Saturday, July 19, 2014

Backyard Labyrinth and Compass

Meditative, magical and mystical... the traditional labyrinth has always been fascinating to me. Often found on the floors of medieval cathedrals, this timeless design is both functional and beautiful. 

Purple Labyrinth

Our last house had a very small outdoor space, so I decided to make the best of it. One of my goals was to make the space feel both magical and serene (for both kids and adults). I decided that adding a labyrinth to the space would help accomplish the mood I was aiming for.

Before

Purple deck
After

We had an underused, and weathered plywood "deck" that I decided would be the perfect place.
I started by painting the wood with a purple-grey deck paint that matched the pavers surrounding the area. This job went pretty fast with a standard paint roller and brush for the edges. Two coats later it was already looking better.




I purchased the "deck paint" from a local hardware store. But, this product is essentially the same thing I used: 


The next step was a Google image search for the "simple labyrinth". I knew it couldn't be too complicated if it was going to fit the space. 
I found relatively simple designs, that were reminiscent of the labyrinths found in old European cathedrals. 


To draw a circle on the ground I began by finding where I wanted the center of the labyrinth to be, and lightly hammered a nail into the wood, leaving about 1.5" out. Then I tied a piece of yarn to the nail. I pulled the yarn out from the nail until I found where I wanted the outside of the circle to be.  




Then I tied a piece of chalk to the end of the yarn, and pulling slightly on the yarn drew a circle with the chalk. After that, I made 3 smaller circles inside the first one. 
These would be my guides for sketching the labyrinth. 


Then, using the designs I'd found, and armed with a wet rag for erasing, I began to sketch with chalk. 




It took some trial and error, but once I had a design I was happy with I used white deck paint to paint over the design. You can just paint right over the chalk.



I found that foam brushes worked well for larger areas, and a regular brush for thinner areas. I was carful to work from the inside out, so as not to step on any wet paint!




I kept the purple paint handy for touch ups and modifications (and *ehem* footprints).

For the center, I knew I wanted something special. So I decided that a compass rose would be the perfect thing. Next, using a "compass" app on my iPhone, I found North, East, South and West. I did another google search, found a compass rose I liked, and used a dinner plate as my guide.



Then, I added a decorative letter outside of the circle the mark each direction. 




I still felt like the surrounding space needed some pizzaz. 

Before 

So, next I sketched in some free form designs. I used organic shapes like intertwining vines as my guide.


During

After


Overall it turned out well. The kids enjoy walking the labyrinth, finding the directions on the compass and driving their cars along the lines and curves. Adults and guests love the unique space and charm. It's always fun to add magical elements to your garden, no matter how small it is!






Magic!



For more about this small garden and yard, you might enjoy this post:

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