Sketch Stories: How to Create Mandalas for Decorative Arts

I started drawing mandalas as a child (before I knew the definition of a mandala) because I was fascinated with their parts rather than their whole.

A mandala is created from a collection of overlapping shapes which often are presented in circular patterns. Throughout history, the best designs originated in geographic areas where artisans became experts in block printing and weaving.  Both crafts are built on pattern repeats.

I developed my own mandala-creation skills through paper cutting by rearranging individual shapes like puzzle pieces, but without the locking edges.

To learn how to create a mandala pattern, start with a single shape  (like the one on the top, left, below), then copy (repeat) it in different but related positions.

To try at home, cut a shape out of heavy material or light cardboard, then trace it in overlapping steps. Finish by coloring. The process is very easy, but each derivative can be made to look like an entirely new piece of work.


Below is a mandala-inspired scarf I made for our gift shop, If the pictures are too small here, click THIS LINK to go directly to our other site.

About the writer

The copyright for this brief article is owned by Karen Little ( of and Patterns like these, however, are universal, so feel free to copy and reuse them. Use of this article is granted to any non-commercial venture with permission of Karen Little.