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Mandala Page Contents

IPMM Embellishments
 & Improvisations


IPMM Patterns, Papers
 & Instructions


The Symbolism of Scale & Color in Mandala/Body & Labyrinth

The Yin/Yang Color Wheel
& Interpretation Guide


Mandalas Workshop &
Inner Work Processes

The Eight Design Arrangement
& I Ching Correspondences


Mandala Gallery


Special Notice: This page is a simplification with special applications of the Infinite Possibilities Mandala Maker®  Permission to copy, use, and distribute the material on this page is granted for non-profit, non-commercial purposes only and as long as credit and copyright information is included.


text and graphics ©2006, by Ann K Elliott

The Rainbow Mandala Maker encourages creative experimentation.  One of the ways it does so is by approaching art as a "game."  The medium and the materials used are those of the collage method of paper construction, a way of arranging and holding together different shapes and colors of papers.  The interplaying "teams" in the game are the two most basic geometric shapes the circle and the square representing a long list of opposites, among them: heaven and earth; father and mother; day and night; up and down; happy and sad; warm and cold; summer and winter; the visible and the invisible; mind and heart; what we think and what we feel.

To construct a square/circle/square/circle design is to kinesthetically experience the uniting of opposites.  Before or while putting a mandala together, if a particular pair of opposites comes to mind, the creative process becomes more meaningful and symbolic.  This giving of meaning to geometric figures is something human beings were doing thousands of years ago in their stone chiselings and on cave walls.  Color, more recently, has come to be recognized as a symbolic language, one that speaks to and for the emotional self, as when a person "sees red" or "feels blue," is "soothed" by green or "warmed" by yellow.  The larger-than-life collages of Henri Matisse are examples of the power of pure and simple color in a carefully balanced spectrum.  About his art Matisse observed, "I'm simply using colour to express my feelings."  On another occasion this most skillful of all colorists noted, "Colour and line are forces, and in the play of these forces, in their balancing, lies the secret of creation."

In creating mandalas children may be encouraged to express their feelings and their conflicts, and in particular to incorporate the ambivalence by which feelings and conflicts typically are colored.



This variation of the Infinite Possibilities Mandala Maker® is designed to use 8 1/2" x 11" colored papers, such as Astrobrights, which are readily available in school and office supply stores or from printing shops. Construction papers may also be used but the colors usually are not as pure as other, non-construction papers.


Below is a sample of seven colors--red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet. All but the indigo and the turquoise are Astrobrights, with all selected for a balanced range of spectrum values.



For one complete Rainbow Mandala Maker assembly you will need:

  • 7 pieces of 12" x 12" heavy-weight plain white paper to serve as mandala mat/backings

  • 4 - 8 1/2" by 11" sheets of each of the 7 rainbow colors from which to cut the 7 times 7 shapes which make up the 49 colored pieces of the assembly.

  • You will also need a glue stick and/or 7 round-head brass paper fasteners as well as an ice pick or other center-hole punching instrument.

For making the patterns you will need:

  • 4 sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" quarter-inch graft paper,

  • 12" ruler,

  • compass,

  • scissors.

Using graft paper and the compass, draw and cut out three circles sized

  • 8";

  •  5 1/2";

  •  3 5/8".

Next, using graft paper and a ruler, mark off  and cut out four squares sized

  •  8  1/8";

  •  5  5/8";

  •  3  3/4";

  •  2  5/8".

For sturdier and more permanent patterns, trace around the paper patterns, transferring their outlines to lightweight cardboard, cardstock or manila paper. (Old file folders work fine for this.)

You now have a Rainbow Mandala Maker for playing the three Circle/Square Design Games described below.


GAME # 1

This theme of this game is creative choice-making.  It requires seven color choices--one for each of the Mandala Maker's seven levels.

Each level offers a choice of seven colors.  The square or the circle for each of the levels is proportionately sized to fit  inside the previous one.  As squares and circles are alternately centered, one on top of the other, the seven-leveled mandala is built.

Beginning with the group of largest squares, a color is chosen and placed on one of the white background pieces.  This procedure is repeated, with one color chosen from each of the other six size/shape groups.  There is no rule limiting choice or suggestion that colors not be repeated.

For uniformity, the basic rules of the game are:

Place the largest square squarely centered on the white backing; next the largest circle ,and so on according to their diminishing sizes, with the shapes arranged so each is centered on the previous one.

Note:  For a reusable version of the game, when the arrangement is complete, fasten the design together with a brass paper fastener. In this case, and using a single hole punch or an ice pick, pre-punch holes in the center of each shape. For accuracy, make center holes on the exact center of the patterns and use as a guide.  To mark the center of the squares, draw lines diagonally connecting opposite corners. The point of the compass will already have marked the centers of the circles. (Actually the compass point may be used for making center holes.)

Precut an ample number of pieces of each size and shape and arrange in piles for participants to chose from. In this case a glue stick is used to assemble permanent mandalas, with circles and squares replenished as needed.



Some children, from even an early age, are fascinated with numbers and math, and find the mathematics of making a seven-leveled mandala of particular interest. On a more subtle level, mandala-making math can address--implicitly or explicitly--the more philosophical matter of choice-making in a universe of infinite possibilities.

To begin with, when having seven color choices on seven levels, the total color-combination possibilities is 823,543. 

But in addition, and because there are three "inner" squares, each of which may be placed squarely or diagonally, eight design arrangements are possible.  (See below.)  These eight increase the color-combination/design possibilities to 6,588,344.  As long as all of the Mandala Maker's 49 color/shape pieces are intact each mandala made is just one of 6,588,344 possibilities.  However, as soon as a first mandala is fastened together, then there are only six pieces of each shape, or 42 pieces altogether.  Applying the same mathematics as above, the possibilities are now six to the seventh power, or 279,936 color-combination possibilities.  These times the eight design possibilities reduce the overall possibilities to 2,239,488.

For a third mandala, where the choices are five colors on each of the seven levels, the color-combinations possibilities equal 78,125, which when multiplied by eight (taking into account the design-arrangement possibilities) yields 625,000.  The regressive mathematical possibilities when making all seven mandalas are:

7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 823,543 x 8 = 6,588,344

6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 279,936 x 8 = 2,239,488

5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 78,125 x 8 = 625,000

4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 16,384 x 8 = 131,072

3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 2,187 x 8 = 17,496

2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 128 x 8 = 1,024

1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 x 8 = 8





 In creating a mandala from four squares and three circles, the largest square is assumed as the background, or the foundation upon which the design is built.  The second, fourth and sixth levels of the design are circles and therefore do not alter the design's arrangement.  The third, fifth and seventh levels are the "inner squares" of the arrangement, each of which may be placed either horizontally or diagonally.  A "this"  or  "that"  choice  made three  times  results  in  eight  different  arrangement possibilities.  In the diagram below, "a" represents a horizontally placed square and "b" a diagonally positioned square.  If "a" is chosen for the first inner square then the second choice will result in either "aa" or "ab".  Or if "b" has been chosen first, then the second choice will results in design "ba" or "bb".  And when the third choice has been made, the "aa" will become either "aaa" or "aab", and so with each of the other three second level choices: "ab" becoming "aba" or "abb"; "ba" becoming "baa" or "bab"; and "bb" becoming "bba" or "bbb"

Looking at the bottom row of eight  designs from "aaa" to "bbb" you can see (and get the feeling of) how horizontal lines create a restful, inward-pulling design, and how diagonal lines result in a dynamic outward-projecting motif.

As part of mandala making, note which of the eight designs you are most attracted to, and which designs are to you least appealing.  Experiment then with your "least comfortable" design, seeing if different colors in combination change your perception.




The reason The Rainbow Mandala Maker has seven levels (instead of five or twelve, for instance) is a matter of ancient history, seven being the number that has occurred over and over in primitive art, in classical art, and in the myths, the architecture, the dance, and in the ceremonies and the celebrations of cultures the world over.  Universally, seven emerges as symbolic of the number of sequential phases in a creative process.  And, from the seven notes of the musical scale and the seven colors of the spectrum, we know that "phases" have also to do with vibration.  Different notes are received by the ear as different vibrational rates and experienced as particular sounds.  Different colors are perceived by the eye as different rates of vibration and interpreted as different colors.  The seven "days" of creation form a mythic evolutionary scale.  The seven days of the week also form a scale of sorts, one we live, different peoples setting aside different days for work, rest, recreation and worship, and which rhythm is weekly repeated, interspersed periodically with religious and secular celebrations.

In a scale each phase has a unique place which can be "measured" against the other placements as to certain qualities and even quantities.  An example is violet, which on the color scale vibrates at approximately twice the rate of red.  (Crest to crest red rays measure 1/33,000 inch whereas violet rays measure 1/67,000 inch.)  Qualitatively red is outwardly and physically energizing and "hot", whereas violet is inwardly inducive.  Blue is known to be quieting and cooling.  Yellow has been found to quicken mental alertness, and green to create an atmosphere of balance, being neither overly active or overly passive.

Symbolic thinking is another facet of mandala making.  For example, on a comparative scale green can be corresponded to Wednesday of a week.  The week's work is leveling out and by the next day, Thursday, thoughts will be turning to the weekend's change of pace.  Green is also the mid-spectrum color and is associated with spring, the season of balance between the cold of winter and the heat of summer.  Corresponding a mandala's colors to a season, month or seasonal holiday may suggest a relevant name, or can become a way by which added significance is given to a mandala.  This is done by asking:  Does a particular mandala combine colors dominantly red, yellow and orange--]the advancing, activating, warm colors of midsummer?  Or are the colors mostly cool, retreating, quieting---the blue, indigo and violet of midwinter?  Or are they a balance of warm and cool colors, but with the brighter yellow and green of spring as contrasted to the darker blue and green of autumn?  And what about design arrangement?  Does it appear to be advancing? retreating? or standing still?



GAME # 2

Something to be learned from The Rainbow Mandala Maker is that our choices are greater than we previously may have believed, and less to be feared than we might have imagined.  If you add all the above sums (the seven squared times eight down to the seventh power times eight) you will be able to appreciate the total choices with which you are faced in playing this particular version of the Mandala Game.

The rule here is to make seven temporarily fastened together designs, one right after the other, leaving each together until all 49 pieces are used.  As explained above, the choices narrow as the game proceeds, until the colors for the last mandala already have been determined by all the previous choices.  Remaining are the seven colors rejected six times previously.  But even for this seventh mandala there is still a choice of eight different designs.  Moreover, the result of this "leftover" mandala is often so surprisingly different as to be the most pleasing of all, one you may never have consciously chosen, but which, in another way of speaking, you nevertheless really did choose.






In this game friends and family playing together can come to appreciate one another's multicolored, multi-faceted differences; can, in fact, celebrate those differences.

Sitting around a table, give each player (up to seven) one of the white card backings and a brass fastener.  Determine who will go first by rolling dice or drawing straws.  The person who wins the draw chooses first from among the seven largest squares.  The others then take turns rotating clockwise, each choosing one of the remaining largest squares.

For the next round the person to the left of the person who originally went first now takes first choice from among the seven largest circles, the others following as above.  The game proceeds as the players continue taking turns choosing first and until each person has constructed a seven-leveled mandala.  If two persons are playing each can construct three mandalas, or three persons can each make two.  With four to seven players let each make one.

To "win" this game is to gain appreciative insight into our differences (or our similarities) as revealed by our color and design arrangement choices.  This is facilitated when all of the completed mandalas are placed in the center and viewed for the unity within their diversity.  Observe whose colors are similar.  Whose colors are most different?  Which designs are most dynamic?  Which most restful?  Which seasons, months or holidays do the colors suggest?

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