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Thread: Dumb question - henna for stain?

  1. #1
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    Default Dumb question - henna for stain?

    I inquired about refinishing a Flea top here.

    Has anyone ever used henna to stain a top? This just occurred to me last night.

    Back in the day, I used to henna my hair. It's a powdered plant you mix with water and leave on for a while. If you don't wear gloves, it will stain your hands, too. It's also used for temporary tattoos. You can buy henna in various shades, I'm thinking a deep auburn might impart a rich reddish brown color.

    Anyway, I was wondering if I used steel wool on the top of the Flea, rubbed on a bit of henna mix with cotton balls,let it sit for a while then wiped it off, would this work to stain the top? Would mixing it with water be okay, or would something like an oil base be preferable?

    Apologies to the pro luthiers here, I'd just like to know if this is something you think is feasible or just a dumb idea.

  2. #2
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    All you can do is to try it on a scrap of similar wood. Henna will probably work great, but there's only one way to find out.

    Stains done directly into wood can be tricky, but I do them a lot. You have to sand the wood really well, dampen to raise the grain, allow to dry, and sand to 220 or even 320, and then repeat that process once or twice before staining. The henna is a water thinned stain, and so it will raise the grain if you haven't already done that.

    The only other issue might be how colorfast it is. Does it bleach out with exposure to light or oxygen? Do some research, but you may just have to try it and then let us know how well it works.

    Good idea, though, and I do like direct stains into wood for a more old-time look to tints and sunbursts.

  3. #3
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    That's not a dumb question. And if you do a test on it and find it's worked for you, then post back here with pictures of the results.

  4. #4
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    Unfortunately most plant based dyes are fugitive, but by all means do the test. Place one half of the test piece in direct Sun, the other half in a cupboard where no or very little light can get to it. You'll find out within 3 or 4 weeks.
    Last edited by Michael N.; 09-16-2011 at 10:40 PM.

  5. #5
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    What does 'fugitive' mean, 'scuse my ignorance?

    Chemical stains are often the best but they are very aggresive and often involve chenicals you need 'permission' to buy. I have used dichromate of potash for colouring mahogany - traditional stain for this wood. If you really want to research this George Frank's book is an amazing and very entertaining read - his 'ammonia tent' errected in situ in a bank to correct 'streraking' in the stained woodwork of the lobby is an incredible 'wing and a prayer' story.

  6. #6
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    Fancy word. Likely to evaporate, deteriorate, change, fade, or disappear. Often used when referring to colour and dyes.

  7. #7
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    I can save the OP the time because I tried the experiment last year on a piece of cherry. Even after three weeks I had achieved only a very slight reddening of the wood.

    This was following the instructions on the henna powder for hair tinting, which required it to be mixed with a lightly acid solution..

    If you can discover a way of deepening the dye then it would be worth repeating, but for me it was a failure.

  8. #8
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    I have read about using coffee to stain gourds and wood. Ive used it on wooden jewlery with fair results. never tryed henna though but thats a neat idea.

    I've also heard about black walnut hulls for staining, never tryed this either. but I emagine anything with alot of tannins would yeild similar results depending on concentration.
    see the bottom of this page
    http://denevell_books.home.insightbb...walnut_ink.htm

    here is a gerneral article on staining the homegrown way. good luck with your experiment!
    http://www.woodworking.org/WC/Garchi...colorants.html

  9. #9
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    You could try Sandalwood. Usually the chips are available from herbal/incense suppliers. You will probably get a better extraction in powdered form. I made some as a tincture for adding to Spirit Varnish. I just left the chips soaking for a few days in denatured Alcohol.
    It can be VERY Orange. You might have to add a Brown dye to darken it. Some of the natural dyes can give very nice tones. There is a guide here:

    http://www.violins.ca/varnish/violin..._glossary.html

  10. #10
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    henna is best used to dye animal products, not plant products. (if that makes sense... It'll work great on wool, hair, and skin, but suck on wood, paper, cotton and that ilk.)

    You might have better luck with procion dyes... here's a link! http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/en...lnav=dyes.html

    Henna though, is really awesome for natural skin drum heads.. BUT, once you apply the henna, you have to basically sit the head in the closet and ignore it for a VERY long time, like 12-24 weeks.

    good luck!

    Kala KA-SC,PonoMC-E,TenorFluke,EleukeCC100,BushmanJennyTenor,Kala Kiwi,MakaiLK-50W
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