Jamie’s engraving video made me stop.
The video appeared on my Facebook feed because a friend had liked it, and it was mesmerizing and beautiful at the same time. I followed to her Facebook page where I discovered that she uses a variety of mediums to carve incredible freehand Mandalas into.
Jamie Locke is a Master Engraver. She now produces beautifully intricate free hand carvings into almost any material of any size. Her work is highly personalized and she works closely with every individual to produce truly unique masterpieces.
I asked Jamie for an interview, and she was excited to talk about her craft!
First, what is a Mandala?
“Mandalas are a meditative art form introduced by the Buddhist tradition. The word Mandala comes from the Sanscrit language and essentially means circle, or circular design in different colors and shapes. The reason people make them is to meditate, and I tried just that. I would just take a pen and paper and draw; the mind quiets and it actually got pretty intense.
How did you get into Mandalas?
When I first discovered Mandalas, I was in awe. I was actually looking for something engaging for my kids to do so they could express themselves and saw similar designs in Henna and Mendi. I quickly got addicted to it, but because you have to squeeze the tube and I was doing it so much, my wrists just couldn’t take it. Then, I discovered painting, and finally a dremel tool that worked like a brush or pen, and I began carving into discarded pieces of wood.
It was not intentional to create a business, just art for my home. But people kept coming, and now all I’m doing is carving into wood all day!
I started by painting small images and putting Mandalas into them. First, I made designs onto my hands, then I would drawing birds with mandalas on their chests. The big break came when I found something hiding in plain sight in the house we were living in; a giant empty wall and a big piece of birch wood. It was just a personal project, but I carved a huge piece of art and posted it to Facebook. People loved it! The next day I had an order for a 4×4 foot mandala.
Why did you select these mediums?
I loved Henna paste because it was not a permanent art form. I could create on my own hand and enjoy for a few days, and then it would disappear and I would start again. I loved that; practicing non-attachment. But in addition to the stress on my wrists, I realized I wanted to use more color. I wanted a background full of colors. So, I used paper with water color, and then black ink on top of that. It was satisfying, but I wanted more depth.
The dremel wasn’t intentional. One day I was messing around with a dremel, just fixing something maybe; adding my name to a tablet. I saw the way it carved and asked myself how it would look on wood. I loved it, and it changed everything. Now, I paint on the surface for the bright colors and use the tool to carve into the wood, it makes a real texture and bold contrast.
What influences you and how long does it take?
Sometimes it is deliberate and sometimes I have no idea what to do next. Usually, I start with just a circle and think of it in rounds; the first layer is usually scallps because it is easy to build on. Then, after that it goes round by round. Sometimes it takes me 30 seconds to think of something, sometimes 10 minutes. Typically my style is swirls, scallops, leaf design; and my signature is all the dots.
some days there is nothing; a mental block and I walk away or get a mat out and do yoga to free my mind
When I first started I was very slow, but I cut that time down a lot. a 12×12 inch tile used to take me about 12 hours, now I can do a full tile in less than three. It is both because I have more practice, but also because I know what works and how to create what people are looking for. Sometimes I draw it out and see which designs and styles work together. But, then some days there is nothing; a mental block and I walk away or get a mat out and do yoga to free my mind. I also like to browse Pintrest and see different styles of Mandalas others produce.
Do you involve people in creating Mandalas for them?
Am I like a Shaman? That actually really resonates, many people come to me seeking help and my gift to them is not just the Mandala, but peace of mind
Absolutely, people take part in it and there is a lot of conversations back and forth. It is not just about the Mandalas. people tell me what they are going through, and while there’s some who say “just do your thing,” there’s some that are very involved. For example, I have had many patients with cancer and they come to purge all this information, they just want to express where they’re at. These patients learned about the healing powers of Mandalas, and they believe it.