Monday, 11 July 2011

Spotlight on .... Headstrong Bindis!

Welcome to the first of a series of occasional posts - spotlights on some of those wonderful people who keep us all looking beautiful as we dance!

So, tribal sisters, you're looking fabulous in your beautiful costume. Your glorious hair garden is in place. You've piled on the tribal jewellery, your make-up is looking perfect. But still, there's something missing ... what could it be???? Ah yes, that sparkling shimmery, gorgeous bindi!!! And who do us UK dancers turn to in our hour of need (or even hour of just plain want!)? Yes, it's the amazingly creative Tracey of Headstrong Bindis!

Tracey has been adorning the heads of UK dancers and bindi afficionados for several years now - we bought our first sparklies from her when she sold via her website and and our Headstrong collections have slowly but steadily grown since then. She now sells worlsdwide and as soon as a new collection of photos goes up on her Facebook page there is a mad clicking frenzy as her fans scramble for first dibs (our poor friend Jan has NEVER been successful in getting there in time yet. Order a custom bindi, Jan!!!).

Tracey very kindly agreed to an interview with us so that we could dig deep and find out the answers to all those bindi questions we'd always wanted to ask. And here they are!

How did you first get into bellydance? Tell us a bit about your style and dance loves!! I’ve always loved to dance, having ballroom danced as a child, but never had the opportunity to do anything serious about it, until I moved to Cambridge. I saw a flyer for an Egyptian bellydance class and persuaded some friends to come along with me. It became a regular fixture for us, and even tho I enjoyed it, I always felt that it wasn’t quite hitting the spot for me, it was all a little bit too girly for my stompy-ass hippy self! I gave it up after a couple of years of trying to make it fit.
Skip forward about 10 years or so to 2007 and I got an urge to look into it again and see how things had progressed, so I Googled for classes in my area and discovered Nicola Kilbane of Bodhaia Tribal was holding ATS classes in the city. I didn’t know what ATS was then, but (goddess bless the internet), I Googled it again and was soon drawn into a wonderful, colourful, sensual, textile world of Fat Chance, Gypsy Caravan, Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Black Sheep etc etc. I made a call to Nicola the very next day and went to my first Fat Chance based ATS class that Saturday.
It sounds so clich├ęd, but I really felt like I had found my home, it just “pinged” for me and the classes were fun, friendly, instructional and totally pushed me out of my comfort zone but in a supportive way. I learned a lot about myself and others and it helped me feel more confident which has leaked into the day to day areas of my life too.
My style is Fat Chance ATS. I cannot do fusion to save my life – however much I love it I’m just useless with choreographies. I’m currently loving Fat Chance slow moves, I’m really feeling the power of them right now. I have very recently started looking at Gypsy Caravan tribal as well, which has some very pretty moves and has a really earthy folksy look and relaxed feel to it which I find appealing. Skirt dancing is my next big love, I adore these great big full skirts and swishing them around making pretty shapes and moves, it’s almost like being a child again. It’s knackering on the ole arms, but it’s so much fun and even when I’m totally exhausted about to fall over, sweat pouring off me, there’s always a little voice inside me that says “c’mon, you’ve still got juice for one more, one more!”.

When did you make your first bindi? Was it a success? Ha ha ha – my first bindi – gosh that was a while ago. It was back in 2007, I’d been online window shopping and watching YouTube videos and seeing dancers with these fantastic costumes and realised that there wasn’t anywhere in the UK that sold big bindis with heaps of attitude which could be seen on stage or during performances. I only had access to the little self adhesive ones sold in the multipacks and they never stayed on me. After a couple of dances they would fly off and land somewhere (usually unmentionable) and stay there until I happened to look down and notice a sparkly cleavage!! I wanted something that would have an impact, look pretty and finish off the outfit properly (and which I would notice if it started to drift anywhere – ha ha). The very first one I made was a success, I guess, I mean, it worked, it looked pretty, and it stayed stuck, but looking back now it was quite basic as I didn’t really know what I was doing. But hey, no-one laughed at it, so I consider that a success

How did Headstrong Bindis develop from the early days? (I remember your bindis on and your website!) Hee hee – gosh – you certainly have been keeping a beady eye on me!! In the very early days I just made them out of bits and pieces I had at home and gifted them to friends and then to fellow students. People seemed to like them, which took me by surprise, and still does to this day, and interest grew purely by word of mouth or people just seeing them worn at events and performances. I got a lot of useful feedback from people who wore the early Headstrongs and I started to increase my stock levels and invested in more variations of crystals and developed the style and shapes that I liked to use which I thought would be most flattering. We did some experimenting with spirit gum initially (thanks Bodhaia), and again more recently (thanks Christine Tillett) to ensure that I had the most reliable product to hold the bindis in place. I constantly trawl lots of charity shops and antique yards and the like where I pick up pieces that I think would be pretty and usable (and that won’t fall apart during the washing process). A lot of the specialist silver/semi precious stone bindis I source base materials from the net, eBay and jewellery stores (I love online shopping!) I’m forever on the web or in a shop! When I set up a page on Facebook sales really took off and the members of the Headstrong page are over 700 now which is amazing. I love being able to have a two way communication using that medium and I now ship out all over the world which is awesome!!

Out of all the bindis you've ever made, does any one (or type) stick in your mind as your very favourite? Wow, urm I can’t say I have one particular favourite, although there are a few that I really enjoyed doing. There was Deana Lawman’s goddess themed bindi, Nicola Kilbane’s ” bent for a perfect fit” bindi, Denise Piggin’s gold bindi for her Puck dance at the Dolmen Grove benefit and Anita Marshall’s set of chakra bindis which just flowed really well. It makes it doubly rewarding when there is more meaning to the wearer behind making it, be it a Pagan theme, a Nordic theme, a Wiccan theme or a healing theme. But then sometimes I just like to make them look purdy.

Is there anyone who you'd totally LOVE to make a bindi for who you haven't already? Urm, no I don’t think so. I don’t have any aspirations to stick sparkly things on any one person’s head. If you likes em, you can buy em. That’s about as aspirational as I get. I’ve made a couple for Carolena Nericcio and I know Sharon Kihara has borrowed Jesse of Moraia’s Headstrong bling, but as far as I am concerned a forehead is a forehead and I just want to cover them ALL in sparkly things!

You do some gorgeous custom bindis! Have you ever had to turn a request down because it was - well, a bit dodgy? Are there any requests that you would just not fulfil? (Not that we have any dodgy requests in mind - we're just curious!)Ha ha ha – who’ve you been talking to – ha ha ha! I am not expanding into pe/vagazzling if that’s what you mean! Yes, that’s a request I would not fill, for sure. If that’s your thing, that’s totally fine, just, ask a qualified beautician to do it for you :o) I am currently in the process of making up some peep hole pasties which is amusing trying to get the right fit. It’s my first attempt at it, so am not 100% sure how it will work out, but I’ll give it a go. 

How many bindis do you own yourself? Do you ever have trouble parting with any you've made? (We would have great problems here ....)Hee hee – I totally get that! At night with the lamp on most of my surfaces glisten and sparkle and twinkle and I sometimes catch my vision drifting over to the glint! ;o) I actually own 6 myself , and yes, sometimes I do struggle with letting some bindis go, but I have to or I would end up with a HUGE box of sparkly things. And to be honest when it comes down to it, I’d rather see it on someone else than on myself. That’s far more rewarding.

Whenever your bindis go up on FB there is a mad scramble for them. What's the fastest time a bindi has ever sold in? Who do you reckon has the most Headstrong bindis in their possession?Yeah, bindis seem to go really fast at the moment, which totally amazes me every time. At haflas and such you can spot the bindi table as there’s usually a small crowd of bellydancers going through all the sparklies, we’re all such magpies. Ha ha. I love watching people going through them and trying them up against their faces to see if they suit or look how they want them to. The fastest time a bindi has sold in, and it’s happened a few times recently, is from when I actually hit the publish button after adding the photos, to the screen refreshing and some bindis have already sold. It’s astonishingly fast! Who has the most, without doubt that would have to be Rachel Gingerfunkypunkfairy Kingston who has so many I have lost count, I am guessing it’s probably in the 30-40s. After her it’s a close call between Deana Lawman, Denise Piggin and Nicola Kilbane, although several people are catching up to them...

Have you noticed any trends in the time you've been selling bindis? Have bindi fashions changed? Yes, some things do seem to be popular and then things move on. There was a big demand for the sugar skull and skullycrossbones bindis recently. I was doing a loooooooot of those! There has also been a lot of interest in vintage art deco or pearly bindis due to Rachel Brice, Mardi Love etc wearing the vintage look. I’ve noticed that sometimes there is a push for bigger more in your face bindis and then demand will move more towards smaller, more delicate bindis. Accents were fairly popular about 8-12 months ago, but don’t seem to be so much now (or it could be that I haven’t made any for ages – oops). Whilst Carolena was in the UK this year there was a big trend towards the more traditional Indian style simple red bindi, I did a lot of those this year too.

Do you have any secret tips for bindi wearers? Urm, there’s the trick with spirit gum if you’re pushed for time. After applying the gum to the back of the bindi, tap the gum half a dozen times with your finger until you feel the consistency start to get tacky and then apply it to your forehead (or wherever else you want to stick it!) Urm, if you use a makeup sealant spray whilst you are wearing your bindi you can gently wash the bindi with some diluted soapy water and a cotton bud to get rid of the build up. Apart from that I think it’s just a case of stick it on yer ‘ead and boogie.

You've done all sorts of bindis, accents - and do I remember chindis at one point or have I made that up? Do you have any plans for anything else in the pipeline?Ha ha, nope – you remember correctly, although they didn’t work out so well. That part of your face is just way too active really. I also did some navel bindis as well, but without a really good mastix there’s a high chance of losing those as you dance, sit, stand etc. I don’t have any plans for anything else, but am always open to ideas. People quite often ask me if I could do something for the d├ęcolletage or nasal bindi dots or over eyebrow stuff.

How do you feel when you see dancers wearing your bindis? And is there anything else you'd like to say that we've not asked you about?
Wow, the biggie. I feel really humble to see people wearing sparklies that I have made. I find it incredible to see so many beautiful dancers in gorgeous outfits and a little (or a great big muthahunking) Headstrong to top it off. It makes me so happy when people send pics for the Rogues Gallery so I can see everyone enjoying themselves looking gorgeous, it’s just so rewarding and motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing.

So there you have it folks - straight from the mouth of the SparkleFairy herself! We have to say it was SOOO difficult choosing photos to include here ... so many twinkly beauties! There was lots of oooohing and aaaaahing and 'I NEVER saw that one!' going on! Thank you so much for all your hard work Tracey, and for appearing on our blog!

Until next time everyone, happy dancing!

Thank you to Tracey Wood for use of the images in this post

Photos of Tracey by Nicola Kilbane of Intuition Art. Check out more of her beautiful work and photos on Facebook here and on her website.


  1. Im so glad there is homage to the sparkly fairy, she has brought so much shiny joy into my life and Im sure she has for many others, she is so beautiful and humble the gorgeous work she does brings sooooo much pleasure to our lives but my golly gosh Im gonna have to go and count how many HS bindis I actually own, Im thinking Tracey has it pretty right but Im gonna have to count just to see !!!!!! I love Tracey's works of sparkly art and they make me feel fabulous, she is a shining star :-) <3 <3 <3 I know personally that when that little sparkly package is on its way it lights up my life and it is ALWAYS even more beautiful in reality <3 <3

  2. Lovely article and fabulous interviewee. :) I should just say I can't claim the third photo of Tracey - I think that was by her own fair sparkly hands. Just the first two!


  3. Love her work! beautiful. The blue one is my favourite :)

  4. Big love to the beautiful Queen of sparkles Miss T and long may she reign xx
    Deana x