A CLASSICAL 7-CIRCUIT MASKING TAPE LABYRINTH
The basic technique for making a classical 7-circuit masking tape
labyrinth is the same as for the Chartres labyrinth. You use a measuring
guide to put down bits of tape, later connecting them with the wide
masking tapeto produce the labyrinth. Only the pattern and the geometry
are different. To the right is the pattern I usually make, which
has an expanded center. It works well for groups.
See our instructions to make your own tape
machine, or to buy one of our stand-up
taping machines. We also have instruction manuals that are more
detailed, in our products section.
Fasten the measuring rope in the center and mark
on it the width of the paths eight marks for the eight circles
that enclose the seven circuits. In the traditional design, the center
is small, just the size of the path, as if the path just came to an end
there. Since the width is that of the path, the first mark on the guide
rope, being the radius, is equal to half the width of the path. All subsequent
marks are one path width apart. I usually double the diameter of the center,
making it two path-widths across. This also makes the marks on the guide
rope easy, as even the first mark is one path-width from the stake.
In expanding the center, the location of the first
mark on the guide determines the size of the center. It could be 10 path-widths
for example, so that you could put a fire pit in the center, or some benches
for sitting. The remaining paths are equally spaced.
The following instructions will be for the labyrinth
shown above. Remember that the Chartres labyrinth had eleven paths on
either side of the center? Well, in the classic labyrinth you have seven
paths on either side. The entire horizontal diameter, therefore, consists
of 14 paths plus the center. In this case the center is two paths wide,
so the entire horizontal diameter is 16 PW. Thus, if the paths were three
feet wide, the labyrinth would be 48 feet wide. Two-foot-wide paths give
a diameter of 32 feet, whereas one-foot-wide paths make a labyrinth 16
You will note that the labyrinth is not completely
round. The height to width ratio is something like 14 to 16. As before,
you can work backwards to determine your path-widths. If your space is
24 feet wide, then you divide by 16 and find that the paths should be
18 inches wide.
THE TOP CIRCLES
|With the Chartres pattern, we drew concentric
circles. The classic labyrinth, however, is not round, it is sort
of mushroom shaped. That's because there isn't a single center for
the circles, such as for round labyrinths. Rather, there are five
different centers for quarter or half circles which comprise the labyrinth.
The illustration to the right shows the five different center points
from which the labyrinth emerges.
|We begin by drawing half-circles,
which become the top of the labyrinth. Picture a horizontal line that
passes through the center of the labyrinth where your measuring guide
is attached. Start from a horizontal position and swing the guide
rope across the top of the labyrinth until it again reaches horizontal.
On the guide rope are the marks for the spacing of the paths, which
determine the size of the labyrinth.
|As you swing the guide from horizontal back
to horizontal, stop every couple of feet to allow volunteers to put
bits of masking tape (or, if you are doing this outdoors, they can
be putting down rocks) at each of the line marks on the guide. It's
quite amazing that in front of you is nothing, and behind you are
You can wait until the end to connect the dots,
or do it with each segment. Let's go ahead and connect the half circles.
Now we have completed the top part of the labyrinth.
THE LOWER QUADRANTS
|The remainder of the pattern
is made mostly of quarter circles which emanate from four different
points. You need to move your center post to each new location in
succession. First, go to the upper marks, to the left and right of
center. For a left-handed labyrinth (first turn to the left) the upper
left point is at the end of the third half-circle. The upper right
point is at the end of the second half-circle (counting from the center
outward). Reverse them for a right-handed pattern.
Move the device that holds your guide to
each of these points. Asshown in the illustration to the right,
the first line, closest to the centerpoint, will be a half-circle.
The rest will be quarter-circles. Make only as many as are needed
to connect to the half-circles.
Before completing the circles, make the cross.
This helps to see where the final circles will be located. The diagram
to the right should clearly show the location of the vertical and
horizontal arms of the cross.
|The centerpoints for the lower
circles are located at the ends of the second lines below the horizontal
arm of the cross. On the left there is a half-circle. On the right,
a half-circle and then a quarter-circle connecting the outer line
to the bottom of the cross. Voila, you have made a classical 7-circuit
labyrinth. With a little practice, you will find that you can do this
You can make the center as large as you would like
(to hold a fire pit, for example) by making the mark for the first circle
further out on the guide rope. All of the other circles remain equally
spaced the desired distance for the path width. When the top circles are
made larger, a compensation of equal magnitude must be made in the lower
quadrant opposite from the entrance. In this case, it would be the lower
|When the centerpoint is at the
top right, at the end of the second half-circle, the first line is
a half circle and the others are quarter-circles. You will immediately
see that there is a considerable gap between the end of those quarter-circles
and the vertical arm of the cross. That gap is filled by horizontal
straight lines, equal in length to the amount the center was expanded
beyond the normal classical design. These are shown in the diagram
as dotted lines. The turns on either side of the vertical arm of the
cross remain in the same place as before.
Now that you understand about expanded centers,
you will see that my illustrations above are actually of a slightly expanded
center. In such case, the horizontal lines aren't very apparent. But if
the center is large, then the labyrinth gets much more mushroom-like.
See Annette Reynolds in action, drawing a classical
labyrinth on the Alabama Gulf Coast: Photos
Now that you have the basics, make a few labyrinths
on your own and it will soon become second nature. For other designs,
see patterns. Send me some photos.