In this blog post, I’ll show you five of my favourite ways to make botanical mandalas. I hope there are a few ideas here to inspire you to make your own mandala. It’s a lovely, simple activity that we can use to celebrate a new season, explore nature around us, and enjoy being in the present moment.
There’s a beautiful article about mandalas in volume 2 of Plants Are Magic magazine. Due to high demand, volume 2 has just been re-released in paperback. Pop over to my shop to see where it’s available to order.
Ok, let’s look at some ideas for mandalas…
1. Table mandala
Do you ever go on a walk and find yourself filling your pockets with leaves, seeds and flowers? I do..! When I’m back at home after a walk, I enjoy arranging the nature finds into a mandala. It’s a soothing activity that can take just five minutes, or you can take your time as you observe the details on each leaf and take notice of the variations in shape and colour.
At the end, I like to photograph my mandalas to remember them. These photos make lovely images to print and use as cards. At the end, sweep away the plants and return them to the earth.
2. Painted mandala
Make watercolour paint from petals and paint a simple starburst mandala. This mandala was so soothing to paint – colours from plants are a complete joy to experience.
The tutorial for making paint from petals is in Plants Are Magic volume 4, and you can also find some more tips for making paint with coreopsis petals in this blog post.
Petal dyes are often pH sensitive and we can alter the pH to widen our palette of colours. The plants used for the colours in the painting are:
- Coreopsis petals: yellow; orange (with added baking soda).
- African violet flowers: blue/purple; pink (with added baking soda).
- Purple pincushion flowers / Black Knight Scabiosa: purple; pink/purple (with lime juice); teal (with baking soda).
I used a dropper to transfer a little of each dye into the wells of the paint palette, then I modified some of the colours by adding a squeeze of lime juice (or lemon juice or vinegar) and a sprinkle of baking soda. The pH sensitive dyes change immediately.
The lightfastness of the paints will be variable, but don’t let that stop you playing with petal paints. In my experience, the colours last much longer than I expect.
3. Hammered mandala
Flower hammering is a method that was shared by Samorn Sanixay in Plants Are Magic volume 3. The plants I used below were all from my balcony, and I made this mandala as a way of celebrating the transition between seasons. I’m amazed that there was so much colour still growing on my little balcony at the end of October and I’ll enjoy this mandala hanging on the wall through the winter months. Hammering plants is a way of preserving their beauty in cloth.
The original idea was shared by Samorn in Plants Are Magic volume 3, and there’s also a simplified tutorial in this blog post where I show you how I make the mandala.
4. Pressed leaf mandala
Are you like me in that you hoard pressed leaves and flowers? I have pressed plants in envelopes that must go back 10 years! Now I have a use for them… I simply applied a little PVA glue (or modge podge) to the back of each leaf before pressing down. These mini mandalas would make lovely cards. Never again will I find myself without a greetings card, as it’s so easy to make one of these.
5. Outside mandala
This final mandala is similar to the first one, but it’s made on the ground outside. The added beauty of this is that you then leave the mandala on the ground as a gift for other people to discover.
So, those were five different ideas for making botanical mandalas. This is just the beginning… imagine all the other types of mandala that you could make!
The simple act of collecting and arranging plants is so joyful. Don’t focus on the end result, but try to stay present within the experience of making the mandala. Perhaps you don’t even want to take a photo – that’s totally up to you. Ironically, by taking a photo, then it potentially becomes less about the process and more about the end result. However, it’s beautiful to capture photos of the fleeting moments through a season. It’s entirely up to you!