When I was a mother of young children, I often sent up a prayer for peace and quiet. What mom hasn't? But as my daughters have turned into teenagers who spend more time holed up in their rooms (or, in the case of the older one, at college incommunicado), I'm starting to think I might prefer the noise.
|Prayer flags (and photo) by Vivika Hansen DeNegre.|
Lately I've been praying more for peace of mind than peace and quiet, channeling my thoughts into small pieces of fabric art known as prayer flags.
The most common prayer flags are block printed with Buddhist imagery on a rectangle of loosely woven, brightly colored cotton, and strung together in groups of 10. They are always the same five colors and hung in the same sequence.
But quilters and mixed-media fiber artists have adopted these textile art forms, interpreting them in their own ways.
Vivika Hansen DeNegre loves making these little fiber art pieces so much, in June 2011 she started The Prayer Flag Project, inviting people to join her in making flags as a "living, breathing, kinetic journal of our hopes, dreams, and concerns." The project is a blog (theprayerflagproject.blogspot.com) and a Flickr group where anyone can participate and post their work.
Now that Vivika has become the editor of Quilting Arts Magazine, she has passed the flag, so to speak, to one of the most prolific prayer flag makers in the group, Jane LaFazio. Jane wrote about the project in the March/April issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
The beauty of the mixed-media prayer flags is that you can make them whenever you want, as often as you want, in whatever size you want (though typically they are about the size of a very small hand towel or hankie). I like the fact that they can be made from materials you already have on hand.
|My 'Peace of Mind' prayer flag
In my example, I used as the base a piece of a linen summer dress I kept and cut up after it had been stained. I turned over the edges ¼" twice and stitched them, then folded over the raw top and stitched across to make a casing.
Once I had the base, I rummaged through my scraps and pulled out two pieces of vintage fabric in colors I liked and machine-stitched them in place. I chose to embroider my prayer, "Peace of Mind," with embroidery floss, using the backstitch and added some more embroidery and buttons to the design.
Here are Vivika's directions for making a simple prayer flag.
How to Make Prayer Flags
1. Cut pieces of fabric to 5" x 11". Use materials you already have on hand.
2. Fold the top down on each piece of fabric and stitch in place to create a 3" sleeve, making the flag surface 5" x 8".
3. Paint, stitch, embroider, appliqué, or collage the flags.
4. Add words, journaling, or symbols as desired. You can appliqué letters, add hand stitching, stencil with textile paint, or just write with a permanent marker.
5. Thread the flags onto a string or cord and hang them outdoors so the breeze will catch them and spread your intentions.
The beauty, texture, and variety Vivika applies to her prayer flags reflects the aesthetic she brings to everything she does. If you don't already subscribe to Quilting Arts, I suggest you check it out.
Now I'm off to hang my flag in the breeze—and see what my girls are up to.
P.S. Have you made prayer flags? What moved you to create them for yourself or someone else? Relate your experience in the comments section below, and include a link to a photo if you have one.