Henna is a plant found all over the world, especially in Middle Eastern regions. Used for thousands of years as a cosmetic, processed Henna creates a dye that serves as a form of body art. The process requires the crushing of the Henna plant into powder, and the mixture of the powder with other ingredients to create the paste used for dyeing. While most Henna powder used for dyeing is pre-crushed, to get the freshest purest Henna powder you can crush your own at home. In addition to the freshness, creating your own powder allows you to experiment with various plant blends, as Henna plants from differing regions will yield various colours of dye.
Place fresh Henna leaves in brown paper bags. Seal and tie the bags upside down in a dark dry space. Allow the leaves to dry for one to two weeks.
Remove the leaves and place into a mortar. Take your pestle and applying downward pressure onto the leaves, grind them into a powder. Turn the pestle in a circular motion as you move it over unbroken portions of the leaves to grind them evenly. You'll want to create as much powder as possible, leaving little trace of the leaf behind. The finer the powder the more intricate you can make your designs.
Take a small plastic container with a tight fitting lid and place a nylon stocking with no reinforced toe over the mouth of the container, so that the stocking reaches nearly to the bottom of the container. Place five or six hard rubber balls into the stocking to weigh down the base in the container. Use balls the size of marbles.
Pour the ground henna into the stocking. Place the lid onto the top of the container and then shake the container vigorously so that the fine portions of the henna powder passes through the stocking into the container. The non-ground portions of the leaves will remain in the stocking with the balls. Dispose of the large unsifted portion of the powder.
Cover and store the henna powder in the container after sifting -- this is the base for your henna paste.