Nature Mandalas: Crafting nature mandalas can be an excellent way to explore artistic composition, mindfulness, and the great outdoors – all at the same time! These temporary art installations create beauty from foraged natural objects.
In addition to being a really fun art project, making nature mandalas also serves as an educational activity. Children will love scouring the ground for specific items, just like a scavenger hunt, and their natural curiosity will create an opportunity for learning. Have fun answering their questions, and seeing what they discover while poking around in nature.
Last summer, while the kids and I were camped out in Maine, we created nature mandalas almost every day. Being surrounded by beautiful natural materials makes it kind of easy . Being on vacation doesn’t hurt either. The habit is a bit harder to keep up during normal life.
It can be hard to find materials that inspire creativity, and even more difficult to find the time to stop and focus on art making. But, if you keep your eyes peeled, you can find pretty patterns and fascinating things to forage wherever you are, and focusing on everyday places, like your own backyard, makes finding the time to craft nature mandalas a little easier too.
How to Make Nature Mandalas
Gather natural materials for your nature mandalas. Mandalas often include repeating patterns, so try to gather multiples of whatever objects you find. Some of our favorite materials to use in Central Texas are pieces of bark, pecan shells, acorns, air plants, crepe myrtle blossoms, and live oak leaves. Bits of moss, flower petals, and colored stones can help to add detail and variety to your mandala, so keep an eye out for anything with a pop of color.
Find a spot to make your nature mandalas. You’ll need a flat, empty spot, at least 2 foot by 2 foot wide. The ideal spot will contrast nicely with your materials. For example, making a mandala from green leaves will get lost when made on green grass. It would look much better on bare soil or a stretch of empty asphalt.
Organize your found objects into little piles to make them easy to work with. If you are extra meticulous you can use an old muffin tin to collect your materials. I usually just pile them up on the ground next to where we are making our nature mandalas.
Assemble your nature mandalas. Place your most interesting found object in the center of your work-area. This will serve as the innermost ring of the mandala. Use your collection of found objects to create a circle around that object, then repeat to create more and more rings in whatever pattern you like. Try playing with different patterns by placing objects in different directions. Creating repetitive shapes and color combinations is a great way to make your mandala extra special.
Appreciate and abandon. Nature mandalas are meant to be temporary. Sometimes I barely get a moment to enjoy mine before a gust of wind or a curious kiddo breaks it into pieces. This is the nature of the art form, so try your best to embrace it! I often snap a picture if I can manage it, then I leave my composition to do what it will.
When I leave nature mandalas in public spaces I like to imagine they put a smile on my neighbor’s faces. Just make sure your mandala is placed in a spot where it won’t trip anybody and that it is only using natural materials that would be typically found there anyway. There’s nothing beautiful about litter, after all.
Whether your nature mandalas are assembled at home or left in a public space for others to enjoy, their ethereal beauty can evoke much-needed feelings of peace and joy – that is, until the wind blows it all away!
Looking for more nature mandala inspiration? Try searching the #naturemandala hashtag on Instagram to see what other folks are creating.