How-To How to Create a Circle of Calm with Found Objects

Use whatever you have around in this meditative activity.

Plenty of things feel challenging right now, but I can name a few that have been particularly hard for me: 1) being creative 2) getting out of the house and 3) chilling the heck out. This low-pressure project covers all three, and it might give you a sense of control over one small sliver of the universe. You can make your handmade creation even more beautiful with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom before you share it on Instagram.

My name is Erica Larson. As a creative director at Adobe, I get to dream up inspired designs every day. I hope the stuff I make gets you dreaming, too.

Step 1: Gather Materials from Whatever's Around

If your situation allows, take a walk outside and look for fallen leaves and flowers, discarded garden clippings, sticks, stones, anything like that. If a walk isn’t an option, grab objects from around your home. Maybe you have a seashell collection, beads, buttons, or small toys; even things like dry beans will work. Anything small that you have a lot of is perfect for this.

Clay bowls of varying sizes, some have flower petals, others have green leaves, with green leaf decorations between

Step 2: Stage Your Work Area

If you’re like me and need a little help keeping things symmetrical, you can make a paper guide. Trace a bowl on a sheet of paper, cut out the circle, then mark out sections with a pencil. Lightly tape the guide to the area where you'll make your circle. Remember that whatever surface you’re working on will be the background of your photo, so if you don’t like how your area looks, cover it with colored paper, a tea towel, or your favorite dinner plate.

It’s going to be hard to move the arrangement once you start, so make sure there’s enough space around the circle to fill the frame when you take a picture. A reliable light source is important for a good photo, too.

Left side shows a person tracing a circle on blue paper around a bowl, right side shows circle cut out of blue paper

Step 3: Arrange Your Artful Display

I like to start by putting objects around the outer edge first, then filling it in from there. For this piece, the variety of colors and sizes works well, but using monochromatic materials or things that are generally the same shape would be just as cool.

When you’re finished, carefully remove the paper guide and use your phone to take a photo from above. Keep the camera parallel to the surface, and double-check that your own shadow is out of frame.

Animated GIF shows yellow flower petals added around edge of circle, followed by red petals and green stems in the center

Step 4: Get Some Perspective

If, like mine, your photo isn't 100% parallel to the surface, you can fix the perspective in Lightroom. I open the app on my phone and tap Geometry, then use the Vertical and Horizontal sliders to square up the less-than-perfect circle.

Geometry module of Lightroom app; Vertical & Horizontal are -21 and -4; before and after version of flower arrangement

Step 5: Make Insta-Ready Edits

If you want, play with the Light and Color options to polish the photo. I felt like the background was a little washed out and the colors not as vivid as they could be, so I tweaked some of the settings to liven it up.

Diagonal line through flower image shows before & after of light & color corrections; Lightroom settings show on the right

Step 6: Share Your Creation

There’s no need to export the image and re-upload it to Instagram—Lightroom has a handy Share button to make this process easier. Once you tap Share, choose Share to, and tap Instagram. Make sure to include #circleofcalm in your caption so we can see your creations.

Lightroom app Share tab with Share to option selected on left; Flower arrangement against bamboo wood shows on right

Find Inspiration in the Little Things

Use this technique with all kinds of objects, different shaped templates, or arrangements in different directions.

2 images: 1 shows a green & white vinyl record with multi-colored guitar picks, 1 is a collection of small shells on wood

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