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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Doing the dishes

It is always fun (for me, anyway) to find new homes for my Zentangle tiles. I like them gathered around us in and about the house, not safely tucked away in a book or drawer. They seem to take on a function, a reminder of all good things. I like to just stick them on the walls with architectural putty (also called blue tack or white tack). I use this silly putty-esque feeling semi-sticky mounting stuff all the time, to keep dishes from sliding, to keep pictures hanging straight. I also use it to stick tiles right on the wall, be it plaster, wood or wallpaper. Some days I stick tiles to the corners of framed art or mirrors or wedge them between mandolin strings, the tines of an especially exotic fork. With  Zendala tiles, I love to use the putty to stick them to . . .

. . . dishes!

What a fun way to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon, wandering the aisles of no-name antique shops, second-hand bazaars and the like.

I even like to buy ones that have nicks and chips, because I know how they can be rescued by the mighty pen, wielded in Zentangle fashion, adorning it with tangles and . . . zen.

And, whilst you are out and about in these shops, you can also look for the tiny and wonderful miniature easels, to "pedestal" your new found work of art in a more regal fashion. If the plate is of the plain variety, old and yellowing or crackled ever so, you might add a border tangle around where the plate dips into the center.

A pre-strung plate! Use a Sakura® IDentiPen™ or even better, Sakura Microperm™. You can add perfs all around, then maybe an aura around them. This creates a classic border the likes of which you normally see on the edge of a gilt frame. The easels, you can also find online. (They are not as easily found as orphaned china.)

And, I was able to give one of the tiles a "hand." All us old artists, were certain to have been given these wooden "structures" to practice drawing (wooden?) hands.

You may have some great ideas of your own for presenting your tiles about your house. Tell us about them in your comments. And we will send goodies to a few randomly chosen commenters.


The winners from our last blog post, Walk on the Wild Side, are (drumrollllllll):




Please send your snail mail address to zentangle(at)gmail(dot)com and we will send you something special.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Walk on the wild side!

Maria writes:
My habit, when I begin to tangle, is to grab a square white tile; maybe once in a while, a blank white zendala. But I decided I would go over to the "other" side for a while and I got a stack of black Zentangle tiles. I wanted to really dive in head first and see what happens. At first, I began with simple strings on squares. Marking my corner dots, connecting them, drawing my string with a white charcoal pencil as I followed the basic Zentangle ceremony. Filled my sections with my go-to tangles, threw in a mac'n cheese tangle, and I let it draw me into its magic.

It did not take long for me to get hooked. I started to see opportunities not available to me when working on a white tile.

Like the original tile, the real magic appears when you add the shades of gray, but with black tiles, you also have the option of using a white chalk pencil or a Zenstone to add highlights and lighter tones. This added another dimension, not available when working on the white.

I then grabbed a new tool for working on black tiles – a gray Fabrico™ marker.  For years we offered this gray dual tipped marker for working on fabric (T-shirts, sneakers, aprons, etc.) when one would ordinarily use a pencil if it were paper. I began using the gray marker to shade the black tiles and it was spectacular. You almost don't even see it, except for the before and after tiles – it darkens the white lines but doesn't affect the black paper so much.

I love the subtle nuances it creates. AND you can make it darker and darker by adding another layer of the gray marker. OK, this is way more fun than I should be having . . . .

Also, I played with going over the white lines more than once. The first line of white can partially soak into the paper. But once it dries and you add that second stroke, it is brilliant! (in more ways than one) You could create stripes, only redrawing every other one, or going over the top half of each stripe, or adding a highlight here and there. The textures are lovely.

SO . . . you may want to take a little walk on the wild side, and dance with your Gelly Rolls®, try out those shades of gray, go find your ZenStone, wiggle some dust on those tiles, rough them up a bit.

Experiment with old tangles and new . . . monotangles and borders.

Zendalas, both strung . . .

 . . . and not.

Show your wild side. . . .


We will randomly pick some commenters to receive a tile as our way of saying, "Thank you," for commenting on our blog.

Many thanks,



We designed an introductory Black Tile Tool Set just so people could try tangling on black Zentangle tiles.


Updated October 7, 2015, to add:

We originally uploaded this blog post at 6:37 pm EST.

Molly received an email from our friends at Sakura of America . . .

 . . . within seconds of the same time, telling her that they had just uploaded a YouTube of Molly teaching how to tangle munchin on black Zentangle tiles using materials from the Zentangle Black Tool Set that we developed with Sakura.

Molly did that video a while back and we had totally forgotten about it when we did this blog post. We love it when that happens!

Oh yes . . . Here's the video. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Winning a Marathon

Maria writes: 
​When Zentangle appeared to​ us in late 2003, we knew immediately that it was important. When we started telling people about it, they thought we were perhaps working too hard, or starting to lose a bit of our minds, but we kept right on spreading our story.

I knew the importance and comfort of creating, and Rick. . . well he usually knows everything, but he especially knew the impact of the relaxed focus of meditation. But how could we have foreseen the directions that Zentangle has taken all of us. I personally feel more confident, extremely content and open to new possibilities, besides for a bunch of other changes in my life.

Recently, we received the most beautiful and fascinating letter. It is from one of our Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT 16). I remembered Linda, and was happy to hear from her. We asked her if it was OK to share her story with all of you, and she graciously said yes.

Our gratitude to Linda and All of You who take the time and effort to tell us your heartwarming and moving stories.

Here is Linda's letter in its entirety.

The Story of One CZT's Marathon 8/28/2015

Hello. I’m Linda Dochter from CZT® “Sweet 16.” Friends call me “Doc.” Back around the time I was in Providence, I was in the habit of walking several miles around my neighborhood a couple times a week (unless there was a convenient excuse not to walk). Too rainy, too cold, too tired, too hot, too busy, too lazy, too boring, too this, too that. Then I had an unfortunate trauma accident that left me with a broken back – one that required extensive surgery and landed me in a brace and a wheelchair in a rehab hospital for awhile.

In rehab, physical therapists worked with me daily to get me back to walking again. After a period of working on strengthening and balance exercises, PT Jim took me into an unobstructed hallway outside of the gym and gave me a walker. My assignment: To walk as far as I could with the walker with Jim following with the wheelchair. When I reached my limit, I could sit down in the wheelchair. As I collapsed into the wheelchair, Jim asked, “How do you feel?” “Like I just ran a marathon,” I responded. PT Jim measured the distance I had covered as 30 feet – about the distance to walk around a car with a walker and some difficulty. PT Jim recorded a note on my chart.

The next day, PT Jim and I ended the therapy session in the gym back in the same hallway with the same walking assignment. Again Jim asked, “How do you feel?” “I’m training for a marathon,” I responded. PT Jim measured the new distance as 43 feet. I had made it around a slightly bigger car, again with a walker and with difficulty. “A new personal best,” I declared. Again, Jim took notes.

Then the germ of an idea sprouted. This really was like training for a marathon. Had I not been encouraging others in my fledgling Zentangle® business– “Anything is possible – One stroke at a time™.” Could one pen stroke represent one step? Put one foot in front of the other. Cover a short distance. Record the result. Put one foot in front of the other. Set a new personal best. Record the result. Just keep putting one foot in front on the other . . . Make forward progress. . . . One step at a time. Yeah. Anything is possible, one stroke at a time . . . Anything is possible, one step at a time.

Days later, I set a goal to walk a real marathon (26.219 miles). Not in one shot, mind you, but by counting all the bits and pieces of PT exercises, walking to and from PT sessions, walking here and there around the rehab hospital. I recorded any distance where I put one foot in front of the other and made forward progress. The rehab therapists cheered me on every day.

On an occasional afternoon, I held basic Zentangle classes for other patients from those who need occupational therapy for hand dexterity to individuals who were confined to bed with nothing else to do except watch daytime TV. My only teaching resources were an Apprentice Classroom Pack and a burning desire to encourage the discouraged to keep on trying – just one stroke at a time. Some ambulatory patients just came to watch the class. Since everyone in class was in a wheelchair, the mosaic became a “passing of the tiles” so everyone could appreciate the work of others. The change in the attitudes of my students and the onlookers from the start to the end of a session was palpable.

Four weeks after setting the goal to walk a marathon, I returned home from rehab and continued working with physical therapists in an outpatient program. I had almost completed the first mile of my goal.

August 28, 2015 marked the day when I returned to the gym in the rehab hospital to cross the ceremonial finish line of my marathon. Elasped time: 66 days. I was cheered on by the physical therapists that had cheered for me at the start. They told me that tiles left behind from the occupational therapy classes are still on display in the community lounge.

Now I walk because I’m grateful to be able to walk, armed with a story that “Anything is possible – One stroke at a time” as I make my way into the earlier_than_ expected retirement phase of my life . The Zentangle Method and occasional teaching assignments will surely be a part of my plan.


Thank you to all who joined us on our revisit to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. It was such a grand trip, if you have not read this blog post, please don't miss it!

We chose three names (at random) as so many of you made such great comments on the subject of tangle hunting in museums and other wonderful thoughts.

Roseanne V. Sabol


Vikki Snider

Please send us your snail mail address so we can send you a gift from us.

Best from us both,


Monday, August 10, 2015

V&A Museum

Maria writes: 

Once again, Rick and I found ourselves wandering the great halls of a delight-filled museum, this time, the Victoria & Albert Museum in the Knightsbridge* section of London. 

We had just enjoyed an amazing few days just outside London, at the wedding celebration of the son of my dear friend, Andrea. This special friend and I have been "pen pals" for over 50 years. (50 years!!!)

My heartfelt thanks to Andrea for always writing back.

Ok, then. Back to The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Rick and I had been there before, but not for the "hunting and gathering of tangles" as we call it. We were there waiting when the doors opened in the morning. . . pretty much alone for about the first hour, wandering these amazing rooms filled to the brim with the most spectacular "stuff" imaginable.

Rick adds:
Even while waiting, we found tangle inspiring details such as in the sign frame and border in the above image, or, in this window treatment:

Maria continues:
We began by working together: he, manned with his camera fantastica and I, with my journal and Zentangle tools. We would slowly move from place to place, only to move back again, to retrieve a missed pattern one or the other of us would point out. It was exciting to capture the images in such an inspiring atmosphere. One could only create here.

My impressions of the V&A are so different now that I am vibrantly aware of patterns. I felt like I was walking through an entirely new museum! Each glance, each piece, offered a feast of potential and familiar tangles:

The spirits of artists, both famous and nameless, called to us to capture this one or that, guiding our hands as though they were their own.

We worked until we could not hold our hands up any longer, then ended up having tea and ( the most unbelievable) sultana scones with clotted cream and jam. If I close my eyes, I can still taste them, along with tea, so elegantly served in a proper pot, and proper crockery! Imagine, no plastic spoons or paper cups, or bags of sugar. "I'll have another lump of brown sugar, if you please!" And the café was totally decorated by my "old buddy" William Morris:

And always remember to look down . . . here's the floor of that "tea room":

For those of you who do not know William Morris, he was a most distinguished designer of patterns from the last half of the 19th century, truly one of my favorite artists.

So there we are, sipping tea, eating scones and taking in the images of a master tangler! Just how cool is that. . . . So, ok, I digress. . . . Rick guided me along as I was totally oblivious to which way was which, I could only see what was in front of me. I drew until I could not. When I could find a bench to sit, I did so only to get a better, steadier line from my pens.

Then off we were, once again. The Egyptian room, Middle Eastern room, Renaissance room . . . it did not seem to matter where we were; it was all spectacular.

Every artist in every culture seemed to draw in patterns. They were everywhere, there just for us to absorb and appreciate. Our angels were right there with us, pointing out things we certainly would have missed – a smidgen of background in an otherwise enormous tapestry, the engravings in suits of armor, fabric-covered furniture, inlaid wood and ivory, frames and mountings, swashes of tassels, tiles, and more tiles.

Then, of course, back to the William Morris room for more tea, just to make sure we didn't just imagine it the first time.

Here you see snippets of tangles, tangles of snippets . . . begging to be released to passionate tanglers worldwide, for them to use in their daily practice, drawing them into the world they wish to be in . . .

When I wasn't photographing potential tangles, I was photographing Maria tangling . . .

Here are some images of the many pages she filled in her current field notes book . . .

. . . and a larger tile she created, many tangles inspired by our trip to the lush V&A.


* Yes, that was our inspiration for the tangle name knightsbridge. On many streets in the Knightsbridge section of London, each townhouse entrance sports this dynamic pattern:


Dear Tanglers, be inspired . . . admire, learn, draw, then admire again. Realize you need only draw a tiny portion of an inspiration, the whole thing. Go deep . . . into a corner or a crease . . . find the core of the pattern . . . can it be tangled? Tangle, then repeat, one stroke at a time. Put it with other inspirations. Maybe at a later time, explore where else you will let it take you.

We will choose at random from the commentators, and send a little something sweet!

If you wish to be considered, please leave a way we can contact you.