Saturday, February 06, 2021

Mandala XXIX

(Above:  Mandala XXIX.  30" x 30".  Assorted found objects and buttons stitched to a background of patched-together pieces of a vintage pink-and-brown quilt.  The found objects were selected because I didn't have enough of any of them to use for a more symmetrical/repetitive mandala.  Most objects were donated to my stash.  Some of the objects include:  wooden parts of a piano, pinking scissors, clock gears, a cello peg, tatting shuttles, miniature locks, assorted sewing machine feet, a typewriter erasure, a pewter soldier, buckles, costume jewelry, keys, a Squirt bottle cap, the last brass lighting fixture, large wire paper clips, zipper pulls, a reading award, drapery hooks, aluminum can pull tabs, champagne muselet caps, hinges, and some things for which I have no names.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I cut apart the vintage pink-and-brown quilt more than a month ago.  Due to a few nasty stains, a damaged area, and a few blocks that had no pink at all, I ended up with more scraps than anticipated.  I almost threw them away.  Then, a really hair-brained idea occurred to me.  Why?  Well ... after posting one of my earlier mandala's on social media, I received a comment about mandalas. 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XXIX.)

According to this writer, mandalas are meant to be dismantled after they are completed.  I didn't bother to correct this person. I knew this was wrong. All mandalas aren't meant to be dismantled, only SAND mandalas.  I've witnessed the creation and dismantling of a sand mandala in 2015 when Tibetan monks came to Vista Studios/Gallery 80808.  (CLICK HERE for a short video.)  Literally, this sand mandala was just outside my former studio's door.  The ceremony was amazing.  My interest in mandalas stems from this time even though I've seen dozens of ancient mandalas in all sorts of museums.  Yet, the idea of dismantling a found object mandala intrigued me.  What would it look like if the concentric circles could be dislocated?  How could I capture this sort of "coming apart" or "spinning out of control"?  First, the base would need to be different, less perfect.  So, I used #3 perle cotton and patched together the scraps of the quilt.  There is no formal pattern, just the suggestion that there once was.

(Above:  Mat board circles cut using my circular mat cutter.)

At about this time, it also occurred to me that I might use all the objects that just didn't work out for an earlier mandala.  I only had three wooden contraptions from an old piano and three nearly identical pinking shears.  These could form the center .... just slightly off center ... the focal point that wasn't perfect and spun out of control.  They could be surrounded by circles of random objects and circles of buttons, arranged in overlapping ways.  To do this, I cut several mat board circles to use to mark the patched-together quilt base.

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XXIX.)

I had a wonderful time using all these random bits and pieces.  Like the earlier mandalas, this piece was stitched while stapled to a stretcher bar.  Yet, it didn't have an even outside border and after drawing all my circular guidelines, I also knew I didn't have enough edge to wrap around a stretcher bar during the mounting process.  Something different would be needed for the final presentation.  The rest of this blog post documents the mounting and framing for this mandala.

First, I measured the average size of the quilt.  It would be about 28 1/2".  So I had my husband Steve build me a flat-topped, rustic, 2" wide frame with outer dimensions of 30" x 30".  I cut a piece of acid-free foam-centered board to fit inside the lip of the frame ... and then cut it as if a mat.  The image above shows the frame in which I've tacked this piece of 1 1/2" wide foam-centered board.

This photo is the "flip side" of the image above.  It shows the front of the frame with the foam-centered board installed. Please notice that the foam-centered board is like an interior "ledge".  In order to have the mandala mounted on top of the frame, the gap between the top/flat part of the frame and the foam-centered board/ledge needed to be filled.
This photo shows how I filled the gap.  I just cut another piece of acid-free foam-centered board the size of the opening of the frame.  It was glued onto the lower "ledge".  This made the top of the frame totally flat.
I spread the mandala on this flat surface.  I pulled/stretched the piece while tacking it to the frame. 
So .. why this seemingly complicated "ledge".  Well, the next thing I had to do was to secure the mandala to the foam-centered board.  I used buttonhole thread and stitched it down.  If I hadn't created the ledge but used a full sheet of foam-centered board, I would have had to stitch through TWO layers of foam-centered board.  The stitching is necessary to distribute the weight of the found objects.  This method prevents any sagging.  The mandala is quite secure!  I also weighed this piece.  It is ten pounds.

 Finally, I put the "fall out" from the "ledge" back into place, tapped it down, and put a full sheet of foam-centered board on top to finish the back with a professional look.

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