I strung the flags together and installed them in the garden.
This was a good project for me. I was able to try out some new techniques. I was also able to practice hand embroidery, something I hadn’t used since childhood. In preparing each image, I spent time thinking deeply about each element, and how it benefits my life. Figuring out how to represent each element took time and effort, but I enjoyed that part of the project. Here are some closeup photos of the series:
Today we consider the fourth in the series of Tibetan Prayer Flags. It is green, and represents water. Because I am so happy when around or in water, I feel especially drawn to this element. There are so many blessings related to this substance. In the form of rain, it is yearned for when scarce and cursed when excessive. Rivers, lakes and shores are places of rest, relaxation and sport. Today’s message is about the water that is within us. We are told that in the human body, water content ranges from 50% to 75%. I am grateful for access to clean water, so that I can replenish my cells. This flag is pieced together, with color-wash muslin and fabrics that I colorwashed and salted. The letters are written with pen and stenciled.
The third flag in the series is red, representing fire. We tend to think of fire as the flame tamed by man to do his bidding, or the flame sparked by a flash of lighting. For me, the most remarkable fire of all is the one that keeps our bodies at level temperature – metabolism. When this fire goes out, we begin to cool and return to the earth. The images in my flag are natural creatures, full of the fire of life. Special acknowledgment to Gustav Klimt for The Kiss. Dyed muslin, applique, hand embroidery and painted.
Traditionally, the second flag is white. It represents the air and wind, better known in modern times as atmosphere. The atmosphere of Earth protects life in a multitude of ways. In my prayer flag, I refer to the air in our bodies, which gives us life by infusing our cells with oxygen. The wind, which swirls around the earth, both pollinates and scatters the seeds of many plants. Thus air is a force in providing for future generations of the plants and all breathing things.
I have been taking a class in embroidery, so today I wanted to try out some of the stitches and techniques I have learned. The image I chose is the dandelion seed head. Natural muslin, hand embroidered, and bedazzled with trim and sequins.
In the traditional prayer flag arrangement, the flags are laid out in a specific order from left to right. Five colors represent the five elements The first is blue. It represents the sky and space. My blue prayer is in gratitude for the orbs of the sky: the sun and the moon. This piece is made with applique on dyed muslin, machine embroidered, stenciled and marked.
I have long been fascinated with Tibetan prayer flags. Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe that prayers will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. This thinking makes the hanging of prayer flags both an ecumenical and a humanistic practice. And while there exists a standard color, order and shape of the pennants in traditional flags, modern fiber artists reinterpret the flags according to the artists particular craft. They make a fantastic variety of creative works decorated with applique, embroidery, quilting, beads and so on.
I direct you to theprayerflagproject.blogspot.com/p/project-overview.html begun by Vivika Hansen DeNegre in 2011. For my prayer flag project, I want to test out the dye capabilities of my Jacquard Textile paints. I learned recently that the paint can be diluted with water and used as a dye bath for fabric. My goal is to create a mottled, pastel effect. Here is what I have done so far:
Here you see the dye baths, the baths with the cloths submerged, and the cloths removed and drying. The red paint works best, the yellow second. The blue bath tinted the fabric very lightly. This might have worked better on pre-washed fabric.
I used the left-over red paint to tint a few printed pieces of fabric: