Welcome to BLOG Zentangle. To learn about Zentangle, visit our website, read our free newsletters, take a class with a local Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and best of all . . . create your own!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Eggs

Rick writes:
At once strong and fragile, eggs have an elegance of design that has invited decoration for millenia. So it's no surprise to see Zentangle art tangled onto their surfaces.

Our first example comes from a class taught by area CZT, Sarah Del Mastro:

This second collection comes from a class that Molly Hollibaugh, CZT, taught:

Check out this touching blog entry where Molly describes making these eggs (and more).
From childhood, both Maria and I associated painted eggs with Easter. In preparation for this blog post, I searched "Easter Egg" and found this Wikipedia entry fascinating.

We also associate rabbits with this time and right on cue, Susan Cirigliano, CZT, sent us this delightfully tangled image:

Thank you, Susan!

However you celebrate, all of us wish you and your family a Happy Easter!

Click images for larger views.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Rick writes:
Molly came across this tangle called weben (German for "weave") on this Flickr page from idiloewenherz:

I fell in love with it (maybe because of its straight lines . . . :-) and wanted to share it with you in case you haven't seen it.

It's a perfect tangle for shading. It's simple, yet asks you to pay attention. It offers a three-dimensional surprise. Its first two steps are just like w2, yet one simple change takes it in a fun and unexpected direction . . . sorta like a combination of mi2 and w2!

Maria and I have been playing around with it and taking it in different directions. Here are a couple tiles from our kitchen table:

We invite you to explore weben's many possibilities (and tangleations!).

Click images for larger views.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Classes with a CZT

Rick writes:
One of Zentangle's charms is its simplicity. Draw a string, fill it with a tangle, and voilà!

Another of Zentangle's charms is its availability. You can do it just about anywhere with just about anything. We often say that all you need is a stick at low tide (assuming it's a sandy beach, that is).

But, there's more to discover about Zentangle.

One of those discoveries is the different experience you have when you use the tiles and pens we chose for our Zentangle Kit. It's become a familiar story to get an email along the lines of, "I thought it was so silly to buy squares of paper and pens from you but, after a few years of tangling, I finally bought your kit. Now I get it! Thank you so much for putting this together, etc."

Another important Zentangle discovery occurs when a person takes a class with a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Because of Zentangle's simplicity, it's easy to miss its depth and its potential.

This next example is a familiar theme that occurs after someone takes a Zentangle class with a CZT. Here are some edited and emphasized excerpts from BethB's blog post, Botanical Bliss and my CZT:

"I had the good fortune to meet Brenda Shaver-Shahin, CZT, who had just relocated to within about an hour's drive of me. I was so excited, and booked a lesson with her. She is warm and welcoming, and an excellent teacher. We made the decision to start from the beginning, and we did. We didn't stay there long, however, as it seems I had managed to come quite a long way with Zentangle, on my own. After that first lesson, I was totally inspired and created the first big ZIA that made me say "Wow, I did that?"

"One of the most important changes for me, after only two lessons, is that I'm becoming ok with my own art. I can be very hard on myself, and we have so many incredibly talented artists in the Zentangle community. I was actually getting discouraged, and feeling like I should be able to make my art look like theirs. I'm finally learning to be patient with myself. I am only 7 months in, and I don't have much art background (more a crafter). I am beginning to just enjoy the process, which is the root of Zentangle, and not to worry so much about the outcome. It's funny how the result improves, when it stops mattering so much!

"I know that not everyone has access to a CZT, and I know all CZT's are not the same. No two human beings are. I would truly encourage you, however, if you do have a CZT in your area, to take some lessons. I find I have learned so much, in only two lessons, but it's more than that. It's the fun of talking about something about which you are both passionate . . . sharing sources of supplies and equipment . . . such as paper and framing . . . ooo'ing and ahh'ing over each other's work. It's about learning, and it's about laughing. I come away so inspired and encouraged. I can hardly wait 'til Friday . . . my next lesson!

"Here is the piece I will always love, because it represents a real milestone for me. My first botanical ZIA... YAY! It won't be the last."

Rick continues:
You touch on so many important thoughts, Beth:
  • Zentangle is about enjoying the process and result of putting pen to paper, not worrying about the outcome
  • The value of taking a class with a CZT, even for someone who has been tangling for a while
  • Approaching Zentangle as an ongoing practice – much like people who "practice" activities such as yoga or a martial art, they will do it on their own and regularly participate in ongoing classes
Another important thought Beth brings forward is Zentangle's community:

"The most wonderful surprise in all of this, has been finding such a warm and wonderful community built around this art form. Without exception those I have encountered are encouraging, friendly, generous of spirit, and great fun! Thank you, everyone, for the warm welcome. I hope you will enjoy this blog as much as I enjoy yours."

We invite you all to visit and enjoy BethB's blog!

Thanks Beth. And thanks, Brenda!

Please visit this link for a list of Certified Zentangle Teachers around the world.

Click image for larger view and links for more enjoyment and insight.

Congrats to Lorelei for winning the French Ivory shoe horn!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Watch Our Step!

Maria writes:
Yet another one of those difficult problems to solve:

We built a new workroom here at Zentangle central last year. We broke through a wall, added a door, and converted our old garage into a spiffy workspace.

This, so we didn't have to schlep everything upstairs just to carry it all back down. Plus, we were running out of room.

When we broke through the wall to put in the door, there was an awkward half-step down to the floor of the new workspace. I thought, I can live with that. Nothing's perfect. No problem.

But after a couple guests didn't notice the step, I knew we had to do something. But, what? We thought of putting a big sign ("I can make a sign!" I said proudly.)

That didn't work even a little bit!

How about lighting the step with Christmas lights? Cool. However that only works going out the door, and not coming in. Besides, I'd have those exposed wire issues to agonize over in our beautiful new room.

So, I sat and tangled a bit, and a bit more and . . . wait! WAIT!

I know, I know!

We can . . . .

And it's worked perfectly ever since.

Our give-away winner for
Congratulations! Your gifts are on their respective ways.

Click images to step up to a larger view.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

French Ivory

Rick has given me quite a few pieces of "French Ivory" (a celluloid material popular in the early 1900s) that belonged to his aunts and grandparents. There are boxes, trays, brushes, frames, combs, shoe horns, little dust pans, manicure tools, and a bevy of other decorative "accoutrements."

If you aren't familiar with French Ivory, you can read about it here and see some examples here.

The piece I want to tell you about is a hand mirror that has been shuffled from one place to another, never finding a proper home. It somehow landed on the kitchen table (lately my office during this cold weather) and at around 3 am on a recent morning, I began tangling it. I used a Sakura® IDenti™-pen. It glides so smoothly and has a similar shine like the "ivory" I was tangling on . . . like liquid scrimshaw.

How fun.

Whilst in the mood, I went hunting in our house for more pieces and . . . .

So, fellow tangles, keep a look-out for some "French Ivory" pieces at your local antique shops, second hand stores, or in your parent's attic. It is not terribly expensive (I saw mirrors like this priced from $10 - $22 online; our local antique store has combs and shoehorns for less than $5). However, it will become a valued treasure after your tangles appear!

Now . . . where was that comb?

And here's a piece I have done for you, dear Tanglers.

We'll pick a name from the comments section (please make sure we can contact you somehow!) or else we have to choose another name.

- maria

Rick adds:
Pencils work just fine for drawing strings. Maria also discovered that our Tsukineko® Fabrico™ gray marker is great for shading as is a white Sakura GellyRoll™ for adding highlights:

This shoehorn was engraved with a monogram, so that's why bronx cheer is where it is!

Click images for larger views.

Friday, March 15, 2013

John's New Helmet

This is a great follow-up to our previous blog entry about what surfaces you can transform with tangles.

About five years ago, Maria tangled our friend John's motorcycle helmet. You can see pictures in this newsletter and in this blog entry.

John recently got a new motorcycle and a new helmet, which he brought by for some tangle treatment.

Here are some pictures. (Coincidentally, our friend's last name begins with "Z".)

Maria used a Sakura® black, dual-tip IDenti™pen for this project. While it seems that these tangles are there to stay, our friend, John Z., may still spray it with a clear coat for extra protection.

(And now, I'll put away my "studio." :-)

Click images for larger views.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carry On!

Not sure if you've ever experienced this or not . . . .

I was traveling with one of my daughters (not going to mention which one) and we were in the airport. I was toting my carry-on bag, a really nice one I had purchased many years ago. It was a Brighton® brand bag with fine braided leather handles and a woven tapestry in a carpet bag shape.

I love its shape, size, and weight. It was just my size and it's perfect for traveling.

Well, my daughter took one look at it and I knew she was thinking . . . "What a LAME bag."

I said, "I like it." And talked about its shape, size, weight, etc.

"Yeah," she said, "but those monkeys and that camel, well . . . passé, Mum."

So, on the flight on the way home I took out my Sakura® IdentiPen™ and my gray Tsukineko® Fabrico™ marker which is really great for writing on fabric . . . and this is how I transformed monkeys and camels into . . .

. . . being cool, once again.


Not that there's anything wrong with monkeys and camels, it was just rather "mullet-ishy." Great when in style, but not so when not.

I have taken to the habit of listening to my children. I learn so much from them, from very small seemingly insignificant things to major insights. So I listen to all of it with the same enthusiasm. I know in my heart that I have learned more from them than anyone who came before me (and there were some great ones to be sure.)

One just has to listen . . . .

So, what do you know that you might transform?

And no, the winner does not get the bag! :-)

But I might find something.

By the way, the winner of the E Unum Pluribus blog entry was Debra Castaldi. Congrats! Your tile is on its way.

Click images for larger views of monkeys, camels . . . and tangles.

Monday, March 11, 2013

NAEA - 2013

Rick writes:

Maria, Molly, and I returned home yesterday from the National Art Educators Association annual convention in Fort Worth, Texas (US).

We enjoyed a wonderful whirlwind of conversations, classes and cuisine. We also fell in love with Fort Worth and the friendly people we met. It certainly didn't hurt that the sun was shining there while at home, 20 inches of snow was falling!

During the convention, one teacher came over to us to say, "Thank you for bringing so much joy to my kids." What better reward or compliment could anyone want? I quickly wrote down what she said so we wouldn't forget it.

Here are a few pictures to give a sense of our time at NAEA:

Using our Zentangle Apprentice™ Classroom Pack materials that we designed for youths in schools, we gave several mini-workshops from Sakura of America's booth.

People gathered around as they tangled on palm-boards or the booth's counter.


Many would then gather their tiles into a mosaic. It's always a meaningful moment to appreciate how each person heard the same instructions yet interpreted them in their own unique style. This is a great way to explore one's creativity in a structured method, but which also does not have any preconceived "right answers." I think everyone had a different perspective of their own tiles when viewing them in a group mosaic.

One teacher brought some comments her students had written about Zentangle. (There were many more, but these are all that fit in one frame.)

We autographed and personalized copies of The Book of Zentangle to benefit Youth Art Month (YAM). It was a great success. 100% of the proceeds went to YAM and we sold all the books that we and Sakura of America contributed. We continued to personalize books for teachers because Angie Vangalis, a Texas based CZT, had a booth right behind us and she had some books, too.

We didn't have a lot of time to walk the show, but when we did, we found some great patterns like this chair seat fabric. This would make a neat tangleation of w2.

Here, Molly, Maria, and I are tangling a large poster used in a workshop that Angie gave the previous evening. Two other CZTs, Amy Broady and Denise Rudd, also gave a Zentangle workshop at NAEA. Zentangle had a strong presence at the convention. That tangle that Molly is doing is pea-nuckle. It's one Molly created and it's a fun and surprising tangle. See this newsletter for step out instructions.

Maria and I taught a large class Friday night. It was so much fun because instead of the 30 minute workshops at the booth, we had a full two hours to enjoy each others' company. However, we didn't have a large enough table for our regular mosaic tradition, so everyone held up their tiles in an "air mosaic"!

We're expecting to receive more pictures from NAEA, particularly from teachers who were sharing some of amazing pictures of what their students were tangling. We asked them to send them, so after we receive them (hint, hint!) we'll post them here for your enjoyment.

Maria, Molly and I are still appreciating and talking about the important interactions, conversations and sharings that can only happen in face-to-face events. We are so grateful for everything that happened and for everyone that we met.

Click images for larger views. 

And speaking of images, any picture that has Maria or me in it was taken by Angie Vangalis. Thanks, Angie!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Next Step

As things would have it, Rick asked me to write a few blogs.

"Great!" I said. I couldn't wait to start. I had so many things to talk about.

But. I. Couldn't. Get. Going.

That ever happen to you? Writers's block, artists's block, musician's . . . well you know what I mean. Lately, whenever such things happen to me, I just start tangling. Instead of looping worries or fidgety fingers, I just grab a pen and let it tangle. My mind seems to quiet. The world, as I know it, disappears, just enough to ease the tension, anxiety of the present (in retrospect seemingly insignificant) and allow new ideas to appear. Not just solutions to the worries, but ideas I would never have thought of.

Now, I'm thinking, "is it that easy?"

Should I use this technique when I . . . can't find the perfect black skirt? (of which I have a "few" lurking in the closet,) What colors to paint the house? What ingredients to buy for supper? How to answer that particularly difficult question the kids have. . . . . Sometimes the answer wasn't in the multiple choice. . . .it was "D - Other."

So, maybe I shorten an old skirt or add a pleat or a tuck here and there. Or maybe it's time to add some color to my wardrobe.

Paint the house? What was I thinking! I love the way the paint is peeling and cracking around the window frames.

I dislike grocery shopping . . . let's see, what I can come up with using only leftover chicken, cilantro, salsa and cabbage? And (unlike these trivial "lifeisms") the really difficult problems, well, they deserve the quiet time and slow pulse thoughts that offer insightful directions. Often there's not an obvious solution, but there is an obvious next step to move forward . . . one stroke (step) at a time. And once I take that step, subsequent steps present themselves . . . and often those steps are ones that I had never considered.

Now, I have a new dilemma . . . tell everyone how this technique works, or keep it to myself and "appear" to be wise and way too cool?

Hmm. Methinks I shall partake in a bit of the tangle and figure this out as well.

What do you think?

Rick adds: "Seems like she already decided . . . LOL!"

Last week's winner of the "Tangle Heart" blog giveaway is Kathy Shabowski. One of my tiles is on its way.

Thank you all for the wonderful thoughts and ideas you so freely share with us and with everyone in this Zentangle community.

Too much fun.

Life is good.

- maria

Click images for larger views.

Friday, March 1, 2013

E Unum Pluribus

Some years ago (feels like five, but it was probably more like eight or nine) while I was cleaning up a bit (it sounds like I do a lot of this, but really not as much as I would like to think I do) I decided to make up our bed a little differently. I had just been in the linen department of some big store and witnessed the obvious use of "bed making" experts/specialists. Wow, those beds were awesome! Hmm . . . I thought . . . I could do this!

I figured that if the work we are doing ever went "south" or we moved to another part of the world . . . I could be one of these experts! But what does it take to get a job like that? Do you need a resume? Where do you go to school? Do you need a masters degree in bed making before someone looks at your portfolio? What school offers that as a degree program?

So, just like that, I began my "education" here at home. I challenged myself to make our bed in a different way, every day for one year. I am not talking about different colored sheets and bed spreads . . . oh, no. . . I mean using the same sheets and bedspread each time. (I did wash them every so often!) It was in the way I turned down the sheets, or folded over the spread. The position of the pillows (none of those throw pillows that ultimately get "thrown" on the floor (is that why they call them that?) Just the four pillows we sleep on. It was awesome.

Rick would often comment that it was an especially beautiful/interesting/funky "bed day." (Then he'd take me out for dinner! Of course, he probably was going to take me out anyway. . . but I liked to think it was because of my latest greatest techniques. :-)

I found it to be a great exercise in creativity, pushing myself to the limit . . . all within that similar self-imposed "elegance of limits" that we refer to in Zentangle . . . and all the while enjoying the outcome and the ridiculousness of it all! We got a lot of laughs . . . and I did it every day.

So what does this have to do with Zentangle? I decided to try out this phenomenon with a tangle. One of my favorite tangles is purk. I decided I would do a whole series of Zentangle tiles with just purk and see if I could make them interesting, beautiful, different, exciting, and fun. It really took the worry out of always trying to use something different, and it egged me on to discovering some interesting tangleations.

Rick adds:
Maria has discovered the fun subtlety of shading our black tiles with a gray Fabrico™ pen from Tsukineko® . . .

. . . and she continued playing with it on a Zendala tile:

Maria continues:
There's that "elegance of limits" sneaking in again . . . working within a narrow boundary (my tile) and with limited ingredients (purk). If you are feeling like a dare. . . give it a try. And if you have anything to add about this, I may have to give away another tile. Let you know who next week sometime.

As always, have fun.

- maria


Oh yes, Jane Menard will be receiving a tile from our random drawing on the Tea Time blog post. Congrats, Jane! 

Click images for larger views.