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How to Make a Circular Grid for Celtic Key Patterns

Digging around my Irish roots, I found Celtic Key Patterns.

Celtic Key Patterns are described in my little Wooden Book as great space filling devices. Although I aspire to much more than filling space I decided to give key patterns a try. It’s not as easy as it looks. Ok, it doesn’t look easy. The first step is to make a circular grid. Then make a pattern that will fit the grid. I made my grid with 84 compass points, so I had to come up with a pattern whose smallest increment is a factor of 84. There are plenty of numbers to choose from but I wasn’t sure how to count the rhomboids in the grid. This is hard to explain so you may want to ask someone else, because I just keep trying until I get it. I use a combination of trial and error, math and ESP. I admit to a number of failed attempts. The first time my pattern matched up I exploded with joy.

There’s a feeling when it all fits together. It’s like magic.

So I jumped right in and drew a grid for a larger band. This time, smarter, I decided on 60 points round the circle. Then the smallest increment of any pattern could be 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. . . Many numbers factor into 60, so I’d have better luck creating a key pattern that works. Actually the one shown here was copied from the book. In fact I didn’t even draw it. My partner Giuliana did. I was so mesmerized drawing the evenly spaced arcs that I just kept making grids.

Here’s what I discovered.

Making the grids puts me into a meditative state. The repetition, the gentle arcs back and forth, the focus and intent helps me relax. I found myself arcing around the circle, minding my own business and sinking deeply into a trance. I lost sense of time. My muscles loosened. I forgot my name. I rode that wave until the grid completed itself and I set down my compass with three deep breaths.

Here’s what I think happened.

When drawing circular grids the mind has something to do that’s complicated enough to demand all its attention but repetitious enough to invoke tranquility. Like rocking a baby to sleep, drawing the gentle arcs lulled me into a state of bliss.

Let the Mind Think

Thinking is what the mind does. It’s happy doing all that thinking. Its job is to think. So let it. Let it focus on something, something kinda complicated, but repetitious and a bit mundane, something like a circular grid. Try it. Like meditation it may not work the first time, but unlike meditation I bet it works the second.

More to come

I intentionally did not post all the pictures as the arcs are added and the form emerges. It’s rather unexpected the way it comes together and somewhat delightful when you don’t know what’s going to happen. So give it a try. All you need is a compass and paper. I used a piece 12” x 12”. I will post a detailed video in two weeks, along with how to design the key patterns.

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