Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Make a Mandala Journal

When I first saw this project last year, I knew it was something that I wanted to make.  I've been interested in mandalas and sacred geometry for a while now, and with winter approaching I thought this would be a perfect cold weather project.

Karin Bartimole is a talented artist, and I urge you to take a look at the other videos on her YouTube channel.  This is Part 1 of 4 of her Mandala Journal tutorial.  I love the thickness of the book and the binding method that I've yet to try.  As a bonus, I get to use a power tool!

I deviated a bit from Karin's cover directions.  I didn't use wall spackle, but instead used my Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso.  I'm quite happy with the results; but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

All of my pages are rather heavy cardboard.  My first pages were cut from pizza delivery boxes, and the rest of the pages are cut from slightly heavier cardboard.  I used the Korean, Mexican, and Persian newspapers that I was gifted with last month by my son and his girlfriend.  I used the old flour, salt, and water paper mache recipe as opposed to wallpaper paste. (I already had those ingredients in the house!)  It seems to have worked fine, and since I'll be sealing each page I'm not too worried about the durability.

I painted my covers with transparent layers of cadmium yellow, orange, alizarin crimson, bright aqua green, and cerulean blue artist acrylics.   I was really pleased with the outcome, but I kept looking at the front cover thinking, "it's just too plain".  I tried sealing wax discs but that didn't do the trick.  I thought about it and lived with the cover for a couple days when it finally came to me!  I would use a Japanese Kanji symbol!  I did a little research and found the Kanji for "spirit".  I applied the symbol to the front cover with more super heavy gesso and a wooden skewer.  It's drying in the sun right now and will soon be ready to paint.

Here's my first stack of prepared pages - there are 9 pages and the covers.  The stack isn't thick enough, so I'm adding an additional 6-8 pages.  That means mixing more paper mache.  I've discovered that it's not my favorite thing to do, but I keep the promise of  "The Power Tool" foremost in my mind to help me through.  I can't wait to bind the pages together using the slip knot technique shown in Karin's video.

I'm really having a great time getting my book ready, and I know it will be a comforting "go to" as the temperatures plunge and the snow flies.  I'm already brainstorming a second book made in this fashion, filled with Asian inspired papers, ephemera and haiku that I've collected over the years.  I hope you find this technique useful in your art journaling, and as always, I hope you're in the mindset of  "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"


Finally, the rains have left, the sky is clear, and the trees behind my house are dazzling and sparkling in the warm glow of the sun.  So are my spirits!


  1. I cant wait to see this book, bound and all!
    And it is a fantastic idea!

  2. What a fun project this is! I have never worked with spackle before, what fun! Thanks for sharing this video. I love what you have done so far. Can't wait to see the finished product! Hugs and blessings Angelia.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me! It's a pleasure sharing the creative world of art journaling with you. I love hearing from you, so comments and questions are always welcome.

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