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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ceremonial Tangling

Rick writes:

A couple months ago, we received a call from Micah Morgovsky, CZT. She is an active Certified Zentangle Teacher and Cantor at Temple Sinai in Stamford, Connecticut (USA).

Micah asked if Maria and I would consider tangling during their upcoming Rosh Hashanah service. She would project our tangling on a giant screen so the mesmerizing pen strokes would not only help focus attention during the service but would result in beautiful artwork to memorialize the occasion.

During the following weeks, the three of us discussed details and sorted out logistics.

The day before Rosh Hashanah, we arrived at Temple Sinai to set up our document camera and test everything. This beautiful, bright and open space had seating for about 750. Above the worship area, were two giant screens . . . each  ten by fourteen feet.

The left screen would show the Rabbi, Jay TelRav, Cantor Morgovsky and other participants throughout the service. The right screen would focus on the tiles as we tangled.

During the service, Maria and I tangled six triangular tiles symbolic of the six days of creation. Each tile measured about 4.75" (12 cm) on a side. We paced ourselves so that we began each tile at a certain moment in the service. We traded back and forth as we tangled each tile.

We decided to use mooka as a connecting theme, but in true Zentangle fashion, we did not plan the specifics of any tile until seconds before we began tangling that tile.

The service began with the right screen blank. Cantor Morgovsky began with these words:
It begins as a blank page.

B’reisheet bara eloheem, et ha shamayim, v’et ha’aretz… 
In the beginning, when God began to create heaven and earth, all was unformed and void… 

The universe begins unshaped, open to endless possibilities.

The creation of Torah begins, parchment untouched, open to endless possibilities.

We, too, enter this day with the promise of new beginning, open to endless possibilities.

A blank page.

A clean slate.

A giant white screen.

Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year. Today is the day God created the world. And today is the day we partner with God in creating ourselves anew. Above me, you may have noticed a large blank screen. This screen, like the parchment of a new Torah scroll, will mirror our own spirit of renewal. For today is a day, today is the day, of creation.

If you and I have had the opportunity to chat these last few years, you’ve probably heard me speak about Zentangle. Zentangle is a meditative art form which employs simple repetitive patterns to calm and focus the mind and, in turn, create unique and intricate artwork. We are so blessed and honored to have the founders and creators of Zentangle - Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas - with us here today.

Over the course of our worship this morning, Rick and Maria will be tangling, creating Zentangle art, on six triangular paper tiles - one for each day of creation - and you’ll be able to watch their breathtaking artwork unfold on the screen over our heads. When finished, the triangles will form the points of a magen david - a Jewish Star, the center of which is made from vellum, animal skin, much like the Torah itself, and has been tangled on and inscribed with gold-leaf and Hebrew calligraphy with the words K’hilah K’dosha - sacred community. The completed work is Rick and Maria’s gift to Temple Sinai and we plan to display it prominently within this sacred space.

We, the leadership of Temple Sinai, know that this is quite a different Rosh Hashanah experience than you might have been expecting today. And we also acknowledge that embracing change requires an open mind and sometimes even a measure of discomfort. But, as LeAnn Heller so aptly said in a recent board meeting, “If we are not uncomfortable, we cannot grow.”

To that end, we are confident that Temple Sinai, this K’hillah Kedoshah, is comprised of open-minded and creative souls who do not shy away from new experiences. So today, watch, listen, sing and pray, as we join God in bringing into this world something that has never been before. It begins as a blank page. We begin as a blank page, and together we will create something new. Please join me, as our work begins, with the blessing over Torah on page 112, a blessing of gratitude, for the gift of learning, and for the opportunity to engage our hearts and minds in the sacred work of renewal and creation.
After Micah completed her introduction, we began to tangle and continued throughout the service.

As the service was ending, I placed the six triangle tiles in their spaces on a mat that Maria had cut and tangled and put that into a frame so everyone could enjoy the result.

The center hexagon was created ahead of time on vellum (calf-skin) like a traditional Torah. Maria began the center hexagon by applying a background of multicolored gouache. The she lettered the Hebrew and gilded the large initial letter. The words translate to "Sacred Community." (Hebrew reads from right to left.) We both took turns tangling the background using Sakura® Micron 05 and 01 pens.

Maria used the same multicolored gouache on the triangles which were made from 100% cotton Rives® BFK print making paper.

The immediate enthusiastic feedback validated the value of Micah's idea. People kept saying how the gentle cadence of our tangling helped them stay focused throughout the three and a half hour service.

The finished piece measured 22 x 26 inches (56 x 66 cm). As beautiful as each individual tile was, no one expected how exquisite the completed piece would be. 

This use of the Zentangle Method as an integral component to support focus and attention during a ceremony or event and create a piece of art that anchors and memorializes the event opens up an exciting new area of exploration for the Zentangle community.

This was the first time Maria or I had attended Rosh Hashanah or had even been in a temple. The service was moving and powerful. We were honored to be part of it. We will always remember the warm welcome and new friends that we made.

We are grateful to Micah, Rabbi Jay TelRav, and the community at Temple Sinai for this opportunity.

Rick and Maria


How have you incorporated Zentangle art in an event or ceremony?

Do you have ideas about how you might do that?

We (and everyone) would love to learn from your experience and thoughts.

We will randomly choose someone who posts to send a thank you for contributing to this important topic.

Thank you!



Lady Dragoness, you were randomly selected from our previous blog. Please email your mailing address to julie (at) zentangle (dot) com.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tangling Outside the Box

Molly writes: 

 Some of you may have heard of the phrase, “thinking outside the box”. This metaphor speaks of a creative thought process that perhaps explores an unknown territory, looks at something from a new perspective, offers a unique approach and steps outside of the otherwise expected way. Encouraging this perspective on brainstorming and problem solving often leads to new and exciting exploration and discovery.

I was raised in an “outside the box” house. Every day, every meal, every holiday, every hairdo, even every prom dress was a new adventure. Sometimes I would ask to get back in the box. Not an option. Looking back I realize how lucky I was. I now know to not just look at things for what they are or what they have always been but rather what they could be. Life is full of change, growth and opportunity and aren’t we lucky to be able to take advantage of that.

To me the Zentangle Method is a beautiful collision of structure and chaos. While it nurtures specific steps and illuminates borders it also encourages us to take our practice into uncharted territories. It pushes us to not fear so called mistakes, but rather see them as seeds for new opportunities. It invites us to “color outside the lines,” and to be lead only by those strokes that we put down ourselves. It teaches us that our unique marks are not only beautiful, but also important because of their uniqueness. 

We often say to our Zentangle artists to learn the rules so that you can break them. I love the structure and beauty of the method as it written, and I find it so inspiring to explore and try things a little bit differently once in a while. In the world of Zentangle art we time and time again see tanglers taking that artistic license and going “outside the box”. We continue to learn and be inspired by the all the ways you are doing this. This type of thinking is different for everyone. It might be that tangling a little lower the string line is a big deal for you, or you might be someone who likes adventure like perhaps tangling underwater like mermaids do.

When the time is right take a leap in your practice. Jump at that opportunity. Allow yourself to look at something for what it could be.

Whether it was a so called mistake or flash of brilliance that led you there, it took that bit of confidence to take a chance to see what could happen when you not only "think outside the box" … but actually “tangle outside the box". 

Join us with your "outside the box adventure" … Tell us your story here and post your work on the Zentangle Mosaic App using #outsidethebox. You can also download the Zentangle Mosaic app for free and search #outstidethebox to see the Zentangle art from across the globe!

We welcome both literal and metaphorical interpretations here … we do like to have fun after all.
We will pick a commenter at random to send a box of Zentangle goodies to in our next blog!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tiny Tutorial...Take Two!

Rick writes:
In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

We invite you to enjoy this tiny tutorial from 2011...

                     Begin previous post . . .                  

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.