Make a Miniature Zen Garden

For centuries, Japanese Zen masters have cultivated gardens of harmoniously arranged rocks and raked gravel, creating silent havens for peaceful contemplation. If you don’t have room for a full-sized rock garden, a miniature Zen garden provides an opportunity to appreciate the same relaxation and harmony.

You can make a garden for yourself in 5 easy steps:

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How to Draw an Endless Knot

There are eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. Used extensively in Buddhist art, each of the symbols is also associated with an aspect of the physical form of the Buddha. One symbol is a Dharma Wheel such as served as the illustration for our What Would Buddha Do post. The others are: a Conch Shell,  a Lotus, a Parasol, a Pair of Golden Fishes, a Banner Proclaiming Victory, a Treasure Vase, and an Endless Knot.

The endless knot, which seems (to me, anyway) to bear a striking similarity to some of the Celtic knots, is a geometric diagram that symbolizes interrelationships and how everything exists as part of a web of karma and its effect. Having no beginning or end, some believe the knot also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha, and the cycle of death and rebirth.

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Chocolate Body Paint

And speaking, as we have been all week, of chocolate and passion, what better way to combine the two than in chocolate body paint? I debated whether to categorize this one as a recipe or an art project. Ultimately, I decided to go with art project because, for one thing, we already posted a great recipe for Chocolate Nirvana earlier. And you will certainly have an opportunity to get creative with this. So there you go. Make something beautiful!

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How to Make a St. Brigid’s Cross

The design of the St. Brigid’s Cross straddles the pagan and Christian worlds. While it is a cross, it is also similar in design to fylfot or swastika, a profound symbol found worldwide. Possibly derived from a pagan sun wheel, the cross reinforces Brigid’s role as a sun goddess.

With a woven square in the center and four radials tied at the ends, these crosses are still used in Ireland today to protect the harvest and farm animals. The crosses are usually left in place for a year and replaced on the following St. Brigid’s Day.

In our post on how to celebrate this season, we suggested you might want to try making a St.Brigid’s Cross. Here’s how to do it:

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Make a Wycinanki (Polish Papercutting) Bookmark

You’ll be surprised by your own creativity when you make this beautiful Wycinanki bookmark. These directions are for a ribbon-like design, called Wstega (FSTENG-gah) that comes from the Rawa and Opoczno regions of central Poland.


• Sharp scissors (manicure scissors for intricate cuts)

• Colored paper—origami or solid color gift wrapping paper (one or more colors)

• Glue—white glue or glue sticks

• White or contrasting poster board or cover stock

• Iron [Read more...]

Make Your Very Own Paper Snowflake

Every snowflake is different, even paper ones that are cut using the same pattern, Cindy Higham assures us. And she should know; Higham is the author of the wonderful book, Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. In addition to the basic folding instructions, the book contains patterns for 75 different snowflake designs. But the reason that no two paper snowflakes will ever come out exactly alike—even when using the same design pattern—is that just the slightest difference in the way the paper is folded or cut will result in a new and exciting snowflake. And all we can say is…vive la différence!

The publisher, Gibbs Smith, has generously given us permission to make one design available to you in this post. The design I picked is titled “Ice Skaters,” but I chose it because it looked (to me, anyway) as though it could represent a personal celebration, and since we’ve been talking about snowflakes  and how they can serve as symbols for individuality, it just seemed fitting…

But enough of all that. Here’s how to do it: [Read more...]

Artful Healing: 5 Ways You Can Create a Peace of Art

Art can help us heal. As we suggested in our post about the tragedy in Tucson and the subsequent post on the way the Chilean women were able to express their grief through their arpilleras, art can provide a powerful outlet for the sadness and stress that many of us are feeling.

5 Ways to Create a Peace of Art

A few projects/exercises you can try on your own: [Read more...]

Make Colorful Firestarters with Pine Cones

Just like the brilliantly colored phoenix going up in flames, bright spots of color will make your fire—either in a fireplace or a campfire—even more beautiful. There are a number of ways to introduce additional colors to a fire, including many that use inexpensive and relatively easy-to-obtain household ingredients. I’m going to show you one very basic and easy way (that yields great results). [Read more...]

Decorate a Yule Log

This will be our second year decorating a Yule log. Last year, I got out all of my collage supplies and we made a really beautiful log with all sorts of glittery adornments and sparkly ribbons. It wasn’t until we got ready to put a match to it that someone (and it certainly wasn’t me…) suggested that just maybe all that plastic-y stuff might put out some pretty noxious fumes. Good point. So—we undecorated most of our log prior to burning it. Lesson learned.

I wanted to post the photo we took of it (before un-doing it) because it really was beautiful. So I looked in my highly organized filing system (which is to say, the bin under the table in the spare bedroom where I toss everything that I’m going to organize soonsomedayeventually…maybe, hopefully before I die…) but strangely enough, wasn’t able to put my hands on it. So I guess you‘ll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, now with the benefit of that experience, this is how I recommend you do it: [Read more...]

Make a Gratitude Shrine

Stevie's Shrine

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.

Meister Eckhart

I think the very act of creating a gratitude shrine is uplifting. But even beyond that, when you’re done you’ll have a beautiful visual reminder of everything you have to be grateful for. (And it will be a real day–brightener on those mornings when you’re having a difficult time remembering…)

The directions for this are going to be pretty loose, because the process itself is pretty loose! [Read more...]

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