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!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Maria and I had a business question once and we called a friend for advice. Our friend is a member of SCORE, an organization of retired business executives who provide free business mentoring. He referred us to another SCORE member who, well, let's just say that he's had an illustrious career and you've all heard of or used one or more of his creations. This gentleman was kind enough to come to our home for lunch and spend a few hours with us.

We don't remember if we ever got our question answered because we don't remember what our question was! But what we do remember is getting a shift in perspective. After talking with him, we began to frame our choices within a larger perspective. For instance, we still remember his questions, "What do you want to be doing in ten years . . . in twenty years?" Those are important questions that are easily lost in moment to moment urgencies.

But the advice we remember most of all, and one that we refer to time and again, was from his story of visiting an office of the space agency of the then Soviet Union. He described a cyrillic quote above the entrance to the space agency that translated, "Don't let better tyrannize good enough." (At least that's how we remember his story.)

This morning at breakfast I was reading a blog and its author, quoting Voltaire, wrote "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

"Maria," I said, "That's where his quote must have come from!"

We got talking about how a concept of perfection blocks so many people from enjoying something because of fears they couldn't do it perfectly. And what if you did create a perfect something? What a devious curse that would be for everything that followed!

Maria joked, "If you didn't try to create art because you thought it wouldn't be perfect, well, get in line!"

Then I looked up Voltaire's original quote. He actually said, Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. "Better is the enemy of good." How many of us don't do something because we think someone else does it better, or we "should" do it better?

When we teach a Zentangle class, we always remind people to focus on what they are doing and not to compare it with others. We encourage each person to appreciate and enjoy putting pen to paper and to focus on each individual stroke without worrying about how the final result will appear.

With Zentangle, there's no need to allow "better" (or even worse, "perfection") to hold you back from the "good" of enjoying putting pen to paper . . . one stroke at a time.

We are ever so grateful that we have never seen a perfect Zentangle!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Dex & Verdigogh - #27

Laura Harms' weekly challenge (#27) is to create a Zentangle using two specific tangles: dex and vertigogh.

This is a great exercise because it may be asking you to do tangles that you might not normally do, and because it uses two tangles that you might not think to combine.

Here are Maria's two contributions:

Note on dex's inspiration
Our original inspiration for dex was this building in lower Manhattan.

You also see it frequently in parquet flooring. We took this picture yesterday during our walk around the Hotel Providence.

Please be sure to take some time to enjoy and appreciate the many wonderful contributions to this challenge.

Click images for larger views.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Visit to Hotel Providence

We visited Hotel Providence this morning to go over some details for our October CZT training there.

During breakfast there (it was awesome!) we created this Zentangle a la tango. We will be showing you this new tangle in our next newsletter in a few days, so be sure you're signed up to receive it!

After our meeting we took a walk around the hotel. What a wonderful feast of tangle inspirations!

Of course this hotel is full of patterns. Here are two outside images . . .

. . . and here's the hotel carpet!

We're looking forward to wonderful times there!

Click images for larger views.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More From Hong Kong

In our most recent newsletter, we showed a picture of Fina Man, CZT, and her first Zentangle class in Hong Kong. Recently, Fina sent us some more pictures and stories that we're thrilled to share with you.

Fina writes:
The first ever Zentangle workshop was held in Hong Kong in May 2011. There were two 2-hours sessions with more than 50 people who participated for this workshop.

Keith, my colleague and our first Zentangle artist in Hong Kong and in Asia, had helped me to design this "Tangling to Un-Tangle Program" from which the Zentangle forms the core of this program.

We want the participants to have an in-depth understanding of Zentangle, therefore, the story of Zentangle, Maria and Rick, the relevant theories, benefits, tangling were included as main framework for this workshop. It was an amazing event considering the limited 4 hours session overall, but everybody have enjoyed this wholesome experience.

Two years ago. Maria had asked me to come up with a Chinese name for Zentangle. As a result, Keith and I come up the name of "禪結". This is from the direct translation whereby 禪 means Zen, and 結 means knot. We create knots on our minds and in our lives. It is our own selves who created our tangles, so we are able to understand them and we can untangle them.

By the way, the Chinese character of 結 means knitting of fortune and good luck. Yes, every piece of Zentangle is a symbol of luck and fortune as Zentangle is actually the road to understanding our knots and ourselves within.

Here are some more pictures from Fina's class.

That's Fina sitting on the floor with her arm on the table, third from the left in the front row.

Fina attended our very first CZT seminar and came back to attend our first Zentangle Master Class. Fina is a wonderful person who has become a good friend.

Congratulations, Fina, and thank you for sharing those pictures with us. Also, our gratitude to you and Kieth for translating 禪結.

Click images for larger views.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Maria's been playing around and exploring. Here are three tiles for Friday.

Click images for larger views.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nice Article

Geneviève Crabe, CZT from St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, sent us this article about her series of Zentangle classes.

Read more at her blog entry here.

Congratulations, Geneviève!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two to Tango (#26)

Inspired by this twenty-sixth(!) challenge from Laura Harms, CZT, to use a spiral string, Maria created this,

and then together we created this,

Maria often tangles these weekly challenges while we sit at our kitchen table together. This morning, after filling in a large area with a Graphic 1 black pen, she passed her second tile to me and asked if I'd like to finish it. I proceeded to finish it with a white Gelly Roll pen and a white charcoal pencil.

Then a conversation started about what to call this. "Tangle Tango?" Maria asked. (It does take two!) And it is a sort of dance of two (or more) tanglers.

We're thinking this will be a fun Zentangle exercise to explore with two or more tanglers.

What do you think?

Click images for larger views.

Monday, June 13, 2011

That's so sweet!

Diane Lachance, CZT recently emailed us:
Dear Rick and Maria,

One of my students, Sue, is also a cake and cookie decorator. To make the last class of a six week Zentangle Studio a special occasion, I asked Sue if she would be willing to make up a dozen cookies designed with zentangle patterns. She jumped at the opportunity and the results were fabulous. See attached photo or blog post.

It was a fun night, and so many students had a great time in this studio that we have extended the studio for three more weeks!

Diane Lachance, CZT

Thanks, Diane.


Click image for larger view.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


In response to Weekly Challenge #25 - Zendala Magic from Laura Harms, CZT, Maria responded:
This is actually one of my first Zendalas (first of many). As I began to tangle Geneviève's string, all I could see was the potential for a compass rose design. I have already done quite a few of those, and I like their functionality.

Here's a compass rose we designed for Molly and Nick's wedding:

Molly and Nick stood on this 6-foot diameter canvas compass rose during their ceremony. Around it's edge Maria lettered, "One ship sails east - another, west. By the self-same winds that blow. But it isn't the gales, it's the set of the sails, that determines the way that we go."

We tangled it with versions of Shattuck, Static and Cadent using large Sakura Pigma pens.

If anyone asks Nick and Molly where they were married, they can point to this and say, "Right here!"
Click images for larger views.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Learning Center for the Deaf

Yesterday, Maria and I were invited to tour the Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts.

We have a long relationship with this school and were overdue for a visit. We learned about this school from our next door neighbor who works there. At our first two Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) seminars we had two deaf students in each seminar. The Learning Center also provided two ASL translators for both seminars. All are now CZTs!

Zentangle proved to be a great fit because it requires little or no spoken instructions to understand. Those of you who have our Zentangle Kit know this because our instructional DVD has no spoken instructions. You do not have to be able to understand English, and you do not have to be able to hear, to "get it."

We visited Jen Blasko's training center. We first met Jen when she came as an ASL translator. At first skeptical on this whole "Zentangle thing," she became a CZT and uses Zentangle as one of the Learning Centers valuable tools. Here we are with Jen in her office with a Zentangle newsletter on her SmartBoard. To the right is Judy B., our neighbor, and Judy V., the head of the Learning Center.

Jen showed us some of the Zentangles that students had created.

We also visited May-Lin Eu's classroom. May-lin is a teacher at the Learning Center. She is deaf and a CZT.

Here's one of her Zentangles:

We had brought along one of our new (as yet unannounced) products, a set of nine Zentangle Puzzle Coasters. Here are some of May-lin's class putting them together.

We are grateful to Judy B. for connecting us with this amazing school. We were fortunate to experience the enthusiasm and passion and excitement in everyone we met there - whether students, teachers, or staff.

Thank you all at the Learning Center for a day we will never forget.

Click images for larger views.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Newsletter June 5, 2011 - Before & After

In our June 5, 2011 Newsletter, we showed a partially completed Zentangle that Maria was working on.

Here's "before."

Here's "after."

A nice visual resonance with our recent harvest of garlic scapes!

There are some great stories in this newsletter. If you haven't read them yet, we encourage you to take a look.


Click images for larger views.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Louie Awards

A couple weeks ago, we received an email, "Maria, congratulations on your Louie Awards!"

Huh? Louie Awards? That was the first that we even knew that Maria's designs were up for consideration.

Every year the New York Stationery Show awards Louie Awards for best new designs. This year, there were 960 entries from 159 companies worldwide. Maria's designs for Crane & Co. won best of class in the Valentines Day category for cards over $3.50, and best of class in the Sympathy category for cards over $3.50. Her Sympathy card also came in third place for best design in the entire show.

Louie Awards are the stationery industry's Academy Awards. It's a pretty big deal. We weren't going to mention this, but today we received samples and congrats from Crane. Since the feather on her Sympathy card is done with a tangelation of Zentangle's tipple along with aura, I convinced Maria to share these with you.

What's really neat is that Maria's designs were entered for Louie consideration only once before. That was in 1996 when she won best of show with her invitations. And this year, when we've decided to reduce our stationery work to focus on Zentangle, her designs won three more Louie's!

Congratulations, babe!

Click images for larger views.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stripes - Challenge #24

Challenges from Laura Harms, CZT, continue to inspire. This week's challenge is about stripes.

Here are Maria's contributions and comments.

Simplicity in stripes . . . and then more stripes . . . and more fun!

I was experimenting with my favorite walnut ink (from Paper and Ink Arts) and I just couldn't stop! Life is good.


My sister Sue chose #3. She loved all your comments!

Click images for larger views.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Etch a Tangle?

We received this last night. Anyone who has used an Etch-A-Scetch® can appreciate what went into this.

CG writes:
Hi Rick & Maria,

This year for Mother's Day, my son surprised me with an Etch-A-Sketch. Two of them actually - one the classic red and the other a very girly pink. That had been one of my very favourite toys from my own childhood, providing MANY hours of joy. Years later, I enjoyed drawing with my children's Etch-A-Sketch, and eventually actually wore it out :(

I was tickled to receive this blast from my past, and couldn't wait to try joining an old favourite with a relatively new one, and wanted to share my first Etch-A-Tangle with you :)

Wow! Thank you for sending that, CG. Did you rotate your Etch-A-Sketch as you did that?

That tangle which CG "etched" is paradox and you can see instructions and some samples here, here and here.

We can hear it now, "Mom . . . Where's my Etch-A-Sketch?!"

Click image for larger view.