Beautiful Proportions in Sacred Arts, Crafts and Architecture

Worldwide traditions looked to the archetypal patterns of mathematics and nature for their compelling designs.
Use Constructing The Universe Activity Books to learn to see and apply the geometric patterns underlying the great worldwide sacred arts by replicating them.

Michael S. Schneider

“If you do not rest upon the good foundation of nature,
you will labor with little honor and less profit."
Leonardo da Vinci

"The good, of course, is always beautiful, and the beautiful never lacks proportion."
-- Plato

(Artists should) "... fix their eyes on perfect truth as a perpetual standard of reference, to be contemplated with the minutest care, before they proceed to deal with earthly canons about things beautiful."
-- Plato

"Mighty are numbers; joined with art, resistless."
-- Euripides (c 484-406 BC, Greek playwright)


Now Available!

Only Through This Website!

Constructing The Universe Activity Books

Create and Explore Geometric Patterns
of Nature and Art

Michael S. Schneider

Ideal for Teachers, Artists, Craftspeople, Architects, Designers
and anyone who wishes to be inspired
by the relationships of mathematics with nature and human creativity.
Learn geometric composition from the great masters!
Filled with hands-on geometric constructions and activities.
Many Illustrations. Easy To Understand. Self-Paced.
Available Only Through This Website!
Click here to learn about these Activity Books
and see their Tables Of Contents.


Natural Design and Sacred Art

The beautiful "Book Of Nature" speaks a timeless language of geometric patterns, written in an alphabet of simple shapes. Everything from atoms to galaxies, flowers, seashells and the human body are based on this small archetypal alphabet at the heart of all "sacred geometry" traditions. It served as the basis of the symbols of religions, mythologies and fairy tales, and underlies the designs of sacred art, crafts and architecture across cultures. Students will learn to recognize and read nature's symbolic language, and will construct many of these fundamental geometric patterns and use them to design original works of art.

The Art of Root-Rectangles

Architects, craftspeople and artists from prehistory to the present have known about the classic proportions which emerge from the simple turning of a compass. A knowledge of the fundamental root-ratios allows a designer to harmonize the overall form of a creation with its internal decoration. producing a powerful coherence and aesthetic effect on viewers. These are the proportions used in the designs of temples, monuments, sculpture, painting, pottery, jewelry, furniture, royal seals and coins.

Topics include the philosophy of dynamic design and the elements of “dynamic symmetry”, construction of the five basic “root rectangles” and their rabatment. Participants learn to evoke aesthetic guidelines and discover “hotspots” towards which the viewer’s eye naturally gazes.

To see a geometric analysis of the Biblical illumination called "G*D The Geometer" click here.




The Art of Polygons

Another method designers have always used to create the classic proportions occurs in the hidden use of regular
multi-sided polygons, the archetypal patterns we resonate with whether we see them or not. Learn to recognize
the basic polygons and see many marvelous examples of their use in art, crafts and architecture from ancient to
modern times.

Volumes 1 and 2 of the Constructing The Universe Activity Books set are filled with hands-on activities related to this workshop!
Or click on each cover for more information about each.

To see how polygonal geometry was used to structure ancient Chinese Pi discs, click here.

Worldwide Healing Art

Across many cultures, traditional healing included meditation upon sacred art. Although expressed in different
ways, much sacred art has an underlying geometric framework guiding the arrangement of images. When
constructed and used properly, these sacred designs can have a healthy effect upon the viewer. This class will
examine geometric schemes of healing imagery from various traditions, including Native American, Buddhist,
Hindu, and Christian, and show how to read the geometric message underlying the obvious scene and symbols.

Sacred Windows

Light shines everywhere on Earth, but a sacred window transmits and sanctifies light through its shapes,
proportions, colors and pictures. Learn to recognize and read a window's underlying geometric symbolic message
in examples from various cultures. Bring a geometric compass to learn how to replicate the construction which
yields a window or the facade of an entire cathedral.

To see an analysis of the north Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, click here.

Principles of Sacred Architecture

Christian cathedral plan / Hindu temple plan

In all traditions, sacred architecture is consecrated space representing the entire cosmos in miniature, an
imago mundi. The symbolic structure of sacred architecture reenacts the local creation myth in which chaos is brought to order. Sacred architecture is spiritual wisdom made visible, a map of the Real which exists outside and within ourselves, a map of our spiritual journey for gathering and integrating the fragmented chaos of our lives into a coherent whole. Mandalas become the floorplans of temples. This class will survey worldwide sacred architecture traditions for their common underlying principles, and how to read their geometric symbolism. [Note: Michael designed the geometry which guides the sculptures at the north side of the Portal of Paradise, the main entrance to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.]

"Architecture aims at Eternity;
and therefore, is the only thing incapable
of modes and fashions in its principles."
-- Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723, English architect)

Design A Cathedral

Cathedrals, like other sacred structures, were designed not by whim, taste or fashion, but according to the timeless principles of sacred architecture and the archetypal patterns which emerge from number and geometry. Learn about the basic schemes at work guiding cathedral floorplans and elevations. You are invited to bring a geometric compass and straightedge to learn how to construct and apply "root rectangles" and other basic patterns used in traditional cathedral designs.

"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."
-- Winston Churchill

Design Sacred Pottery

To many ancient cultures, geometry and number were considered to be the purest expressions of "perfect truth", unchanging and universal. By applying geometric harmony to the design of sculpture, pottery and architecture, cosmic truths are brought to Earth, imbuing art with timeless beauty. This class will look through the eyes of a Greek geometer to design sacred pottery using the proportions made by simple movements of the compass. Based, in part, on the work of Jay Hambidge. Bring a geometric compass, straightedge, blank paper and colored pencils.

"The mathematical rules of the universe are visible to men in the form of beauty."
-- John Michell

If your're interested in this topic, you'll want to work with Volume 4 of the Activity Books: Dynamic Rectangles: Explore Harmony in Mathematics and Art.
Click on its cover for more information!

Design Egyptian Jewelry

The ancient Egyptians are well known for their beautiful sacred jewelry. But less known is how they used an underlying symbolic geometry to express the power of their works. Participants learn to recognize and replicate the geometric frameworks used by the early Egyptians, and are encouraged to create their own designs using this ancient system of proportion.

To see a geometric analysis of this necklace of the Egyptian Princess Sit-hathor-yunet, click here.


Golden Section Design

The golden proportion "... is a scale of proportions which makes the bad difficult (to produce) and the good easy."
-- Albert Einstein (in a letter to the architect Le Corbusier)

It has been long known that the same patterns of wholeness, growth, balance and beauty found in the designs of plants, animals and the environment are repackaged in the measures of the human body. The relationship which unifies all life is the Golden Mean, also known as the Divine Proportion, which Kepler called “a precious jewel” and with which the architect Le Corbusier derived his Modulor System. The Golden Section describes the harmony of part and whole, and is a key to designs from Greek vases to the UN Building. This workshop guides participants through the Golden Section as number relationship and geometric shapes, its appearances in nature’s architecture and ideal design of the human body, and its pleasing proportions seen in worldwide arts, crafts and architecture. Participants will be guided to use Golden Section Design in original creations.

If your're interested in this topic, you'll definitely want to explore Volume 3: Fibonacci Numbers and The Golden Mean Activity Book!
Click on the cover for more information!

Islamic Patterns and Escher's Art

M. C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch artist most recognized for spatial illusions, impossible buildings, repeating geometric patterns (tessellations). He was inspired by Islamic art, molecular crystallography and lace patterns.

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(c) Michael S. Schneider 2008