Introduction: Recycled Carpet Mandala Mosaic
We recently moved house and love almost everything about it...except it's super-duper ugly stucco walls. We are renting, so we can't do much about it. Mostly we're only having to stare at them when we're sitting outside, so I thought I would make something to cover that wall and ideally draw attention away from the fake concrete awfulness.
I found a whole range of carpet scraps at our local reverse garbage and knew I definitely needed to use them for something, I just had to figure out what. If you've never heard of reverse garbage, click here to see what they're all about here in Australia. If you don't know of one in your country, you should see if you can find one - they are SO handy for projects...and there are always dump shops or wholesale reject stores. You could even just harass a carpet company for spare bits they're not using.
You can do any pattern you want, this tutorial is just for the mandala I created. I am a henna artist by trade, so mandalas are a real favourite of mine. I like the lotus look and the symmetry. I also had originally planned to turn this into a wall puzzle using velcro backing so...I'm just gonna throw that out there. It could be very cool.
For this mosaic you will need:
- A large canvas
- Permanent marker
- Thumb tack
- Straight edge, long ruler or long straight piece of wood
- A 45° angle measure (miter)
- Pieces of carpet in different colours
- Silicone and corking gun
- Wood for a frame
- LED fairy lights
Hope you enjoy the tutorial, I had a lot of fun making this one!
Step 1: Mark Out Your Base Lines
Use your straight edge (or in my case, just a long straight piece of wood) and permanent marker to draw straight lines along the centre vertically and horizontally.
Place your miter (45° angle measure) along one of your lines so that the lowest point of the angle is sitting on the centre of your canvas. Place your straight edge along the miter (shown in the pictures) and then take the angle measure away. You can now draw a straight line along the inside of the straight edge. Repeat on one of the lines in the opposite direction. This will give you your diagonal lines across the canvas and you now have all of your base lines.
The reason I used the 45° miter instead of just drawing from corner to corner is that I was planning a circular design and corner to corner diagonal lines on a rectangle canvas would have made it hard to keep my pattern even.
Step 2: Mark Out Your Circle
If you have a large compass, you could just use that for this step. I didn't, so I made my own using a thumb tack pressed into the centre of the canvas and attaching some string to it. I made mine long enough to reach about three quarters of the way between my centreline and the edge of the canvas. I then tied the end of the string around my marker.
My husband drew the circle so I could get a photo of it - you need to hold the marker upright and make sure the string can spin around to ensure your circle is even.
Step 3: Draw Centre Marks
Use a ruler to measure between one base line and another along the edge of your circle. Make a mark in the middle of these lines and then draw a small line along the point as a guide.
Step 4: First Flower Details
Measure the distance of the base lines from the centre to the outer edge of the circle and mark the middle of these lines. I just measured one and marked them all at the same distance from the centre, but you can measure each one if you feel the need.
Draw a line from your mark at the middle of the outer circle lines to each point in the middle of the base lines. This will give you your first flower pattern.
Repeat this step to get the smaller flower petals - mark the middle of each inner flower line and the middle between each point on the circle and draw lines from the middle circle points to the inner flower points. Your pattern should look like the one pictured.
You can begin rounding the petals here if you want. I found it most effective to round one from each petal size, trace over it with tracing paper and use that as a guide to round the rest so they are all the same. I was too impatient to see what it was looking like, but I would honestly recommend leaving the straight lines until you've drawn the rest of your pattern. Or you could just leave them straight altogether!
Step 5: Inner Temple Petals
Use a ruler to measure how tall you would like your next set of petals to be using your small petal middle lines as your guide.
I wanted the tip of my temple petals to touch the bottom and top of my canvas, so I measured from the circle edge to the bottom of my canvas and used that length to determine the rest of the temple petal lengths. You can either just draw a dot for each temple tip, or draw the full line to show the distance from the small petal lines to where your temple tips are.
Add a line from your tip points to the tips of your first petals, then draw an 's' shape from the tips to the first petal points to make the temple petal shapes.
Repeat the previous small petal steps to make your next set of small petals between the temple petals.
Step 6: Outer Temple Petals
You can then repeat the temple petal and small petal steps to get your outer petals. These will be pretty big and should take you to the side edges of your canvas and will fall off the top and bottom of your canvas.
Step 7: Start Cutting Your Shapes!
Decide on which colours you want where and begin cutting out the petal shapes using tracing paper templates. This part is fun, you get to finally see how it's going to look!!
Step 8: Trim and Space
I found that I had to cut my shapes down a lot to get them to fit together perfectly (a result from being too impatient to just leave my lines straight and ending up with lots of different shapes instead of all the same).
Luckily, it meant that I didn't need to cut off extra around each petal to allow gaps for the backing lights to shine through. If your shapes all fit perfectly right away (amazing work!!) and you want to add the backing lights, simply trim the same distance around each piece or only trim the leaves if you want the light to shine through around the flower.
I wanted to keep my inner flower together, so I just adjusted the outer temple leaves and trimmed them to keep the gaps even.
Step 9: Paint Your Canvas
Painting the canvas does a few things - it evens out the background colour, adds depth, and most importantly semi-waterproofs your canvas to avoid humidity making it going mouldy.
Step 10: Make Your Frame
My husband found these gorgeous pieces of wood and surprised me by bringing them home cut to size with miters!
To make your frame, measure your edges, cut your pieces of wood to these lengths, add a miter to each end, glue and then screw together.
Step 11: Glue on Your Shapes
Using silicone in a corking gun, glue the backs of each shape starting from the centre of your pattern (the orange flower for me). This works best if you cut the tip of your silicone cone on an angle and hold the flat end down while gluing.
I am a little OCD about making things neat, so yes, all of my silicone gluing is tidy. Yours does not need to be, no one sees it!
Step 12: And Then There Was Light!
Attach string to the back of your canvas in lines. Lay the lights around in circles and then tie them to the strings using zip ties.
Of course, you'll have to turn the lights on right away just to see what it looks like.
Step 13: Enjoy Your New Dirt-cheap Artwork
This whole project cost me less than $50, and it has completely transformed our outdoor area. Now when I sit outside, I hardly notice the ugliness of the wall and instead get to enjoy all the new colour.
Hooray for cheap wall make-overs!! Thanks so much for reading if you got this far!
Third Prize in the