I’ve discovered a whole new category of paper crafts to do with my Cricut the other day, it’s layered mandalas.
I’ll admit, I had seen a couple of these on Pinterest and vinyl mandalas are hugely popular but to be honest, I’ve never been super into that whole bohemian vibe unless it’s the more modern boho-chic beach look so I wasn’t super motivated to design a mandala.
But then, I was flipping through the Restoration Hardware catalog which is like my version of window shopping and I saw this piece of wall art that was almost $1000. I looked closer and realized, I can make that!
If you’re interested in this art piece, here it is from RH.
You see, I like to really step up my DIY game. I’m not into slapping together some art project that looks like my kids did it. I want the real deal, I want to make $1000 art pieces that look like I shop at Restoration Hardware but in reality only spend like $10 on cardstock.
Who’s on board?
Ok, full disclosure, I haven’t gotten around to replicating this look just yet. I only practiced on some smaller cardstock with different colors so I can see the shadow effect more clearly. It still looks pretty neat though.
I used the designs from RH as inspiration but the basic concepts are same for making layered mandalas in general.
The key difference between a 3d layered mandala intended for the Cricut versus a regular mandala drawing is in the simplicity of the design. It is best to make 3d mandalas from medium to heavy cardstock and if you have a bunch of floating pieces or thin lines in your mandala designs, you’re going to end up with a shredded mess.
The actual layered mandala from Restoration Hardware has way more layers to it. I reduced the number of layers. I felt like it didn’t add much to the look of the end piece and it was just too much work to cut 20 some layers of paper and clean up the scraps. Plus, if you are not going for a monochromatic look, then I’m not sure I can find 20 shades that go together for one piece.
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Materials for 3D Mandala
Cardstock – I would recommend cardstock that is at least 60lbs/m^2 which is the standard medium weight cardstock. You’re going to need a lot, my designs have 8 layers each. Here are some of my favorites:
- Recollection Assorted Starter Pack – Basic assorted colors, great starter pack, perfect weight for most papercraft projects
- Metallic Shimmer Assorted Set from Amazon – This set is a little lighter in weight but the colors are beautiful in 3D
- Cardstock Warehouse Brand on Amazon – I love the quality of all the matte colored cardstock with Cardstock Warehouse. It is my go-to brand for individual matte colors that I might need
- Stardream Metallics Line – For paper crafts, the Stardream line is the go to for a metallic shimmer finish. It is the perfect sheen to make any project pop. The core is also colored is which hard to find for metallic paper.
- Assorted Pink Set from Paper Paper – This is a must-have for paper flower makers. The variety is perfect to create a bouquet.
- Assorted Purple Set from Paper Paper – This is another must-have for paper flower makers. I love the variety of finishes in this pack.
- Metallic Variety Set from Paper Paper – I don’t know any avid paper crafter that doesn’t use Stardream metallics line of shimmer paper. It is the only metallic cardstock line that I know of that has such variety and has colored cores.
Adhesive – My preference is the adhesive dot rollers and especially the Scotch brand one because it has the best dispenser. You could also use a glue pen or just regular pen, I just feel like it doesn’t stick as well and it’s harder to use. I also tried rubber cement which worked well but it smells so I don’t like to use it. Just don’t use polymer glue because it warps the paper.
Lint Roller – This is an absolute necessity in my book for this project for clean up.
Template – I made 2 shadow box versions of the layered mandala and one standard 3d mandala. All of them are available for free in my resource library.
How to assemble 3D layered mandala SVGs
Step 1: How to cut mandalas on the Cricut
I prefer to use a fresh light grip mat with a fresh blade. Even though the design is not as complicated as a regular mandala, it is still a lot of cuts. And even worse, it’s a lot of little scraps to clean up. I find the standard grip green mat a pain to clean.
After I make the cut, I peel the mat away from the design, not the other way around. It minimizes the warping of the piece. I also find if you flip the cutout over, it sometimes looks a bit cleaner. There is something about how the Cricut blade turns corners that makes it fray the paper just a little bit for more intricate designs. It mostly looks fine but if you are picky about details or couldn’t get your hands on some cardstock with a colored core, I would consider either mirroring the design before cutting or flipping the finished piece to show on the other side (the side facing the mat). Regardless, just be consistent. I did align and make the design symmetrical but just in case, it will align better if you use it all on the intended side.
I then use my lint roller and pick up the scraps. It takes like 5 seconds with the lint roller. It takes me about a couple of minutes picking things off with tweezers.
Alternatively, you can bend the mat backwards and sort of flick the scraps off. Try to do this with tweezers or a scrapers. Don’t use your hands, there is residual oils on your hands and it will make your mat less sticky faster.
Step 2: Assembling the layered mandala
I like to use an old magazine flip the piece I’m gluing over and just roll my dispenser around with the magazine in the back to catch the overflow.
I would recommend putting the adhesive on the back side of the layer your are attaching. If you put it on the already layered stack, you risk getting excess glue on exposed parts which then collects dust and other debris.
Step 3: Option spacers to create a more 3D effect
I didn’t do this because I thought it looked 3D enough but some other tutorials will tell you to use spacers.
There are a couple of ways to create spacers. First, you can just cut each layer multiple times.
The second way is to use foam or mounting tape.
Both methods seem quite tedious so I’m not sure which one I’d recommend. I prefer getting a more dimensional effect by using different colors and shades.
One last thing, I made 2 of the designs as cutouts fro ma square and the third as a stand alone mandala. I did this because I thought each design looks better for its chosen shape. If you want to turn the stand alone mandala into a square one, you will need to take each layer and contour hide the outer most outline and attach it to a square background. Make sure the contoured layer is centered in the same position on the same square for all layers or else the layers will not align properly.