Tibetan Prayer Flags


We are all on a journey. And on this journey we may encounter deserts, mountains and bogs. If we only see the mountain as an obstacle, we miss out on seeing the kind of person this mountain can help us become. Each leap we take, each river we cross is an opportunity to become something more. So, who do you want to be at the end of your journey? What qualities and characteristics do you want to be remembered for? This project uses Tibetan Prayer Flags to explore these important questions. So that instead of obstacles, you will begin to see the reward of an improved character that lies beyond the mountain. There is no short cut to achieving growth.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”. – Henry David Thoreau

As travelers prepare to embark on their journey through the Himalayan Mountains, they often stop at a monastery to purchase a prayer flag made by Buddhist Monks who live high up in the mountains. The prayer flags represent wishes for things like prosperity, safety, and good fortune. The flags are set outside so that the wind can blow through them. It is believed that when the wind blows through the flags the prayer is taken with the wind and goes before the traveler keeping them safe and prosperous as they traverse the hard road ahead. If you had your own prayer flag, what wish or hope for your future would you want it to represent? What do you want for yourself in the future? What qualities or characteristics do you want to develop along your journey?

Materials: Silk (or any white woven fabric), wax resist, fabric dye, paint brushes (small), paper cups (small), pipettes, paint pallets, 8×10 paper, pencils, cardboard, painters tape, twine, thin wooden dowels.

*cut the fabric into 11×8 rectangular pieces and use iron on double sided tape to seal the edges so it does not fray. Make a template out of cardboard in the exact size of the piece of silk; use this to draw a rectangle on a piece of paper. Have each person draw out their design of what they want for their future.

Directive:  Think about your own journey and what your goals are and take some time to write about them. Choose one quality or characteristic you would like your prayer flag to represent. After you have chosen what you want on your flag, use the template described above to trace a rectangle on a piece of 8×10 paper. Then draw the design for your flag inside the rectangle. Make sure the drawing is vertical, rather than horizontal.

After the drawing is finished tape the piece of silk over the drawing. Pour the wax resist into a paper cup and use a small paintbrush to paint over the lines of the drawing. Everywhere you paint, the wax will resist the fabric dye. Make sure that all of the lines touch each other, otherwise the dye will bleed, and it will be very difficult to control. After all the lines are painted over, begin filing in the spaces with the fabric dye.

Use the pipettes to carefully extract the dye and squirt it into the paint palette. You can mix colors with the paint brush once they are in the palette as if they were regular acrylics. Once you’re finished carefully peel the tape off and vuala! Now you are ready to tape or glue your flag to the wooden dowel and display.

Tibetan prayer flags are usually hung outside, however the flags made in this project will get ruined if placed outside.

Here are some examples of flags made by clients at an outpatient rehab.

20140722_122137 20140722_122050 20140722_122038tibetan dowel

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