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!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Duotangle Challenge

Laura Harms brings us a "DuoTangle" Challenge this (forty-first!) week. Her challenge is to use only jonqal and opus tangles.

Here's Maria's . . .

Thanks, Laura!

Click image for larger view.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zentangle Display Boards, Part 2

Maria followed her own instructions from yesterday's blog entry and created this:

She spray painted an old discolored and chipped frame she picked up at a yard sale for a couple dollars. She used flux to tangle its inner border. Here's a close-up.

And here's a look at its back.

A is a small finish nail that holds the foam core in the frame. B is some of the double sided carpet tape showing. C are straight pins holding down the folded over fabric.

Someone asked in yesterday's blog how Maria did her hinges on those A-frames. Here's a closer look at an A-frame laid flat.

Each side of that gap is stitched to leave enough fabric between the foam core boards so when it's folded it looks like this.

Of course, if you can work at this size (these A-frames are about 20 x 30 inches) you can work a bit larger. Here's a quick phone camera snap of Maria at our kitchen table creating a "slightly" bigger version for our upcoming Certified Zentangle Teacher seminar.

Check out the floor. That was our inspiration for florz.

Click images for larger views.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Zentangle Display Boards

Maria writes:
Here's a fun project!

In preparing for our upcoming Certified Zentangle Teacher Seminar, I created some very cool display boards. We use these for students to display their Zentangle creations for all to enjoy.

Rick comments:
Here is an example of some of the A-frames table top displays that Maria made for seminar. They are half inch foam core covered in muslin. Each pair is fabric hinged at the top. The tie keeps them from flattening out spontaneously. Maria created a Zentangle border on each outer panel. But if you want it plain, you just undo that tie and flip them around so the tangled frame is inside and the plain fabric is outside.

Here's a face on view of the one above done in mooka.

Here's another one . . .

. . . and a close up shot.

For black, Maria used a Sakura® IDentiPen dual tip black marker. For shading, she used a Fabrico® dual tip light gray marker.

Maria continues:
Then I thought, WOW, we could all use a couple of these in our home, office or classroom to display a great collection or one very special Zentangle.

Step 1
Go shopping for a big frame (or a really neat small one!). I have a lot of luck at yard sales or antique shops. You do not need a glass or backing,  just a frame, and it could be in so-so shape, as long as it is not falling apart. You might even find one in your attic or cellar with an old print in it that has seen its day. It can be scratched or dinged . . . you are going to transform it into a work of art!

Try for something at least 6 inches or larger. I prefer the 18 x 24 size,  you can put a bunch of tiles on that!

I love the real ornate Victorian frames, (who'd have guessed that one?), with the 4 or 5 inch wide frames . . . mmmmm.

Step 2
Spray paint! Choose black, grey or even gold! depending on your decor.

If the frame is already in good shape, you can disregard this step.

Brush off the dust and go outside and give it a couple of coats.

You might decide to do a couple of these at once . . . just as easy to do two!

Step 3
You will need either 1/2" or 2 sheets of 3/16" thick  Foam Board, cut to 1/4 " smaller than the opening of the frame. For example, an 8 x 10" frame needs 7 3/4 x 9 3/4" foam.

You can get this at art supply or frame shops. They may even have scraps or be willing to cut it for you.

Step 4
You will need some light colored (I suggest white or ecru) fabric. You can use canvas, linen. or even an old pillow case or sheet that has seen better days. In some place (many actually) I'll use patterned fabric like ones in our office (pix below).

Cut your piece of fabric to have a 2" border larger than your frame opening. (example: frame opening 8 x 10, cut fabric 12 x 14"). Iron fabric to get rid of all creases.

You can use either strong double face tape, adhesive transfer tape, carpet tape or common pins to secure the fabric to the foam board.

See diagram to cut excess fabric from the corners to alleviate some of the bulk when folding over the fabric.

Step 5
1. Put tape on all 4 sides about 1 inch from the edge.

2. Fold one side of fabric onto the tape on the back of the foam.

3. Fold opposite side, stretching the fabric taut as you can, eliminating any folds or creases.

4. Repeat on remaining sides.

5. You can pull fabric away from tape and readjust if necessary to stretch as needed.

6. Neaten up the corners with common pins or stitch them to secure.

Step 6
On the front of your board, draw a light pencil border about 1 inch from the edges. It can be 1/2 inch to 1 inch depending on the size of the frame.

You can use a ruler to mark equal distances from the edges, and remember the pencil lines will disappear.....under the tangles.

You can use a Micron 01, 02, 05, 08 or Graphic 1, depending on the weave of your fabric (the coarser the weave, the fatter the pen)

Test a few tangles on a scrap before doing the board.

Step 7
Now have fun filling in the border lines with tangles.

I sometimes use just one tangle all around, then add an "aura" or "perfs" all around that tangle.

When using more than one tangle, try doing a bit of that tangle then skip 2 inches and do it all around the border. Then choose another tangle and do it right next to the first, then repeat that one all around until you have pretty much completed it, then you can fill in open spots with aura, or perfs or blackening in the background. See some of my examples for guidance, but I know you'll come up with more ideas than I did!

I also used a "Fabrico" dual tip fabric marker to shade the edges and add character.

Step 8
Put the covered foam board into the frame, and secure with a few small nails.

Put a wire hanger on the back if there isn't already one there. I use "Blue Tack" (actually I like the white stuff better) on the bottom corners of the frame to secure it on the wall so it doesn't tilt.

Secure your favourite Zentangles to the beautiful new display board with common pins, making SURE you do not put holes in the tiles!!! Slip the pins in at an angle so they just rest on the pins.

Rick adds:
Here are a couple pix from around our office. This one is painted to match the wall, but the fabric sings.

This one houses some mounted Zentomology™ specimens!

Have fun!

Click images for larger view.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Laura Harms' Challenge #40 is Pinwheels for Peace.

Maria "cheated" just a tiny bit!

She found a site for directions to make a pinwheel

Then she created two copies of our 102 tangles . . .

. . . on translucent vellum and hotpress glued them together, back to back.

After a quick walk down to our local hardware store, and a some drill and scissors time, voila!

Click images for larger view.

Oh yes, if you make copies of artwork, make sure it's something you created or that you have permission to reproduce.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tiny Tutorial

Maria and I were talking about what to do for a blog yesterday. She started writing some notes for a tiny tutorial.

When you concentrate on every stroke of your pen, not worrying about what your tile will look like, and not hurrying through a tile because you have something else on your mind, you can focus on the different types of lines your pen can make. As you pay attention to these different lines, you may realize you have more "control" than you thought.

. . . let's explore what we can discover through control of our pens. I'm talking about good control, not obsessive control

Did you know that Rick and I spent countless hours trying out different pens on all types of wonderful papers? We unanimously agreed on the Sakura® Pigma® Micron 01 pen and Fabriano's Tiepolo paper. We love the subtle things you can do with this combination of pen and paper.

As an exercise, experiment with different pressures:

#1 - just tickle the tile
#2 - average pressure
#3 - pressing firmly (but not so heavy as to damage your pen)

Getting the look you want often involves slooooooowing down. Try making your strokes very slowly and see if it makes a difference in your deliberate lines . . .

Check out what bubbles look like the next time you are doing dishes or washing your hands . . . how beautiful!

Using this same deliberate approach . . .

. . . as compared with:

In this exercise with purk (one of my favorite tangles) by making your lines a bit lighter and your orbs a bit darker and slightly larger than what fits between your lines, it gives an illusion that this tangle is almost alive and moving. These orbs are busting out, creating perspective, contrast, depth and interest.

This tiny tutorial is not meant to get you to do something in some sort of so-called "correct" manner. It is also not meant to imply that there is a preferred outcome for your Zentangle creations. Our intention is to expand your range of choices and options. Sometimes, in looking for another pen or another color or another tangle, we overlook unexplored options that we already have. In this tiny tutorial, we're exploring the options of speed (of stroke) and pressure (of stroke) . . . an opportunity for a new focus, seeing things with new eyes.

Next time you open your Zentangle Kit and begin to tangle, you may discover more tools and options than you thought were in your kit (or in yourself)!

Click images for larger view.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Inspired by her memories from ten years ago, Laura Harms' Weekly Challenge #39 is Love is All You Need.

Maria writes:
There is always that glimmer of LOVE when you are looking for it . . . be it family or friend, community or country.

Click image for more love.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bees, Neighbors, Zentangle and Martha Stewart

On her way to work, our next door neighbor, Judi B., called Martha Stewart's radio show. Martha keeps bees and they were talking about protecting beehives in hurricanes. Our neighbor told Martha about how we had tied down our hives before Hurricane Irene.

That segued into a description of our honey with its label of Zentangle tangles around a bee that Maria painted and her lettering of "Honey from Ricky's Girls."

While they chatted on air, Martha went to zentangle.com, poked around and had some nice comments. 

If you are just joining us, you may not know the inspiration that the bees contribute to Zentangle.

Our beeline tangle is based on the pattern you see when looking through a honeycomb.

Instructions for beeline are in this newsletter.

Bees regularly swarm. Beekeepers like to catch swarms and start a new hive. Here's a picture of Nick (Molly's husband) when he and I were fortunate to capture one. We brushed it from a tree into a picnic cooler and here you see them flowing into their new home. There were probably 30,000 to 40,000 bees in this swarm.

Around that time we came up with a new tangle and we named it swarm as it often creates a hexagonal form. You can learn that tangle in this newsletter.

Bees, neighbors and Zentangle . . . Sweet!

Click images for larger views.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Paradox Challenge

Laura Harms' Challenge #38 is all about paradox or as she playfully calls it, "Better than a Pair of Ducks."

I had to come out to play for this challenge! After all, this tangle is also called Rick's paradox. When I came up with this tangle, as far as I can remember, I hadn't seen it elsewhere. Since then we've learned that it is a quilting technique from at least as early as the 1950s.

We named this tangle "paradox" because by only using straight lines, you automatically create spiraling curves.

After I admired the many Zentangle paradox creations posted on Laura's blog, I considered different strings for my tile. Then I noticed the background design on her site . . .

. . .  and chose that for my string or more precisely my paradox structure, since I created it in pen. I had already explored creating a two sided paradox. This would be a great opportunity to play with that form.

This was interestingly different because it uses mostly curved lines. The lines in the two-sided shape had to remain curved. However, in the four-sided shape I eased into straight lines after about four cycles.

I also broke one of my own "rules" and used a mechanical aid for my original circles. Everything after that was free hand. In this partially completed view you can see some of those initial lines.

I left a couple shapes undone to add interest and to show what shapes were used. I used a Sakura® Pigma® Micron 005 black pen throughout.

This experiment resulted in a beautiful tesselation. Notice how that single calla lily shape repeats itself and fits with itself to cover the surface.

Thanks for this challenge, Laura. I wonder if there is a "Pair of Ducks" swimming around this pair o' . . .


Click images for larger view.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bales of Fun

As is usually the case, Laura Harms, CZT, has challenged and rewarded us with yet another way to approach our daily Zentangle tile. The concept of one "all-over grid" was exciting and offered an opportunity for many inter-cross-tangelation possibilities.

I decided to use only bales as a tangle and see what happened.


- Maria

Click image for larger view.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Through a New Lens

We love reading what other people write about Zentangle, particularly when someone encounters it for the first time.

Thanks to Catherine Rogers, CZT, in Shirley, Massachusetts, we just learned about Judith Ferrera's Zentangle inspired creations and got to read about her experience with the Zentangle process. We are happy to share them with you and trust you will enjoy them as much as we did.

Judith has an exhibition opening this month (tomorrow!) which she describes in this blog entry,
This exhibition is dedicated to Catherine Rogers. In May 2009, she conducted a Zentangles workshop in Fitchburg. That day, we learned an exercise in mindful drawing using ink and pencil to create repetitious patterns inside small areas. It was an afternoon that had a profound effect on my art making.
Her gallery show is in Gardner, Massachusetts, September 2 - 29, details are at the above link.

Here are a few excerpts from Judith's July 2010 blog (with emphasis added):
I cannot sit still long enough to doodle. I would rather pace. Zentangles were exactly what I needed to learn, because it is an exercise in mindful drawing. [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] It seemed like the perfect combination of freedom and discipline.

I am hooked on Zentangles in ways that I could have never imagined. Yes, I have brought out my kit while waiting for an appointment. Little children are curious. A little girl said to her mother, "I want to do what she's doing." Yes, I have taught others how to do them. But I also bring out the kit at home when I am really frazzled and losing my balance. Zentangles calm me down. It's good for my blood pressure.

Zentangles have improved my "looking," which is the skill artists need to work on constantly. Now, when I drive along, I notice architectural details such as shingles, railings and fences that escaped me before. I never appreciated how much gorgeous, poetic repetition there is to see in one city block, especially in the older sections. The craftsmen left their work for a whole new audience: Zentangle fanatics!

I used to think that drawing was a little too tied to reality. Not that there is anything wrong with that. However, I enjoyed it when I could riff on a mood and improvise, rather than record what was in front of me. Having serious fun is one of my art making standards and creating Zentangles earns high points.

[ . . . ]

You can read more of Judith's comments and see one of her creations at this blog entry.

Maria and I look forward to driving up to Gardner to see Judith's exhibit.