Hand Painted Botanical Prayer Flags
As a nature-loving artist, educator and spiritual seeker that appreciates traditions of cultures across the globe, I’ve enjoyed painting prayer flags in the art studio and instructing others in this sacred activity. Spring is a great time to consider a thought, a prayer, or a wish that you would like to manifest, then create handmade prayer flags with a symbol, or representation of that thought or image. Themes to explore within this project could include: Balance, Wonder, Imagination, Courage, Clarity, Compassion, Strength, Awareness and Grace etc. Prayer flags can be hung above doorways, pathways, in gardens, or anywhere wind and prayer meet. I like to believe that as they wave in the wind, prayer flags carry our intentions around the world.
Traditional Tibetan Prayer Flags
For over a thousand years, generations of Tibetans have created prayer flags as a ritual, honoring their spiritual traditions, ancestors, and connections to the elements. The Tibetan word for prayer flag is Dar Cho, ‘Dar’ means to increase life, fortune, health, and wealth, and ‘Cho’ means all sentient beings. Prayer flags are simple devices that coupled with the natural energy of the wind, quietly harmonize the environment, increasing happiness, and good fortune among all living beings. Tibetan prayer flags are hung outside as offerings, prayers, and blessings for the wind to transmit healing energy throughout the world. Traditionally, a typical prayer flag has a picture or symbol image in the center and around the image are written mantras. Prayer flags are designed to fade and disintegrate over time.
Collage Prayer Flag Project
People of all faiths can use the concept of the prayer flag by using writings, wishes, blessings, or affirmations around images that are meaningful to them, or to the world. If you would like to create a series of prayer flags to hang outside your home, in your garden, or over your front door, here are a few simple steps. You could make this a solo project, where you make five flags -or more or less, or you could decide to invite others to join you. This is a great project for families, friends, or coworkers. An engaging project that is highly adaptable to age, skill level, and artistic ability. There is no right or wrong way to make a prayer flag. The most important element is that your flag is meaningful to you!
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Pens
- 6″x 6″ squares of cotton fabric. Determine the number of squares based on how many flags you’d like to paint. This is an ideal size, but you can make yours smaller or larger. A simple idea is to buy a few yards of cotton muslin at the local fabric store, cut the pieces, and then tape each edge of the flag to a piece of cardstock as a backing. The taped edges allow the fabric to stay in place when wet paint is applied, and it provides a nice border edge when the tape is removed. Or feel free to paint straight on the muslin without backing, and fray the edges for a natural, rustic sort of look.
- Acrylic paints, permanent markers of assorted colors. I like Sharpie Paint Pens -acrylic paint in marker form that are great for so many things, especially art journaling, as they can be applied over most surfaces and bases.
- Water cup, paint palette, craft glue and scissors. Additional collage materials of choice.
- Paintbrushes -some detail brushes, some thicker brushes, small ink rollers and stencils -for simple relief prints.
- Thick jute or twine on which to assemble the flags -enough to allow plenty of string on both ends so that you can hang your flags easily.
Mixed Media Prayer Flags
- Gather all of your materials. Have them out and ready in front of you, but before you begin creating, take a few moments to prepare yourself.
- Find a comfortable seated position, and take a few slow, deep breaths to settle into your space.
- Consider an intention, a prayer, or a wish that you’d like to manifest. Examples could include something you’d like to see more of in the world, a trait you’d like to strengthen in yourself, or an aspect of nature that you admire.
- Leave a couple of inches at the top of each flag where the fabric can be folded back and glued/hot glued for jute/twine to be easily threaded through each flag for stringing.
- Begin painting! I think it is important to honor your intention and allow yourself the freedom to paint whatever comes to mind. Although it may be challenging, try not to judge yourself. This project is a form of prayer -and I believe there’s no wrong way to pray! If you are painting with others, make an agreement before starting that you will honor the silence and engage in the meditative process of creativity.
- Experiment with mixed media, painting, printmaking and fabric collage techniques to create a one-of-a-kind art. You can add hand stitching, stencil and relief print with organic materials, or just write with permanent markers. Add words, journaling, or symbols as desired.
- Assemble your flags and hang them with intention! Allow your flags to dry completely before removing the tape. Position them along the jute or twine, and be sure to allow plenty of cord on either side of the end flags, to easily stretch the flags out and tie them to something so that they can wave in the wind.