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A common pattern you will find in ancient Celtic art is the Maze or Key pattern. It was used as a filler for large blank spaces, to give them interest, and also as a pattern within other Celtic designs like knots and spirals. The Key Pattern is so called because the patterns it makes look a lot like the teeth of keys, all interlocked together. I also like to call them Maze Patterns because they remind me a lot of the old fashioned labyrinths that you could walk around in. Lots of dead ends and twists and turns!

I find one of the easiest ways to build nice, consistent Celtic Maze Patterns is to use graph paper. This gives you an even guide to follow as you plot out your design, and you can just follow the graph lines to draw your Maze patterns out. Each new step will be in red. As you go through the panels, old steps will turn gold, and there will be a new step highlighted, again in red.




First of all, mark off an area that is 8x15 squares large on your graph paper. In this area, make two diagonal lines, the first starting from the bottom of the upper left square, and then through the diagonals of six little squares to end one square up from the bottom of your marked off area. The next line starts one square over from where your last diagonal ended, and at the top again, as shown. It is not always essential to start the next diagonal one square over, and sometimes you start it at the top without moving over one square, or you can try it by moving over more squares. For this example though I'll just move it by one.


Now we add another direction of lines, and these ones start from the very edge of our marked off square in the bottom left corner, and across the diagonal to the very top of our marked off area. Notice that the line breaks on the middle, so it does not actually cross over our first lines. A good way to remember this is : if it touches the edges of the marked off area, then it breaks in the middle, and if it doesn't touch the edges, then it goes through the middle. It can only be one way or the other, one type line can't do both (touch the edge and pass through the middle for example). Make the other line from the top right corner and down the diagonal to the bottom edge, making sure it breaks in the middle too.


On our lines that do not touch the edges, we're going to add some arrow heads. Make the lines that point into the two corners longer, so that they go up to about one squares distance from the other lines that are there. They should not join these lines, they can go close, but shouldn't touch. The other end of our original lines that didn't touch the edges, points kind of to the center of the design. On this make a lopsided arrow head as shown. The line that makes the outside edge should be longer, going up to about one square away from the other lines, and the inner half of the arrow head is shorter, only about one square diagonal long.


Now our lines that came from the edges of our area have to get their arrow heads. Give the ends of these lines that come straight from the corners a perpendicular ending, about two squares wide, from the center of one square where the line ends to the center of the next on each side. Make a lopsided arrow head to the ends that are more in the center of the design, so that a longer half of the arrow head crosses through the center of the blank area, and so that the other end extends about one square width down the other way.


Now we add all the little triangles to the design. Start in the corner, and make two little triangles sit on the lines of the arrow heads, with the one side of the first triangle butting right up with the middle tail of the arrow head. Also add little triangles to the other long halves of the various arrow heads we've made.


Here I've added all the little triangles to the longer halves of the arrow heads, and to the corners of the design. From here your design is done, although you could also go on to color in all the little triangles different colors if you wanted to.


Continue to the Maze With Spiral Center...


All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current