priscilla mandala 1Priscilla, 3-16-09:

Here’s my first attempt at following your directions in SASQ.  I am really new to this so am not sure that I’m on the right track.

RaNae:  Priscilla, you’re on the right track, and you did something that was on my list of things to suggest: you used wedges of different widths.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking about even more ways to vary and expand your mandalas, so I look forward to seeing more great ideas!

Priscilla, 3-20-09:  Here’s my second mandala design. It’s completely different from the first one except they both use triangles.

priscilla-mandala-5I think I’ll move the center point off center in my next design. This could become addicting!


  Priscilla, 3-21-09:

priscilla-in-vt-mandala-pattern3Here’s my 3rd design. Each time I’m understanding more.

 RaNae: Priscilla, you’ve done yet another thing that I had not thought of — I notice that the center of your mandala has 10 wedges, then around it you have divided your circle into 8 wedges.  It’s so subtle you don’t notice it at first, but it give an interesting variation in visual rhythm!

Priscilla, 3-22-09: 

priscilla-in-vt-mandala-design4Here’s my 4th design. I tried dividing it a little differently. Since I lived in FL for many years, it looked like flamingoes in the middle and Birds of Paradise on the outside!

RaNae: Priscilla, this is a great example of how using irregular shapes and placing the center of a spiral off-center can really change a design.  I’ve marked up your sketch below, so everyone can see the wedge divisions clearly:

priscilla-in-vt-mandala-design4-edit-jpgI love the idea of flaming pink flamingoes and bird of paradise flowers.  I’m already imagining black bead embellishments for eyes!  I think it has the potential to be “the” design for you!

What makes you (and us) see the flamingoes and flowers is how you have colored the flow forms — the spokes that flow into one another.  Since this is a sketch and an approximation, the next step is to draft the actual spirals as they would be sewn, and color this design out to see if you like it as well in color and to make sure that the shapes will flow as nicely in the actual spirals as they do in the sketch. 

priscilla-in-vt-mandala-design4-edit-2-jpgWhere you see the pink triangle in this sketch you may find that the dark spoke of the 4-sided shape below extends higher than you want for the flamingo’s head there, but I can think of two ways you might get around that.  One way would be to use a Nesting spiral and to make the first triangle in the spiral the width of the pink triangle at that point, so it meets the top of the adjacent spoke that forms part of the flamingo’s head.  The other option would be to insert a “filler” where the pink area is, changing the shape of the spiral below it.  When you draft, try it both ways and see which gives the better result.

 Priscilla, 3-24-09:

priscilla-mandala-5Here’s my 5th design.

RaNae:  Priscilla, this is another beautiful design.  Since you’ve clearly gotten the basics down, why not now experiment with some of the variation techniques I described in my “California, Day 1” post? Look on the main page, dated 3/24/09.

(RaNae 4-6-09:  Priscilla, if you decide to go with the flamingo design in your 3-22-09 entry (I edited out of order) my comment above may be irrelevant.)

Priscilla 4-10-09: Thanks for the explanation about making the lines in the spirals. It was so easy after reading your explanation!

Priscilla in VT Flamingo MandalHere’s a colored picture of my Flamingo Mandala. I added a triangle in the 4-sided shape so that the flamingoes don’t have feathers on top of their heads! The Bird of Paradise surround the flamingo flock which is looking for food in the water. Did you know that their pink or reddish color comes from the algae and crustaceans that they eat? Amazing what you can learn on the internet? Thanks for this wonderful experience!

RaNae 5-10-09: Priscilla, how is this coming along?  Have you drafted it in actual spirals yet?

Priscilla 5-12-09: I’ve tried drafting my flamingo mandala in actual spirals but I think I’m missing something. I understand how to draw all of the types of spirals and have practiced drawing all of them. I understand the shorthand for the spirals. But when I draw the spiral in one of the shapes, I don’t see the design that I saw when I put in the shorthand. Is there something that I am missing? I also understand about Off-Center Nesting and Perspective Variation but I don’t quite see how you decide the increments to get the spiral in the right place. I’m not sure if I’m explainng my dilemna but I can’t seem to get to the next step.

RaNae: Priscilla, it’s true that the shorthand is an approximation of the spirals, not exact.  As you become familiar with the actual spirals it’s likely that your shorthand will more closely reflect how the spokes bend.  That’s not going to help you right now though, I realize! 

What may help you is to read the document Nesting or Pinwheel in the May 7 post on the main page.  Where you need to control the curve of a spoke, you can use a Pinwheel spiral and “steer” the curve.

Priscilla 5-14-09: I got a good night’s sleep, reread all of your handouts, and looked through your first book. Then I sat down with a sharp pencil and my wedge and began drawing spirals.

Priscilla double wedgeThis time I didn’t try the off-center spirals (I think I was trying to run before walking by doing the off-center spirals first.) When I got to the shape where the flamingo head should be, I tried a pinwheel spiral. Now I can see the flamingo, water, sky, and Bird of Paradise. The flamingo will need a black bead for his eye and some black for his beak (not sure how I’ll do that yet).

RaNae: Priscilla, it looks like that good night’s sleep got you energized!  I can see your flamingoes and flowers taking shape.  I have a question and a suggestion. 

First of all, in the area where I’ve circles, I’m wondering where the center of the spiral is.  Did you move it all the way over to the side of the shape, or is it just really close?  I can’t tell from the picture, but remember that you do need all three spokes and center!

Priscilla in VT Complete Flamingo Mandala1The suggestion is that you’ve made all your increments really short, so you have LOTS of triangles making up your spokes, and you probably don’t need so many.  I think you could use a larger increment, especially in your larger spirals, and still have a nice smooth curve and plenty of steps for gradation, while making your spiral much faster to sew. 

The black for the beak might just be making one of the triangles on the edge of the spoke black instead of pink?

It looks like you’ve colored the two adjacent green spokes in different shades of green — this is good, because it delineates the spokes, and looks like two overlapping leaves.

I hope these help!

Priscilla 6-8-09: I drafted my “Flamingo” mandala and sewed a wedge. The pink of the flamingo did not look good so I divided the 4 sided figure into 2 triangles and changed the fabric so it’s now “Bird of Paradise”!

Priscilla in VT 10wedges BirdofParadise5-31Here’s a picture of the sewn wedge and a circle that I did to see the repeats. Sometimes the original concept just doesn’t pan out. [Click for a larger image]

RaNae:  Does anyone see a circle of green fish around the center now?  Priscilla, I’m excited to see your progress!

Priscilla 6-25-09:  I’ve finished sewing my Bird of Paradise mandala.

Priscilla Bird_of_Paradise1RaNae:  TaDA!  Godo work, Priscilla!

Priscilla: I’ve auditioned many background fabrics but everything takes away from the colors in the mandala. Does it have to be on a background or can it stand alone? I’ve faced it with a blue fabric because I was going to applique it on the background. However, I can put the batting inside and quilt it along the shapes to bring out the Bird of Paradise and the fish.

RaNae:  Priscilla, if you want to leave it round, that’s okay with me.  Something else you might want to consider is using the dark blue that you have around the edges.  If you extend that out from the mandala, you will effectively create a scalloped edge to your mandala that might be quite nice.  Personally, I find myself using dark blue a lot as a background for strong colors.  Maybe it’s just because we are accustomed to a blue sky, but it just seems to work!

Also, take a look at Mary Reddington’s Tropicale in SASQ to see how she incorporated spirals into the border.  If you do fill this out to a square, you may want to use something like what Mary did to tie together the border and the mandala.

I’m excited that you’re almost finished!  Good work!  🙂

2 Responses to “Designing Birds of Paradise

  1. Priscilla in VT Says:

    I’ve been paper piecing for quite awhile but often have trouble when putting the sections together. I’ve tried pinning, double stick tape, machine basting but with all of these methods the lines didn’t always line up. Now I put pins in lining up the lines and sticking straight out. Then I hand baste along the lines, and machine sew on the basting line. They line up every time now.

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