Arts + Crafts

Inspired By Mandalas {and fellow bloggers!}

December 4, 2008

I mentioned earlier today that I’ve had mandala patterns on the brain again. When I say again it’s because I was very into them back in 1999-2000. I purchased every mandala book I could at that time because I saw them everywhere and had to know more. I even purchased coloring books with mandala patterns for kids (yes, kids!) just so I could use the outlines to fill in with my own paint colors, found paper, etc. I really enjoyed experimenting with them in this way, but never had I thought to sit down and make my own from scratch without a general outline until recently. In fact I hadn’t thought much of mandalas in quite a few years. This is what made me think of them again…

One of my favorite bloggers is Kat from Secrets of a Butterfly and she recently inspired me in one of her October posts because she was touched by the work of California artist Anahata Katkin (the designer for PaPaYa!), a lady I’ve known about via the web, but Kat’s words about her touched me and it was only then did I really feel like exploring Anahata’s work myself. Do you know about her? She is an artist with work that is quite amazing and now I’m wishing I could somehow meet her and take one of her classes because the art fest she taught earlier this year seemed pretty great (images here).

Kat has never met Anahata to learn her technique so I’m quite impressed that by using her paintings as a guide she created this very lovely mandala mixed media painting using vintage wallpaper and old sheet music. You can see Kat’s painting above shown in her craft room in England. So pretty and well, REAL. I’m more and more attracted to such work, art from the heart and that is handmade at home because something the person saw motivated them to use their own hands to create something similar. So many times we consume, consume, consume without thinking, “Hey I could make that myself!” and I don’t mean COPYING work because a one-to-one version isn’t using your own creativity and it’s not fair to the artist. But if something you saw moved you and you just cannot afford it to buy it (or you rather do it yourself), then there is no reason NOT to try to do something for your own personal use.

This makes me think of cooking. In America we have nearly every meal you can imagine in the frozen food aisle. Here in Germany it’s much different, the selection is smaller. You are forced here to cook many things from scratch because you cannot conveniently buy them already made by someone (or something) else. I think it’s easy to get a bit lazy and not make your own recipes because it’s often easier and faster to buy it frozen or to order take-out. I think we sometimes forget the joy of making things for ourselves, you know? Add to this art, things around the house, etc. So much can be made by our own hands without buying it from someone else. Not everything of course, but a good amount.

Maybe we don’t have the time, or confidence in what we can do, but what about making time this month to make a few things handmade? I think it’s good for our self esteem, our wallet, and we can be a good example to others because often our children, friends, and family members (even e-friends) can be so inspired by something we’ve made and it may motivate them to create as well. When it comes to self esteem, the more you practice something you do not consider yourself very good at, you will improve and those improvements build your self confidence.

It’s not about quantity either. You don’t have to be some kind of energizer rabbit super crafter.

It can just be ONE painting, one apron, one really good batch of muffins… Just make something and how you feel afterwards. Imagine the fantastic circle of joy in that — you inspire others, yourself, and you have things around you made by your very own hands and heart. Nice!

Lots of us pledge to buy handmade and I’m all for that, but let’s pledge to also make handmade and do some things for ourselves this winter season. It’s such a good idea in this economy too. Take out those old copies of Martha Stewart Living and those PILES of arts and crafts book, pick a SINGLE project, and just do it. Want to make a pledge to make something handmade? You can leave your pledge in the comments section below and then when your item is finished, photograph it, place it in your Flickr account, and link it here once it’s finished. Or if you’ve already made your own things recently, comment with a link below because it’s fun to share.

You can see a roll of gift wrap and decide to go home and create your own like Ez did (and displayed a tutorial for) over on her blog Creature Comforts recently. I’m absolutely amazed by what some of my fellow bloggers are doing with their own hands lately and so impressed by their creativity.

Have you made anything with your own hands lately?
Just ONE thing. Anything that you are proud to share? If so, please link to it in the comments section below, please show & tell!

(images from kat and the secrets of a butterfly)


  • Reply Andee December 4, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I would love to spend all day making stuff, but the real world won’t let me. However, I managed to make this for my boss for Christmas:

  • Reply Ellen December 4, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I make a lot of stuff. I think it’s because I’m a fidgeter who needs to have my hands doing something. Right now I am working on making four of these hats as Christmas presents:

    I have two done so far. They are for each of the members of my immediate family. I just want a family photo of us all wearing goofy hats. After that, I don’t care if they never get worn again. (Dad, I’m looking at you.)

    Ellens last blog post: Chocolate chip pumpkin nut bread

  • Reply Kristan December 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    First let me say that Andee’s apron is adorable, and Ellen’s hats are really impressive!

    I used to love making stuff (friendship bracelets, dollhouses, etc.) when I was younger, but like everyone says, I don’t have the time/money/energy/whatever to do it much now. The last thing I made by hand was a little sleeve/pouch thing for my camera:

    Let me tell you, it was 4 hours of hard sewing work, and enduring the doubts of my boyfriend, but it has held up a LOT better than I expected.

    I often itch to make bags, maybe I’ll answer your little call to action here and do that. Or else make an eco-friendly notebook as described at design*sponge:

    Kristans last blog post: iPhone coffee table

  • Reply Kristan December 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    OH! And I totally forgot to mention how much I love Kat’s handmade mandala art. I’m not usually into that look, but it’s lovely here.

    Kristans last blog post: iPhone coffee table

  • Reply brand-eye December 4, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    i just finished a quilt for a friend, and then wrapped it and made a card to go with it.

    brand-eyes last blog post: recycled wrapping paper and card

  • Reply Di December 4, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I LOVE mandalas – I actually have used them for meditation, etc. This is one of the coolest decorative adaptations I’ve seen in a long time.

    Now I’m thinking of creating a fabric mandala to place behind the Turkish evil eye I bought at a local restaurant!

    Dis last blog post: Mens Cologne Handmade Artisan Natural Fragrance Sampler Pack

  • Reply sd December 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    after not feeling inspired for a really long time, i found out about matchbox shrines! if you search matchbox on flickr there are so many great examples. its really given me a chance to be creative again :]

  • Reply Jason Thompson December 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Anahata’s work is beautiful and she’s a lovely, sharing person. We own two of her Giclee prints, through her company Papaya!, and we always hear nice comments when friends see them in our home. She’s an inspiration to many, many artists and she teaches classes at Artfest too – here are images from the last retreat:


  • Reply Lexy December 4, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I made my first image on clipboard wood. The wood is supposed to be for a book cover for one of those Bind-it-All machines (which I have, but haven’t used yet!) but I used it as an art board instead.

    This painting that I’ve made of two little red birds is my favourite of my “Curiosities” series so far:

    I’m also making a special ‘memory’ book for my Mum for Christmas, but I havent finished it yet! I’m going to surprise her by making more pages for her to add to it randomly over the coming years – an ongoing gift :)

    Lexys last blog post: I’ve been thinking about:

  • Reply Amanda Elizabeth December 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    this is such a perfect post!!! I just wrote about something I spent the night creating, cookies! I totally fell into the trap of eating out too much and not making enough home cooked meals and my fiance and I have a goal of not getting any take out until after the first of the year. I honestly thought it was going to be so hard, but its been amazing! I search blogs, magazines, and the co-op to get ideas for meals, it’s forcing me out of my comfort zone and into making delish things for us :):) Thanks for posting this!!!

    Amanda Elizabeths last blog post: {*Let’s Eat!*}

  • Reply Catherine December 4, 2008 at 5:09 pm


    I have just finished a painting which is on its way as we speak to Switzerland. It is a Christmas gift.

    Catherines last blog post: I love my dog handbag.

  • Reply Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Error December 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    That is really beautiful. I love the details!

    My latest project was this fabric bunting. Photos and step-by-step tutorial here:

    I wanted something festive but not too garish-red-and-green-screaming-santa … and something I could look forward to using every year as a symbol of “the holiday season.” I like the way it turned out!

    Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Errors last blog post: How to make a Bunting – Holiday Decoration

  • Reply Christina December 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! I am currently doing an internship and living away from my husband (and garden, and sewing machine). Thank goodness the internship is almost over (tomorrow!) and I can return home to those things I love, the things where making a mess and getting my hands dirty evolves into something beautiful, whether it be a meal, a piece of music, or harvesting vegetables and canning them. It’s really refreshing to know that other people take the same simple pleasure of expressing themselves creatively and beautifully.

    Christinas last blog post: Feliz Navidad

  • Reply Tamara December 4, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I designed and made these papercut Christmas ornaments for the cakeandpie and freshlyblended ornament swap and will be sending a few extra to friends who live overseas. My local friends will be getting my mini-gingerbread houses for Christmas. I love making Christmas gifts because I think they’re more appreciated than shop-bought ones.

  • Reply Ez December 4, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Such a beautiful post…
    So honored to be included! Thanks sweetie!

    Ezs last blog post: Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Babies + Kids

  • Reply Jenny December 4, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    People are so creative out here on the internets!

    Yesterday, I was inspired by a fabric wreath I saw in the artist Crispina’s Etsy store. I had some scraps of burlap and some old felted wool sweaters that I cut into squares and turned into my own wreath:

    Jennys last blog post: Goodwill Wreath

  • Reply ju December 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    i love this blog!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente December 4, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    I love Kat’s mandala, how beautiful! And am a big fan of Papaya as well….what a lovely and inspiring post Holly! Thank you so much!

  • Reply Vica (Flying Umbrellas) December 4, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Oh, as I am reading this post my desire to create gets bigger and bigger. So interesting, that yesterday I had a quite good speech to my boyfriend, while I was trying to asleep, in which I was pleading for handmade and trying to convince him how important is that for us, how much joy we get afterwards. We shouldn’t forget about simple things in our lives..

    And, my last handmade project is a bag, actually the second one since I’ve started my blog. Take a look: … and so many ideas that need to be implemented :)

    Vica (Flying Umbrellas)s last blog post: Going out in Berlin… to a sewing cafe

  • Reply Brooke December 4, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I love to create and I love seeing others’ creations! I recently made this stocking for a stocking swap.

    Brookes last blog post: Stocking Swap Update

  • Reply Melissa December 4, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Those mandalas are so pretty and inspiring! I’ve been making tags. I have so much pretty paper and wanted to put it to good use.

    Melissas last blog post: Tag Packaging

  • Reply Kat December 4, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I recently made several new pieces for Christmas gifts. I love being inspired by all of your blogs and work!

    Kats last blog post: Tree of Life– fine art print

  • Reply Tabitha (From Single to Married) December 4, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Funny you should ask – just tonight I went to a get together where we made these little gift envelopes, perfect for candy or other little gifts. It was fun and surprisingly easy.

    Tabitha (From Single to Married)s last blog post: Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

  • Reply Allison December 5, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Hello! Thank you everyone for your beautiful inspiration!

    This is a little something I created recently for a project in Richmond, VA called ?Change for a 10.? The community was asked to create little works of art to be entered in a show to raise money for ART 180, a nonprofit organization that makes art accessible to young people who might not otherwise be encouraged find their inner artist!

  • Reply Annie December 5, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Oooh those manadlas are inspiring!

    After a few weeks of not drawing or painting, I finally had to do SOMETHING. I painted these 2 acrylic pieces on blocks of wood. I felt much better after. :)

    Annies last blog post:

  • Reply Francine December 5, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I’ve committed to a handmade Christmas this year and as such have been busy working on decorations and gifts! I’ve even posted several tutorials for those who might be interested in doing some crafting

    The satisfaction from making something yourself is such a great feeling!

    Francines last blog post: Million Dollar Question Answered

  • Reply Emily Pasha December 5, 2008 at 5:23 am


    As a fellow American living and loving life in Germany your mention of reinventing the cooking wheel rang oh so true. At times I feel like a little elf flitzing around collecting ingredients from the apotheke and asian shop to make chocolate chip cookies, or a quick meal of enchiladas turns into a two day process.

    Finding connection to our surroundings in a world of compartmentalism can be a full time job. Slowing down to do things ourself, be it art, food, or all the other beautiful things we overlook is food for the heart and a gift from the soul.

    Liebe Gr??e aus Hamburg,
    Emily Pasha

  • Reply Coco December 5, 2008 at 6:44 am

    wow I love those Madala mixed media artworks. I was wanting to do something similar for myself but only not with a mandala but with a photograph printed on canvas… only printing on canvas seemed a bit troubling because most photo’s on canvas dont come that way how I had in mind! But I’ll keep you posted if it works some day ;)

    The latest thigs i made are here:
    not very good at all but I’m proud that I made them myself and keep some money in my pocket ?ause buying such things are insane expensive i think…

  • Reply Jessica December 5, 2008 at 6:58 am

    because I couldn’t find some really nice christmas cards thats suits me, I’ve made my own ones. I think thats really more personal than just buy some in a store, isn’t it?

    by the way, your blogs are lovely!
    greetings from braunschweig

  • Reply muralimanohar December 5, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I make things all the time, but my favorite recent project was a little flower pin made by melting fabric. So fun, and turned out so pretty. :D

    muralimanohars last blog post: Mmmm…cheeeeesecake…

  • Reply Kathryn(secretsofabutterfly) December 5, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Holly,
    Melissa mentioned to me that i had been featured on Decor8 so i hurried over to see! i had a bit of a 3 day break from being online and so i missed your post!! Thank you so much for featuring my mandala picture and your lovely words about it.
    I am glad if you find any of my posts inspiring because its a way of giving back to you a small part of the inspiration i always receive when i read your posts here.
    So big hugs Hol, Kat xoxo

    Kathryn(secretsofabutterfly)s last blog post: A home of warmth and love

  • Reply Lisa P. December 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Here’s a link to my new shower curtain and the disastrous sweater (it looks worse in person). I like the shower curtain though–it came out really well.

  • Reply lindsay December 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Anahata is an amazing artist and person! She inspires me so much :)

    lindsays last blog post: thanksgiving festivities….

  • Reply Starlight December 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    This was a very inspiring read – thank you, and I’m pledging to do one thing. A few actually. But we’ll start with a painting.

  • Reply Sam December 6, 2008 at 1:19 am

    I’m always making things with my own hands :) but I’m delighted with one of my latest creations …

    Sams last blog post: A Gingerbread Holiday

  • Reply leah December 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I was in that mandala class with Anahata! At first, I wasn’t pleased with what I created, but when I took it home and worked some more, I ended up being happy with the result.

    At the moment I’m especially pleased with all the art I created as part of my “Art Every Day Month” challenge that I do every November. Towards the end, I started working on a series of moon paintings. The most recent one, “If the Moon Came to Dinner,” I did last week and I’m loving the background because it came from pure play:

    leahs last blog post: Sniffles and Holiday Craftiness

  • Reply Jill December 7, 2008 at 11:28 am

    In November, I joined Molly’s “one good loaf” group She inspired me to start baking my own bread. I had never baked bread completely from scratch before. Now, I’m hooked!

    Jills last blog post: Weird Habits

  • Reply Lisa December 8, 2008 at 12:31 am

    It is really inspiring! If you are looking for something to much visit my favorite Web-site:

  • Reply magikquilter December 8, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Hi Holly sorry not to have been around but my MIL is critically ill in England and my husband flew there to be with her so have not been around blogs much as too teary. Have been doing a little sewing as it is great distraction from one’s own pain and others too I find. Here is my tote bag made with some of my Asian fabric. I will look at everyone’s after my shower…will distract me some more so it is great that you did this Holly.

    Bag is here…

    magikquilters last blog post: RIP Kerryn McCann

  • Reply susie bauer December 9, 2008 at 11:52 pm


    Thank you so much for the call to action….time to stop dreaming about projects and just do them! One thing I would like to add….sometimes I see people get overwhelmed in the process of buying materials to make a handmade item. I say look around you…there are plenty of raw materials sitting around your home if you just look with fresh eyes!

    This week I am working on several sewing projects: a couple of pillows for gifts and a new skirt for myself.

  • Reply ArtShades December 10, 2008 at 6:09 am

    I’ve been stitching into reclaimed maps recently and have made a ‘map of France lampshade’. I’ve been making stitched paper lampshades for a long time, but am extra excited by the creative potential of stitched map shades!

    Lovely to see what everyone else is making.
    Sorry to see you leave Europe Holly!

  • Reply anastasia December 10, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    love that painting – beauitful colours!
    i made these birdy tags by hand which I listed on my new etsy shop!!

    anastasias last blog post:

  • Reply Pink Sky December 12, 2008 at 11:13 am

    What a lovely mandala, I love her decorated room, and the mandala adds such a personal touch.

    I picked up oil paint, brushes, and canvas after a 12+ year hiatus and painted this, now happily sitting in my own studio:

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