Originally published in Sequim Gazette
Nestled in a booth of the bustling Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market, Patience Edwards sits and works on a comfy ottoman. A talented student from Sequim High, Edward’s forearms are adorned in beautiful, hand-drawn flowers. Across from her, customers patiently wait at the Wild Feather Henna booth for their unique temporary tattoo to be completed.
Henna has been used since antiquity as a dye for body art and textiles in a variety of cultures. The archeological record points to young women using henna to adorn themselves for celebrations as far back as the Bronze Age.
Today, the paste comes in a tube and is distributed through piping, similar to icing a cake. Not only is it chemical-free and plant-based, but Edwards says the traditional henna gives her more control of the art than synthetic inks. It also lasts longer than other alternative temporary tattoo options.
Pricing for Edwards’ exquisite tattoos begins at just $5, with the final cost depending on the design’s size and complexity. At her booth, she showcases a book full of beautiful design options, but she also welcomes customers to bring their own ideas.
Eager to try it out for myself, I approached Edwards with a picture of the stunning tattoo found on the Siberian Ice Maiden, a mummified body from the 5th century BC Eurasia. The design featured an intricate stag leaping through the air.
Edwards expertly replicated the ancient tattoo on my shoulder.
Having henna applied felt like a wet pencil on the skin—strange yet not uncomfortable. The paste takes about 20-25 minutes to dry. As it flakes off, it leaves behind a long-lasting, plant-based temporary tattoo in beautiful reddish-brown hues.
Edwards’s skill and talent are a testament to her own passion for art. Despite never having taken a formal art class, she has honed her skills through self-teaching and countless hours of practice. Her determination and natural talent earned her a place in the Advanced Placement Art class next year—another stepping stone toward her dream of pursuing art professionally.
“I’ve always known I want to do art professionally,” said Edwards. “Now my goal is to either be a nurse or a tattoo artist. Doing henna at the market is a great start towards getting experience.”
She discovered henna last year on a family vacation, receiving a dragon tattoo from a local vendor. Upon returning home, she saw purchased a henna kit she saw in an art store in Port Townsend.
“I used it all up the first day I had it because I just went crazy with it,” said Edwards.
Long before joining the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market, she had contemplated selling her artwork. However, finding a physical venue proved challenging due to her age. Undeterred, she revisited the idea once she became eligible to participate in different galleries.
Initially, she started practicing henna on herself, but soon was receiving requests for her tattoos from family, friends, and teachers, offering to pay for her skills and time. This encouraged her to take the next steps in forming a business plan and joining the Saturday Market.
Wild Feather Henna, Edwards’ youth vendor business at the Market, is a testament to her consideration and thoughtfulness. The cozy aesthetic of her booth invites customers to sit back and relax as they wait for their henna tattoos to be skillfully drawn.
As a high school student, Wild Feather Henna is an opportunity for Edwards to experiment with her career goals. The income from her business serves not only to save for upcoming life expenses, such as a car payment but also to fulfill her goal of adopting a horse.
Beyond the financial rewards, Wild Feather Henna brings joy and fulfillment to Edwards.
“It makes me happy being able to do something I like while making money,” said Edwards. “I also just like seeing how happy people are with the art I make.”