Butterfly Mandala

This is what happened.  My (not so) new apartment has very tall ceilings and once I got things arranged to my liking, I found I had a very tall empty wall over my bed.  I wanted something big to put there that would fit with the India-inspired color scheme — bright orange curtains, pink rug, yellow throw pillows, multi-colored bed scarf.  Lots of thinking, looking at pictures on the interwebs, more thinking.

In October, I became obsessed with paper maché and made a dio de los muertos mask.  Around the same time, I became obsessed with mandalas, so I decided to make a giant paper maché mandala for my wall.  I put it together with cardboard, newspaper, flour paste, and gesso, but then came the difficulty of deciding how to decorate it.  Paint? Collage? Fabric?  I stared at it for a few more weeks, tried collage but it looked like crap so I peeled it off and stared at it for another week or so, painted one design and hated it, gessoed over it, stared at it again.

Butterfly Mandala

After a few more false starts, I got the idea to use butterfly wings as inspiration — butterflies having an important symbolic meaning in my life.  The designs in each of the mandala petals are copied from different kinds of butterflies, but I used monarch coloring throughout.  After staring at it for another week or so, I decided on a simple flower in the middle.

Butterfly Mandala

Since I only used paper maché on one side of the cardboard, it pulled the cardboard into a convex shape as it dried, adding to the three-dimensional quality.  You can’t quite see it in the photos, but the inside section is cut out, adding more dimension.  I didn’t put any kind of hanger on the back, so I just drilled right through it with a couple of wood screws, which are black and disappear in the black paint.  It measures 38 inches across but looks smaller on the giant wall.

It’s really dramatic — very colorful and almost tribal — and I’m kind of loving it.

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