Cherrywood's Lion King Challenge Part 2: The Mandala Design

Time to Create My Mandala Design
Now that I had my palette of abstract animal prints prepared, I needed to tackle a mandala design to house them all!

In additional to researching animal print designs, I was also busy researching African culture, symbols and art via Pinterest and my local library.  As I uncovered a cool design or motif, I would add it to my sketchbook with a few notes for future reference.  I found a lot of inspiration within the Adinkra symbols that are used with African textiles!  Many of them would translate nicely into shapes and/or free motion quilting designs within my mandala!

Two full journal pages worth of inspiration was exciting but also a bit overwhelming!  Moreoever, there was little hope of fitting them all into a 20"x20" quilt as required by the challenge rules.  To help with organization, I created flash cards that I pinned to a small design board.  My favorites were typically pinned along the top/center.
Design Inspiration & Organization!

Whenever I started sketching a new draft, I would gather a few cards containing my favorite motifs and once they were incorporated into my design, I would remove them from the design board.  When it was time to start a new mandala design, all cards were returned to the design board and the process recommenced.

As you can see, I went through several reiterations of my mandala designs.  You will likely recognize which motifs were my favorites, as they reappear over and over.  As I kept hitting a design dilemma, I opted to take a little break and return with fresh eyes and a fresh start!
Mandala Drafts & Duds
After all these dead end designs, I needed to find a way to simplify my mandala design process.  Initially I would sketch out the entire mandala and all 4-8 repetitions.  And when I encountered a mistake, I would then need to erase all 4-8 repetitions and draw 4-8 new repetitions.  This proved to be both very wasteful as well as frustrating!!  And here is when I had my a-ha moment...why not use a set of hinged mirrors and simply draw one quadrant only!?!?
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall--Who's the Smart One Now?!?
After 4-5 mandala designs, I was narrowing down on which designs, order and flow worked and which needed to be scrapped entirely!  Thanks to my brief break, I was able to sit down and start anew and watch my mandala emerge...alleluiah!  I was so excited about my newest mandala design that I got ahead of myself and started to add color (which turned out to be too soon and all wrong!).  But it was easy enough to create a black and white master copy.  I used a black marker to indicate outline of shapes and a finer black pen to depict free motion quilting designs.
Master Mandala Complete!!
My next post will cover how I incorporate my abstract animal prints, accent Cherrywood colors and free motion quilted texture into the final design!!
Ready to Transform My Master Mandala into Color, Texture and Pattern!!


  1. Oh, Mel, love where you are going with this!

    1. Thanks Paige...I had a lot of fun working on this challenge. I am working on the final reveal post, which I hope to make available later today!!

  2. So interesting to see your design process!

    1. Thanks Jill--I am glad you are enjoying the process part. It is a fairly small piece (20"square) which required considerable planning/design to make a visual impact. Hoping do the final post with the big reveal later today...stay tuned!!


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