Used as a meditative tool by Buddhists and Hindus, mandalas are typically found in the shape of a circle and represent the center or inner being. When used in meditation, mandalas are often employed as flexible wire balls that may be bent into various shapes that represent certain elemental forces like water and earth. A bit challenging to construct, these wire mandalas use various lengths of copper wire and may be adorned with beads or other trinkets with symbolic meaning or even healing properties.
Hold together nine of the 36 pieces of 1-/34-inch wire into a bundle and bend them over your thumb into “U” shaped petals. Do this for the rest of the 36 pieces, separating the petals into four groups of nine.
Bend the tips of wire on each petal forward using the round-nose pliers, curling the tips around the ends of the pliers to create small hooks on each end.
Form one of the 4-1/2-inch pieces of wire into a circle. Use the round-nose pliers to bend hooks into each end of the wire, and then hook the ends together once the circle is bent into shape. Bend the hooks down to close the wires.
Hook one of the petals onto the outer rim of the circle, and use the needle-nose pliers to close the hooks. Ensure that the petal is still able to move freely. Do not clamp down the hooks to the point that the petal is rigid, as the mandala must be able to fold back and forth freely.
Attach the second petal to the circle, making sure that one end of the wire crosses into the middle of the previous petal so that the two overlap. Clamp down the ends just as before.
Continue the process all the way around the circle, ensuring that each petal overlaps the other. The last petal should overlap the petal on one side, while slipping under the petal on the opposite side. This should create a flowerlike shape with “petals” that all move in unison when bent forward or backward.
Collapse the petals inward so that they form a domed shape. Turn the dome over and attach nine more petals, overlapping the second ring of petals with the first. This will leave you with a flower shape with two sets of overlapping petals.
Repeat the process using the second 4-½-inch piece of wire as the second circle, overlapping the other two sets of nine petals to create two flowers.
Position the two flowers so that one set of petals is pushed inward into a dome and the other set of petals fan outward along the rim of the circle. Line up the two halves to form a ball with fanned petals around the middle. The petals on both balls should line up with one another.
Wrap one piece of the 24-gauge wire around the middle of each petal using the needle nose pliers, pushing the coils together, so they are compact. Do not wrap the coils too tightly, as the mandala must be loose, so it may be formed into various shapes.