Spark a new love for family crafting this month with a classic Northern Michigan winter project that works wherever you’re riding out the chill be it Traverse City, Petoskey, or Mackinac Island. Requiring little more than a pan and a romp in the woods (or backyard), ice mandalas double as sun catchers. In winter, what could be better than that?

Here’s How:

Bundle up and head outside, gathering evergreens, sticks, bark, winter berries, and anything else you may want to include.

Choose a pan (nine-inch rounds work perfectly) and fill it with water.  Arrange your bits of natural beauty by submerging in the water.

Cut a piece of jute rope or twine and submerge each end in the “top” of the pan water to create a hook to hang the mandala from once frozen.

Put the pan outside, on a flat surface, and wait.  Once frozen, the mandala will pop from the pan with ease and can be hung outside from trees or porches to celebrate the beauty of Northern Michigan.

Try this: 

Pick several different nature preserves in your area and collect different pieces of fallen natural treasures from each, and use to make separate mandalas, noticing the different ecosystems represented by each.

Spring Note:

As brighter days come along, a sunny day makes these mandalas glitter and shine all the more. You may want to refreeze your sculptures at night when the temps drop below freezing. Or just enjoy nature’s way of returning your entertainment to the forest floor as the mandalas melt.