Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alta Madness

Well, this past week was unusually warm, even for a Texan winter. I decided to break in my new ankle-bells since it was warm enough to finally wear sandals again. Of course, this meant I needed to start treating my feet if I was ever to get them in a pair of flip-flops! The nice thing about winter is that my feet stay pretty warm and cozy in their socks and bulky shoes-- so there was little work to be done on them. I remembered that today is tritiya, the perfect tithi for beauty treatments so I gave myself a manicure, pedicure and trimmed my hair a little bit. This was my first time trimming my own hair without supervision but I have to say it came out pretty good.
I  got out my alta and mehendi design books to start practicing for the upcoming Spring. I can't wait to decorate my feet but for now I practiced only on my hands.

Alta is a red dye used for decoration in India, especially in Bengali brides.  Nowadays, alta is used very rarely -- usually only by dancers and on special occasions like Durga puja.
You can design alta on your hands and feet too, all you need is some alta, a design book and wooden stick. A bamboo skewer, orange stick or toothpick can work perfectly, you can even use a thin brush. The art motifs I used came out of a mehendi book; I simply painted them onto my hand using a simple wooden pencil fashioned out of a skewer. I purchased my alta at a local Indian market, they usually keep it with the puja and decorative items.

The inside has a simple highlighting of the fingertips and dots on the palm.
More elaborate motifs: flowers, vines and blossoms accentuate the natural lines of the hand.
I'll keep up the alta decorating and post more images as they come available. The batteries on my camera died so I wasn't able to get better shots, these are from my mobile. :(  

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