Technology, Craft and Spirituality: Building a Gyroscopic Mandala

Our friend Thad Trubakoff, an MFA student in Woodworking at ASU and a contributor to our recent Cautions, Dreams and Curiosities anthology, just let us know about a cool new project, which he calls “Gyroscopic Mandala.” Check out the demo video and read Thad’s guest post about the project below. To learn more about ASU and Mandalas, which have been popping up around here a lot recently, visit our Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future website.

When I started working on a Mandala, I wanted to work out from the center of the piece. Not knowing where to begin, I set the problem aside and absorbed myself in other work. When I stumbled across an Internet video about gyroscopes, I caught a glimpse of the mechanical, divine simplicity and completeness that gyroscopes share with Mandalas. In artistic practice, contemplating a solution to a problem over a few weeks is usually better than forcing the issue; the answer usually finds you faster than you can find it.

A gyroscope is a microcosm of universal bodies at work. The laws it obeys are the same laws the universe obeys. It was naturally a perfect fit for the center of what was going to be a three-dimensional kinetic Mandala. Mandalas are created as a meditation activity, and once they are built they are used as tools for meditation. In the process of creating a Mandala, the tool becomes the maker and the maker becomes the tool. This dynamic mirrors the Buddhist notion of a path toward Nirvana, where divisions like “maker,” “tool” and “work” gradually blur and become meaningless.

Using my mind’s eye as a drafting board, I imagined a set of gimbals, which are an integral part in the gyroscope’s system: they house the precious center and keep it safe. When outside forces are exerted upon the gimbals, the gyroscope or center is allowed to make adjustments to remain in a constant centered state with regard to the axis. I feel that this motion captures the harmony of the Mandala – in this work, motion and stillness are interconnected elements of the same process.

To learn more about the Gyroscopic Mandala and Thad’s other work, visit