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Mandala painting isn't difficult using freezer paper to make stencils. This technique allows even young kids to make beautiful designs. We used the idea to paint t-shirts, but you can also use it to paint other fabrics or materials.
Some mandala purists might not approve of my technique for making mandalas, but when you are working with young kids, you need to find easy methods that allow them to make something beautiful as easily as possible. While this isn't fool-proof, it's a pretty good way to ensure that a not-so-artistic child can feel like an expert painter.
Let me tell you the story about how this craft idea unfolded…
It was time for another craft tutorial at my friend's summer school.
We had been wanting to do tie dyeing with the older kids, but we couldn't get our hands on the procion dyes quickly enough for our project. So, we decided to have the kids paint their t-shirts instead.
I had been looking for some ideas online for a quick way to do something different and interesting that would be easy enough for kids to do.
I liked the idea of watering down the fabric paints to a dye-like consistency and using them with a spray bottle, but I wasn't sure if it would be too messy. I also thought that it might be a little too quick of a project.
We wanted them to be entertained for awhile.
So, instead, I decided to let the kids decide what they wanted to do.
Before we began, I explained some of the techniques to the kids, and told them to give some thought to what they wanted to paint.
The girls instantly decided that they wanted to paint hearts with either their names or “I love you” or both.
The boys had a more ambitious goal of painting Ferraris.
Not having a clue about how one would paint a Ferrari, I left the boys to fend for themselves with their paintbrushes, paint and markers. I figured I would be able to help the girls a little more easily with their hearts.
The girls wanted to paint a large heart in the middle of the shirt, so I suggested that we use freezer paper.
I folded the paper in half, cut out half a heart, and opened it to a perfectly symmetrical heart for the girls.
Doing so brought back school memories of cutting out hearts and snowflakes. That's when it hit me: Freezer paper snowflakes (aka. mandalas) would make a great stencil for a T-shirt!
So, how did we do the mandala painting on t-shirts?
Being summer, I chose not to make a “snowflake-like” snowflake, if you know what I mean. I decided that we should make a round, geometrical design using the same technique, something more like a mandala.
Just in case you don't know how to make a paper snowflake, I will explain the way I did it.
How to make a snowflake.
Take a piece of freezer paper and fold it in half.
Fold that in half again.
Keeping the center point of the paper as a reference, you are going to fold diagonally up to the center point.
You just need to make one more diagonal fold, once again up to the center point, which will become the center of the snowflake
I like to cut the point off, which results in a hole in the center of the finished snowflake.
More importantly, you should cut across the side opposite the center point to even everything out. Doing this correctly will ensure that your mandala is even on all sides.
To make sure you cut it evenly, it might be a good idea to make sure you can see the area of the folds where all levels of the sheets are included. I had to flip my fold the opposite way to see where the shortest papers were, and I have marked that line so that you can better understand what I am talking about.
The marked area is the point that you are going to want to cut off and discard.
I normally just start cutting out random shapes at this point, but I decided to draw out some shapes to give you an idea of how to do it.
I wanted my snowflake to have scalloped edges, so I cut curves into the outer edge.
Once I drew out my shapes, I cut them out.
I made some half hearts along the edge because these girls loved hearts. The important thing is to not cut all the way across because wherever you cut completely across will end up being the outer border of your design. It is also important to leave little “bridges” of paper between your cuts along the edges so that the paper doesn't fall apart.
Once you have your design cut out, unfold your snowflake.
For your T-shirt, you should make your snowflake out of freezer paper. Freezer paper has a side with wax on it that can be stuck to fabric using a hot iron. Once you have finished making your snowflake, you can iron it onto your shirt, shiny side down until it is fused to the shirt.
Now it's time to paint!!
For the girls, I made a simple design, but I think they really could have handled something more complex.
Having large spaces between the holes, though, made it easier for them to paint within the lines without getting one color in the space of the other colors when making a multi-colored design.
The idea is to paint the holes in the freezer paper with fabric paint, covering the edges carefully. It's best to use a vertical motion when painting so as not to shove any paint under the edge of the freezer paper. Along the outside edge, it looks nice to make the colors fade out little by little, using less paint as you go outwards.
Once the paint is dry, pull off the freezer paper, and you can see your design!
Here's what one of the girls made that day…
I think she did a great job, don't you?
When painting on fabric, make sure to set it so that your design doesn't disappear when you wash it. You'll have to iron it according to the directions on your particular paint.
If you would like to paint mandalas on other materials, you can try cutting your snowflake design out of contact paper with the adhesive still on it. The success of the technique really depends on the type of contact paper. Some allow for folding without the backing coming off more easily than others.
When using contact paper, once you have your snowflake “sticker” cut out, you can stick it directly on the surface you want to paint, and paint in the cut out spaces like I showed above. Once the paint is dry you can remove your sticker and you're done!
Easy as that!
See- it's a fun project for kids of ALL ages. 😉