i had real trouble with this challenge - when i thought 'mandala' i could only think of brightly coloured symmetrical designs which, while beautiful, just didn't inspire me at all. i couldn't get an angle on this theme so finally i gave up and just started playing on the sewing machine and thinking of patterns and symbols that have meaning for me. i used a piece of green velveteen (recycled from an old skirt of my mother in law's) that i had dyed with ink and fabric paint, layered with felted wool jumper and cotton backing and just started machining spirals - always a potent symbol for me.
i was inspired by arlee to machine tight spirals in different colours which made the circles bunch up - a few more of these and i realised i was making the pleiades constellation- the subject of my connections quilt earlier in the year. this is a powerful symbolic story in many cultures and one that is insistent in my mind at the moment.
i used rayon threads in bright colours for the central star, purple, turquoise and blue for the other major stars and black for the more reticent smaller stars. i then puddle quilted in black rayon for the background and then used silver thread to hand stitch around all the stars. the first circle of hand stitching around the central star is done in copper thread and then the radiating circles are in silver thread.
it may be unorthodox, to me it conveys as much mystery and meaning as a conventional mandala.