “Snow Painting”: using herbs and vegetables as dyes to apply to snow and ice.

practice pouring, seeing what the colours will do

 As part of an artistic process (similar to dyeing fibres, mixing paints from scratch, or crafting makeup) non-toxic Snow Painting is fun, always has an element of unpredictability, and maintains many factors that can affect the final effect.

Join us in these curious experiments at Nuit Blanche, this Saturday 26th from 3pm to about 9pm, in the Griffintown Cultural Corridor (956 Ottawa, and 141 Ann) in Montreal.

red cabbage is like magic... see us to believe it

Having practiced and experimented with our new craft, we are confident that our collaborative effort will yield a beautiful “painting” in the snow for all to enjoy. We will also have a community-participatory location, in which people can try some Snow Painting for themselves.

We are on the free shuttle bus, (Wellington and Ann) so add us to your list of fun things to see that eve!

by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

In This World solo exhibition in BC a few years back

As some of you may know, I am a painter. I paint in oils, which are a lush and rich material. Pigment is suspended in oil, it slowly dries, it holds its body and texture and translucency… it is like painting with light. Who wouldn’t want to paint with light? It sounds like magic, like miracles. Like painting with rainbows. You layer this suspended pigment over other layers of suspended pigment, time passes, it dries so slowly… slowly. Because of the intensely slow drying time of oils, many artists add in products and other things that are not oil to make the oil dry a bit faster. Up until very recently, and then starting again yesterday, I used Alkyd Medium. There are a few options out there for that stuff, and I use the Gamblin one. With this “goo”, a layer of paint will be pretty much dry within a day. This is important for an artist who is always inspired to paint, and who sells her paintings to make a large chunk of her living. We’re talking practicalities, here. (Don’t even get me started on the feeling I get when I think about the painters who have come before me, the links to a shared history and a huge family of painters. Maybe some other time I will wax historical and poetic about that.)

I take issue, though, with needing to buy “product” in order to paint. I am even leaning away from the idea of using store-bought pigments. With my friend, Tammy the Herbalist, I have been discussing natural dyes and pigments. I like the idea of gathering plants and natural substances and using them to make my own paints.

Bucka! Bucka!

I recently saw (and was very moved by) the Otto Dix show at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal. Otto Dix would use mixed media in his paintings, and lots of egg tempera. I want to paint with egg tempera! It is an age-old method of applying pigments to canvas. Why not? I would start with buying free-range eggs for the paint, and, hoping that the bylaw to allow chickens on the Island of Montreal will pass, one day might raise my own hens for egg-eating and paint-making!

Cluck 'N' Lurt, my cartoon chickens (Lurt is the round one)

I had chickens when I was a kid, an illegal arrangement in a small town. My Dad always wanted a farm, and this was as close as he could get. My neighbours enjoyed very cheap, excellent eggs for many years, ’til a newbie blew the whistle. Anyhow, I am interested in using a mixture of eggs, oils, and natural pigments that I would mix in glass jars all by myself. No more need to buy things in throw-away tubes, no more throw-away glass with resin hardened to the inside of it.

I had my first urge to go Herbal in my painting a couple of years back. While perusing all the little bottles of “stuff” that one could add to their paints at a major art-supply store, I saw a bottle of “Oil of Spike Lavender”. In with the toxic paint mediums was one of my all-time favorite scents/tastes/herbs. Lavender… oooh! So I bought it, thinking that it would add a lovely working-smell to my paints. It does, it did. However, I finally did read the small print (come to think of it, it’s all small print on this little tiny bottle) and what? What? It contains a petroleum product, and they actually say to not breathe the fumes. I will use Oil of Lavender in my works, in the future… just it will be a more pure extract!

Lavender... can't you just smell this???

A part of my rationale for change is based on health, outside of environmental concerns. I know I’d need to be careful about loose pigments, and I would buy a respirator. If I succumbed to buying loose pigment from the loose-pigment place, Kama, then I would most certainly do this. I would stop using cadmium and cobalt, no question about THAT one.

What changes will happen within my work? Only time will tell. Time will always be an internal and eternal aspect of painting, and especially of oil painting. Like many changes, this should be pretty exciting and a challenge.

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