This simple mandala project turns a plain old paper plate into DIY scratch art. It’s bright and colorful and a great way to introduce the concept of radial symmetry!
DIY scratch art supplies ….
We created this simple mandala scratch art on a paper plate base. These concepts, though, could be applied on about any surface and accept drawings of any shape. I hope as you read you can imagine different applications for the various steps in this project!
Our mandala began with a simple paper plate- a Chinette paper plate to be exact. I think this supply detail could be a pretty big deal and bears a little experimenting if you’re going to branch out and try whatever extra paper plate is stashed in your pantry! Chinette paper plates are a super heavy cardboard type with no waxy coating. The cheaper coated paper plates may or may not accept the oil pastel as smoothly- I haven’t tried this. So if you try another brand I’d love to know your results!
You’ll also need oil pastels, black tempera paint, and something to create the scratches with. We used mini skewers which are slightly heavier than a plain toothpick. However, it did take a few skewers to get through the entire mandala drawing. This scratch art tool set might be worth it if you’re planning to make more than one of these!
Get started on your mandala art…
The first step in creating your own scratch art is to cover your surface, in this case a paper plate, in a heavy coat of oil pastel. I encouraged a radial pattern of colors because it matches up with the radial design of the mandala that will be drawn. This radial color design isn’t essential though- any colors will do.
What’s most important is that there is a heavy coat of color- so that no black paint can reach the plate below- and that the colors are bright! When the black paint is scratched away you want to see a contrast between the black paint and the oil pastel below. If your colors are dark or get muddy your mandala drawing won’t pop! We even added some color to the rim of the plate to create the possibility of scratching a border design later!
We used full size paper dinner plates, because that’s what we had! I love the idea of using a variety of sizes of plates-from dessert plates on up! This would make such an eye catching display!
Adding the “scratch layer” to your scratch art….
Once you’ve covered your plate in bright colors it’s time to cover them all up! That’s right- paint over the entire paper plate clear out the edge of the plate rim. We tried a sample of black acrylic paint and black tempera paint for this step. I tend to use tempera and acrylic paint interchangeably. For this particular process the tempera worked much better. The acrylic paint “stuck” a bit better. Normally this would be a good thing but in this case it prevented the paint from being able to be scratched off!
A thin even coat is what you want to shoot for here. In places where the paint was super thick it was hard to scratch off in fine lines and instead clumped off in a chunk.
Set aside and let the paint dry overnight or at least for a couple of hours before moving on!
Have your kiddos ever drawn a mandala before? Have you? Mandalas are super trendy right now. They can be seen everywhere- from clothing to stationary.
A mandala is a detailed drawing that radiates out from a central point in concentric circles. If mandalas are new to you I highly recommend checking out this mandala drawing template and tutorial post! It will help your kiddo draw a step by step mandala on a template that will disappear within their drawing. Then those same techniques can be applied to this mandala scratch art!
Creating a framework for your mandala…
The easiest way to create a framework for your mandala is draw a few concentric circles on your scratch art plate. Concentric circles are circles with a common center. They will never overlap.
You could do this with a compass, which I couldn’t find. (Shrug.) Instead, we traced a series of bowls to create a few concentric circles that provide some structure in which to draw the elements of the mandala.
Add a dimple detail that repeats all the way around a circle starting towards the center. (That way you don’t have to lay your hand on top of the drawing you’ve already done!) Think about repeating super simple elements like lines in different orientations, simple geometric shapes, or simple organic shapes. While the paint should scratch off fairly easily it doesn’t allow for as much detail as pencil drawing. Think simple.
Scratching the tempera paint away will reveal the bright oil pastel underneath. It will also result in lots of little bits of “paint dust.” Encourage kids to empty their plate straight into the trash occasionally instead of blowing them all around the room!