Radial Symmetry- Name Mandala

In my Maker’s Monday after school class we explored making Mandalas. The word Mandala comes from Sanskrit that loosely translates to mean “circle” or “center.” It is most widely seen in the form of a circle but can take on many different shapes. Mandalas are so satisfying to create and are solid example of Radial symmetry. They are seen throughout eastern religions and cultures and can provide balance, meditation, and harmony. The history and practice of making them (either in a permanent or a temporary form like sand) is so beautiful and rich with meaning. I wanted to try introducing this idea of radial symmetry in art to my class. My artists were able to create these unique designs with minimal tools and was something they could easily work on at home when they needed to calm themselves. For this project we used a square sheet of bristol board. I will lay out below our method and then share some visual examples.

Here is a visual example of a quick one I did with the folds so you can see how it takes shape:

Now we will start from the beginning. Start with a square sheet of paper. Note: Since you will be manipulating the paper and folding and unfolding the paper, I like to use a thicker weight paper like cardstock or bristol board. But feel free to use what paper you have around the house as long as it is plain with nothing on it.

Step 1:

Start to fold the paper in half diagonally to create a right triangle and then keep folding till you end up with a small manageable triangle. How many times you choose to fold your paper will depend on your paper size. In the following folding pictures I was using a square that was 8 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches. By taking printer paper and cutting off the excess to make it square (fold 1) and I folded it 3 times over.

Step 2:

Once everything is folded, pick one side of the triangle and set it on the table with the 90 degree angle pointed up. (It should look like a simple mountain.) Now write out your first name in bubble letters. Make sure your letters are touching and that they reach the tops and the bottoms of the folds but don’t connect them over the fold lines. See photos for examples (it sounds more complicated then it is, hopefully the photos help)

Step 3:

Now this is the part that takes patience and some strength. Normally it would be easy to hold your paper up to a window or an illuminated surface so it acts like a like box for tracing, but the art studio we were in doesn’t have windows so we used the rubbing method. We would fold and use the wrong side of the paper and hold the pencil sideway, apply pressure and markup the back of the paper. The heat and pressure takes the pencil lead and helps to transfer it to the other side much like carbon paper.

Step 4:

Once the design has been transferred use a sharpie or other black marker to trace over all of the lines and clean them up as you go. Then erase all the pencil markings and tada your name mandala. Feel free to add color and make sure that when you add color to do so symmetrically.

I was really glad that the students took to the project and the amount of calm energy that radiated around the room (whether they were consciously aware of it or not) was magical. Here are some process shots from my class, you can see how their mandalas were starting to take form:

For more ideas and inspiration on creating your own Mandalas check out this Artist’s blog with some examples, ideas, and meanings: https://100mandalas.com/blog/

I was curious for more beautiful artwork inspiration and came across Kathryn Costas’ website. I love supporting other artists, so check out her beautiful Mandalas. I saw she even has some books for inspiration)

I can’t wait to see what you create!