Christmas Gift DIY: Mandala Tattooed Wooden Plates

My mom did a lot of craft projects when we were young which had a massive influence on all 4 of her girls. To this day, our hands can make, fix and prettify anything. Our winter holidays were spent sewing, painting and being creative – those are some of my fondest childhood memories! One of the things that Mom taught us were wood soldering. We created little wall hangings and personalised anything made of wood, and I remember the amazing smell of the pine that softly burned under the soldering iron’s tip. It was during a recent sort out and throw out session that I discovered the soldering irons in a box. And when Ideas Magazine asked me to come up with a Christmas gift DIY, I jumped at the opportunity to use them! I found the acacia side plates and platter at a homeware store and decided that they had the perfect surface to create something beautiful on.

Christmas Gift DIY: Mandala Tattooed Wooden Plates

You will need:

  • Wooden bowl or plate. A wooden chopping board will work as well!
  • Mandala design
  • Lemon juice and kitchen towel
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Wood burning tool with a sharp-angled point
  • Piece of off-cut wood to clean your soldering tool’s tip with



Use a round object like a bowl to draw the outline of the mandala. Find the centre point and divide the circle into quadrants. Then add similar patterns to each quadrant – it’s very therapeutic! If you prefer, you can also download a mandala design here.



Use the lemon juice and paper towel to wipe any oil or residue from the wood and allow to dry.



Draw the mandala design onto the wood. Start with the centre point and draw the X and Y axis before you start filling in the patterns.



Carefully burn the pattern into the wood using the wood burning tool. It is advisable to wear a mask over your mouth and nose so that you don’t inhale the smoke.



When the tip of the wood burning tool gets covered with residue, wipe it clean against the offcut wood. You can also use this as a practice block for smaller details.



Rub out any pencil lines that may still be visible and give the plate a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth before wrapping.


Happy Gift-Making!

Step-by-step images by Ed O’Reilly for Ideas Magazine

Watercolour Christmas – nail polish mug DIY

I’ve seen a few examples of this nail polish mug DIY technique on the internet and was so intrigued that I’ve decided to try it for myself. The results were simply stunning! Who would have thought that nail polish can achieve this lovely watercolour look? And it’s pretty simple to do as well!

You will need:

Ceramic mugs and bowls

Selection of nail polish (not the quick drying type)

Water and container for dipping


Paper towel


Preparation station

Add water to a flat container. Use a disposable container as you won’t be able to use it again after this exercise. Add a few drops of nail polish to the water and break up the colour dots by dragging a toothpick through it to form a pattern.


Dunk it

Now simply dip your ceramic bowl into the water and give it a twirl so that the nail polish sticks to the surface. It is amazing what happens to the nail polish when it hits the water. It creates a thin plastic-like film around the colour areas. I found it fascinating.



Repeat this process with any old ceramics you have in the house. It’s lots of fun and makes pretty and inexpensive stocking fillers.


High and dry

Leave them to dry overnight on a piece of paper towel.


Wrapped up

Wrap them in tissue paper and boxes combined with nice ribbon. It will be very cute if you add a tag that tells the recipient that this item was hand-made by you. People seem to appreciate that more!


Please note: The crockery is not going to be food-safe, so don’t use this technique to decorate the inside of a plate or bowl that intend to eat out of. Make sure that you use CPG (ceramics / porcelain / glass) podge (the baking kind) over your designs to ensure their durability. And it’s best to wash by hand and avoid using them in the microwave.

Happy styling,