Messing about with mandala process – tea staining and layers 

Since boiling our journals a few weeks ago with tea and rusty metal .  I have had great fun messing about with my mandala process  – playing with permanent and water soluble pens and layering with tea, gesso and gel medium 

I have joined a woman’s circle in Edinburgh. One of the aims is to get us to move more and get in touch with our inner self . Staining and layering my mandalas is part of this process. I am still sitting still to draw but , an getting up, making tea , steeping , drying and making bigger marks. This feels  more intuiative and freeing something that was tight. 

I love teal and turquoise, the only pens I have these colour are water soluble. I can’t boil these designs but dipping them in a tea / rust mixture adds a lovely transparency to the marks . The designs are more effective when drawn  on printing paper and drawing on both sides. I like the lack of control and the inability to predict exactly what the final product will look like. 


I wanted to see if I could stop the ink running in some areas so I  added swirls of white gesso and gel medium.


I have been adding all sorts of other materials to add interest and water resistance  – gelatos, stabilo pencils , oil pastels and wax crayons. 


The gelmedium protects the ink but it still runs a bit , the gesso is more effective but is harder to work on top of afterwards with the pens. 

Today I started adding gold pen and paint for fun – but I like the contrast and texture that it adds. I also added thin acrylic paint through stencils which was more effective at protecting the water soluble pen as a technique 

Everything isn’t always successful but I am loving the process


On the one above I rubbed off the gelmedium and gesso and drew on top with a blue pen 


A selection of designs showing different experiments. Stencils , painting acrylic paint and an over worked piece showing gold paint. 

One of the objects I make with my mandalas are pamphlet stitch journals. The flower journals below are ripped to make soft stacked edges . I boiled the top one in tea again after I made it with a strip  of rusty metal I found in the road . This added the dark colour at the centre. 

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