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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Amsterdam - 1 of ?

Maria writes: 
On a recent journey, my beloved and I had the great good fortune to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

This was one of the truly humbling experiences I have had as an artist. The architecture alone was stunning, with patterns and design everywhere.

We could have spent the entire day in one room, and not done it justice. There was one (colossal) room of just Rembrandt's works, . . .

. . . never mind the Vermeers and Van Goghs. It was so peaceful to watch people of all ages, from all over the world, standing still, as if hypnotized, not seeing anything but the works of art before them. The hushed din was reminiscent of a cathedral in mid day, when quiet was by choice, not demand.

Rick and I, were each on different missions: he with his camera and I with pen and paper. We wandered in different directions, checking back with each other every now and then only to point out one painting or ceiling detail that was not to be overlooked.

In the small (3-1/2 x 5") journal that my sister Sue brought me from Venice, I tangled or sketched snippets of images . . .

. . . a single button barely holding together an enticing swash of silk, an etched silver something or other, a drape of velvet, the inlaid ebony and ivory frame, a fold of lace . . .

The opportunities were endless and intoxicating. A sense of both excitement and calm was in the air.

The images fused together, as if they were always meant to be that way. Each "tangle" I encountered, was more beautiful than the last, begging to be included in the art-in-hand.

I kept thinking how fun it would be to bring groups of tanglers on museum hunts, harvesting the art, guiding our pens to immortalize these overlooked fragments of art once again.

Rick did the same with his cameras, taking (no kidding) thousands of photos of things I had missed or did not have time to draw. What an amazing re-viewing we had, when we finally sat and meandered through his treasures. We spent two days at the Rijksmuseum, one day at the Van Gogh Museum and another at the Staedtler Museum . . . all stories for future days and future blogs.

A return trip was in our hearts before we even left the city. It was that magnificent.

So, dear tanglers, we wish for you a day as we had.

Choose a local museum (and perhaps, a friend) and with your tools of our art, experience the romance of art, pattern and texture; of drawing in such an inspiring venue (double entendre intended!). Play an active and interactive part in your visit, not just a passively listening to words everyone else is hearing. Notice and appreciate the subtle details that are often missed . . . in frames . . . ceilings . . . floors . . .

Have people (or statues and paintings!) look over your shoulder, wondering what you are drawing.

See the art like you never have before.

Tangle, like you never have before.

Over the (harvest) moon.

Rick adds:
What began as, "This will make a great blog!" has become, "This will make a great blog series!"

Reviewing the (yes, thousands of) pictures, we realized this is a feast better served in courses, all the better to appreciate and savor its unique sights and insights; its individual tastes and tangles.

Inspiring details were everywhere. Here it seems Maria might be drawing from this painting . . .

. . . but what was recorded in her sketchbook was that painting's frame:

The sights were wonderful and inspirational. It was fun to see Rembrandt (van Rijn)'s "chop" on gilded pedestals . . .

. . . and stenciled walls.

It reminded me of one of my chops, with an added "V" (for "the fifth" . . . yes, actually!).

We are excited to share with you more of this visual bounty that we found in Amsterdam!

More . . . Much more . . . to come.


If you have had an experience like this, or just want to comment, we will randomly choose from our comment posters and send one of you a little something special.

Please remember, we have to be able to contact you, so if your comment comes in as "anonymous", that makes it rather difficult. Add a name, or make one up, and we will announce the winner in our next blog.

Click images for fantastic larger views!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dear Bijou . . .

Bijou says:

I have received (beaucoup) lettres from very enthusiastique tanglers from here and beyond my imagination.

One letter, from C(zed)T 10, Mademoiselle Marty D, tres magnifique, sends me her drawings of three wonderful cousins, "Bibi, Nina et Margot" who I have not seen in some time (they are so very slow to correspond . . . ugh, snail mail!).

They look happy. And the tangles, as you can see are very beautiful. I am sure my cousins are having a grand time playing amongst the tangle lines. I am very happy (and perhaps a bit jealous that I am not there playing, too! Non??)

But I have much work to do now that I am a, how you say it(?) "Blogger."

I have a special little beret I wear, when I am at work at Z Centrale, with my new friends in Whitinsville. I love my work, but prefer to just tangle all day in the sunshine, wouldn't you! Mais oui, certainement.

Here are some Zentangle creations and comments that will bring joy and a smile to even the busiest of you.

Mademoiselle Marty writes:
Dear Bijou,

Loving your little tiny tiles so much! Here's a sampling of them with a few of your cousins (they miss you so much) . . . Bibi, Nina and Margot!

Hope you enjoy them!

With special thoughts of you . . .

Marty and your dear cousins.

Merci beaucoup, Marty!


Click images for larger views.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Laniakea Tangles

Rick writes:
This morning we watched a stunning video from Nature - The International Weekly Journal of Science, showing superclusters of galaxies.

It's a short video. Short enough that I suggest you first watch it with the sound off just to appreciate the imagery . . . an imagery of tangles drawn by strokes of galactic trajectories, within three dimensional strings of universal scale, creating mosaics with other superclusters.

We wrote in The Book of Zentangle,
Our world is awash in patterns.
Our world is patterns.
This video suggests the same for our universe.

Our night sky displays one perspective . . . but step back a few fractals and appreciate the elegant patterning of supercluster tangles dancing within cosmic boundaries of 3D strings (nicely displayed at 3:00 in this video).

"Laniakea" translates from Hawaiian to English as "Immeasurable Heaven"  . . .  how wonderfully reassuring.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A dear friend of ours and CZT, Sarah Del Mastro, recently posted these on her blog. We thought you would enjoy them!

Sand Tangles
(We've always said you could create Zentangle art with a stick at low tide!)


Bijou etait a la plage!

What/Who IS that coming out of the sea onto the beach?


Thanks to everyone who added such wonderful comments to our recent "Stuck Up" blog post. It's always nice to "see" everyone's voice over the waves.

If you haven't already, please take a moment to read some of the great ideas that posters offered on that blog post.

As promised, here are a few names we picked at random to send some "Bijoux" (translated from the French word for Jewels) your way!

Diane Lithgow 
Barb Burgess 
Robin Jones 

Please contact Bijou (he insists on helping) at bijou (at) zentangle.com to give us the snail mail address to send you your "Bijou" tiles!


Rick and Maria (and of course, Bijou, too)


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stuck Up!

Maria writes:

I have received a couple of letters recently that said:
"What on earth am I supposed to do with all these Zentangle tiles once I have drawn them?" 
Well, I never have thought this might actually be a problem (as you'll soon see).

Maybe if I carved life-size birds out of wood, after carving 50 or so I might wonder where to put them, but not a 3 1/2" square of paper.

Since we already have sooooo much stuff on the walls, we are having to get really creative as to where to put them. But it's fun. Sorta like it's the hunt for the "perfect" pair of boots that makes the day interesting, not the purchase.

While I can understand that it might not be feasible to frame and hang every one of your tiles, it may be fun to have your favorite ones hanging around and interchange them often . . . giving yourself time and opportunity to appreciate your new-found artistic self.

So, here, my friends, are a few suggestions on what you do. Get stuck up. I mean, literally. There's this stuff called "mounting putty" or "removable adhesive putty" that is super sticky but not so sticky that it destroys stuff when you take it down. And it does not (as far as I can tell) destroy your Zentangle tile. This stuff sticks to pretty much anything. And because a tile weighs almost nothing, it hold fast and you don't need to use much.

I stick tiles to the walls, mirrors, furniture, car windows, inside the glass on glass cabinets, bathrooms, stick them on top of the glass on other framed pieces that you might be a bit tired of (this is actually pretty cool), kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, windows . . . you get the idea.

 You can see the putty because the tile is on the inside. This is a tile that was sent to us by an avid tangler.

 We use this everywhere.

 Old pictures get new life!

 Often gravity is sufficient. 
Or wedge one in a frame, . . .

 . . . in between mandolin strings . . .

 . . . or inside a car lantern found in Rick's dad's basement whose windows were exactly 3.5 inches square!

Well, one other thing I like to do with my tiles is give them away!

Let us know what you do with your Zentangle tiles and we'll send a gift* to one of you lovely commenters!

What's your story?

Click images for larger views.

* Bijou insists we send a Tinful of Bijou Tiles!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Merci Beaucoup

Bonjour, mes amis.

Merci beaucoup. . . . for the warm welcome into your Zentangle community.

I have received many beautiful emails (though, no snail mail . . . yet). With Maria's help, I am answering all your emails! The rest of my days are filled with tangles and smiles. I even dream of tangling. (Yes, snails dream!)

Here are a few portraits Maria has done of me and some of my friends. And, some fine Zentangle art as well from Molly and Rick.

Mais oui, all of them on my "Bijou" tiles, naturellement. C'est magnifique!

I hope to meet you all someday.

Until then, I will keep you posted as to my tangles and whereabouts.

Love to all,

I gave my first public interview to Laura Harms, CZT. It was a lot of fun. She asks good questions. You can read it here at her blog post. Many tanglers posted Zentangle art on Bijou tiles to welcome me. They are beyond magnifique.

I am "over the moon" with joy!


Thursday, July 31, 2014


Our dear friend and long time employee, Nancy Sampson, died last year of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease."

As her symptoms progressed, Nancy lost her ability to speak and move, except for slight head movements.

After several months of unsuccessfully trying to use a very expensive, speech-generating device (basically a computer with technology that tracked eye movements), Nancy and Len (her husband) were very frustrated.

When Maria and I visited, we were saddened to see her husband's frustration at not being able to communicate with his beloved wife. This frustration was amplified for everyone, because inside that still beautiful, but unresponsive body was the same vibrant and quick-witted Nancy we had always known and loved.

Len described how much hope they had placed in the high-tech speech device. Len was facing the prospects of never conversing again with his wife who was sitting right there, fully aware of everything that was going on. It now all felt hopeless.

That evening Maria had an idea.

She lettered the alphabet, numbers and some key phrases on a large 3 x 4 foot piece of 1/2 inch foam board. I ordered a bunch of laser pointers. We got a pair of Nancy's sunglasses and removed the lenses. We used electrical tape to attached two small laser pointers with switches (so they would stay on without keeping them pressed in) to Nancy's eyeglass frames. We used two laser pointers so the frames were balanced, and if a battery ran out in one laser, the other could be immediately turned on.

Because the board was placed across the room from her, all Nancy had to do was move her head ever so slightly to point out the letters. The large board enabled Nancy to speak to the whole room or to one person. It worked perfectly from the very first minute she used it.

We remember fondly when we first set it up, that in spite of her circumstances, one of her first "spellings" was to tell a joke to her husband.

Suddenly, the Nancy we all knew was back . . . chatting, teasing and cracking jokes. She could "talk" again with her beloved husband, her family and her friends.

Nancy used her board to communicate with her family for months until just hours before she left.


The laser pointers were about $9 each. We had the foam board in our studio (a 40 x 60 inch half-inch thick foam board costs about $25). We used an old pair of Nancy's glasses. Total cost: about $45.

Her care givers had not seen anything like this before. As far as we know, this idea was not in use in this circumstance.

A recent article we read about ALS and its impact on communication with loved ones prompted us to share this.

In Nancy Sampson's memory, please share this idea with anyone you know who can use it. This idea is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

In her memory, we call it "Nancy's VoiceBox."

We love you, Nancy!


Note 1: The decorative pattern on Nancy's VoiceBox is the Zentangle tangle, sampson, which Nancy designed.
Note 2: Please follow all instructions and cautions that come with whatever laser device you use.
Note 3: We are working with Len to design a product that folks can buy with all profits to go directly to families caring for ALS patients. Len will manage it. In the meantime, a high resolution image of Nancy's VoiceBox can be downloaded from zentangle.com/images/voicebox.jpg
Note 4: For further information, email Nancy's husband, Len Sampson, at lsampson_1@charter.net

After posting this blog, we sent a link to Mike "Mish" Shedlock, who writes a popular and insightful financial blog, "Global Economic Trend Analysis." We sent it because Mish is active in raising funds to cure ALS because he recently lost his wife to this disease. Mish shared this blog post with his readers at this link. One of his readers posted this comment:

Hello Mish

Thank you for this idea. My mother has a stroke the eliminated her ability to speech. Someone made flash cards for her, but that never worked very well. I can see that the speech board containing many options plus the ability to spell out works all in one place would have been very valuable. My mother died in early 2010, but I am motivated to pass on this information.


In other words, this is not just for people with ALS. Thank you, Mish. Thank you, Johana.

Click images for larger views.