Most ‘zen’ practitioners will tell you that reaching a state of higher consciousness is not an art but a way of life, where “awareness” is “consciousness”.

The emphasis on the present moment is perhaps Zen’s most distinctive characteristic. In modern times, finding the time and ability to disconnect from technology, busy schedules and sensory overload is near-impossible. This is exactly why Jonathan Odom of Instructables designed the ‘XYZen Garden’.

The device works exactly like an Etch-a-Sketch – allowing users to create their own miniature ode to tranquility and demands at least enough concentration that users have no option other than to focus on the present moment. The garden consists of a wooden base, a custom wooden pulley system, brass tubing, and some brass hardware that all come together to make a manual machine that works like a classic Etch-a-Sketch using sand as the drawing medium.


To operate the garden, a system of of pulleys and cables are manually driven over an X and Y axis. Jonathan has used a set of laser cutters to create the design of the exposed mechanism for an raw material aesthetic in-line with the zen practice that the device preaches.



The project – which was designed for his dad who fancied buying an Etch-a-Sketch since his childhood days – has only been tested by the office staff at Instructables.



We do see this becoming a coffee table conversation starter if only Jonathan can figure a way of crowdfunding the project into the mainstream. The cost of materials and time alone comes to over $1,000 – not including the laser cutter. Perhaps a streamlined and cost-efficient manufacturing plan could be in the works?

Find instructions to build one of your own over at Instructables.