Friday, December 31, 2010

Anyone up for a Zentangle Retreat?

Because art is so much fun to do with other people, it seems to me that a Zentangle Re-treat would be something fun to try and work out.
   As I poked around with the idea, little signs along the way led to Oakwood Retreat Center in Selma Indiana. This sweet and earthy little farm is out in the country, and they love to host  groups that in some way nourish the spirit. I'd say Zentangle does just that, so we've planned a long weekend retreat for March 17 through March 20. It begins on the evening of St. Patty's Day (Thursday) and ends on the first day of Spring (Sunday). And we'll throw a full moon in, too.
   We're calling it Zentangle® FloatFest: A Re-Treat for Zentangle Lovers. The idea is to provide a time and space for people who love Zentangle to connect with others, get away, learn something new, relax, do nothing, do everything, do a little, do a lot. We want to provide a space where each person can 'float' with their own Zentangle experience. There will be structure for those who like that, but there will also be the freedom to pick and choose what each person feels is right for each moment.
   We are still forming classes and activities, and as we have information to share, we will share it here. If you would like more information or have specific questions, send me an email at (Subject line: FloatFest)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eye Candy in Motion!

This video appeared on my Facebook feed this morning from artist Amy Kollar Anderson. Amy is a Dayton Ohio artist who works in acrylics. Her work is full of wonderful patterns (and other things!). I thought you all would like to see this time lapse creation. It's fun to peek into another person's process. Thanks Amy, for showing us yours!
   Make sure you click the link to see more of Amy's wonderful work!

Monday, December 27, 2010

String X Two

This week's challenge from the diva herself, Laura Harms: A Zentangle tile that begins with a double string (made with two pencils side by side). Fellow CZT, Margaret Bremner mentioned this on her blog and has already created some stunning tiles using the double pencil string. This is my first try with it, and I'm sure it's not my last, as it is LOTS of fun! Can't wait to do more. Thanks Laura and Margaret, for the inspiration! Looking forward to next week's challenge!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Open the doors, Nancy!"

We had planned to get to the grocery early today. All bundled and ready to go, I sat on the couch waiting for Daved to finish folding the clothes (the angel that he is). It was just before 8am, he was watching TCM, and the movie, "Pollyanna" was about to start. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, so I played with the thought of staying put to watch it. Grocery... old movie... grocery....ok...old movie it is! So off came the scarf and coat, and we settled into the snow-flurried morning with Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman.
   I was surprised at how much I was enjoying the movie, as I'm not one to watch most movies more than once. At one point, I noticed some sniffling sounds coming from the other couch. Ok, good, so I wasn't the only one.
   "Pollyanna" is a story about optimism, but for me, it was more of a story about inspiration and how it moves between people. At one point in the movie, Jane Wyman, who plays the intimidating auntie, must make a choice between (what I saw as) control and allowance, love and fear. Would she allow the inspiration all around her to move through her or would she cling to her illusion of control?
   "Open the doors, Nancy," she said.
    What a wonderful little sentence! I'm so "glad" that I allowed myself to set aside the grocery plan and stay and watch this movie. I think that "Open the doors, Nancy" might be my mantra for the coming year. New Year's resolutions don't do much for me, but I will adopt a good mantra once in a while:)
   We did go to the store, the plan being to make a big bunch of veggie lasagna. We had more veggies than could probably fit into our pans, and I always feel confused when I try to remember which layers go in what order. I'm reading the box, and fearful that all the ingredients that lay before me will never fit in to those pans. If I had been on my own, I would have done the safe thing, but there was Daved egging me on to put more stuff in there. I tried to argue about the mess it would make, and what it might waste, and we would have to open another bag of cheese..blah blah...and he could have easily let me win the argument. But somewhere there was Aunt Polly whispering, "Open the doors, Nancy." I heard her. I gave into D's playful badgering, stepped aside and let him at it.
   As I sat with Aunt Polly's words, I watched as he put more and more into those pans, put them in the oven, cleaned up the kitchen and left me to write this entry. It doesn't matter now if the pans overflow, if they even taste good, whatever. It was fun just to open the doors and allow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A friendly star

My friend and fellow CZT, Peg Farmer, made this Zentangle Christmas star. Before this little beauty found her home on my tree, her 'formal' portrait called for some pink (the color of love). She looks very pretty in pink, I think. Thanks, Peg!

Merry Christmas, everyone. 
Whatever brightness comes our way this season, maybe we can carry it with us for a while, and then pass it on to someone else:)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tangle a Day Calendar...Soon!

Well, it all came together, so there will definitely be a desk calendar ready for 2011! The printer says it will be ready on December 30 so I say, Yippee! I'm excited about this calendar because it's one that YOU get to design. The months are laid out in light grey (like strings) and the type is outlined so you can tangle inside or out... you can make notes, you can practice tangles, you can make a whole month into a piece of art! 

The calendar is 12 x 18" and is padded at the top. Each month has its own page. A sample page gives you ideas on how you might want to use your calendar. The paper is a smooth white cover stock. If you like a smooth feel with your pen, you will like it. I like using the .005 on this stock, but you can fool around and see what you like best. Shading works best with a regular pencil and a blending stump.

If you'd like to order a calendar, visit the Openseed Etsy site (you can click the pink box in the column on the right, too). The calendar will be ready December 30.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I can tell.

I can see by this tile that I've played a little too much Zuma Blitz (an online video game)! I'm really starting to notice how my environment plays into my Zentangle tiles. It wasn't like I said to myself, "Wow, there are cool patterns in the Zuma game." (Although that has happened often.) It was more like, after I saw the tile, I said, "Wow, I have lotsa Zuma on the brain!" Either way, it's all fun. It does make me wonder what insights may come to me if I looked back on my piles of tiles. Hmm... dating them is a good idea... sort of like a Zentangle diary!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Fellow CZT Laura Harms from Saskatoon is offering up (or throwing down) a weekly Zentangle challenge to anyone who has the notion to participate. I love a good throwdown (in a more partying context, not a fighting one!), especially one with a theme. The theme for this first week is "simplicity."

   Inspired by Laura's tile, I sat with some simplicity for a while, but it took me a minute to really be able to GET simple. My first tile went like this... starting simple enough, but then it kept talking to me and making me do other things to make it not so simple. Oh well, I was listening so that's what I did.

I sat some more with simplicity, and I could feel it wasn't ready to come forward just yet. I started two more tiles and I could feel they were going to get all tangled up and hook me into another spiral of detail (which would be really fun, but...). I laid them aside for another day, and started anew. I felt that for me, this little exercise was about getting to a place where detail and thought give way to deliberate rhythm and repetition.
   Finally... "Ahh", with an added bunch of rays and a spiral middle. Just what Dr. Laura ordered! Thanks, Laura. That was fun!

Monday, December 20, 2010


At the Zentangle Certification Seminar, we were all gifted with a piece of Dove candy. Inside each wrapper is a little sentence. Ever since then, I keep a bag of them on hand to treat myself once in a while. Yesterday this was my yummy little gift:
"Satisfy your sense of surprise."
I try to do what candy wrappers (and fortune cookies) tell me, so I did a Zentangle tile. One of the things I love most about the art of Zentangle is the elements of wonder and surprise. Not having a plan or expectation leads to surprise. Sometimes a it comes from the tangle itself (such as Afterglo, pictured below), but always there is that possibility at the end of each tile.

MMMM. Chocolate and a Zentangle surprise. Now that's some fun.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

They talked! (and I listened)

Cathy Helmers made two more Featherheads for the Openseed Etsy shop. These hand-drawn Zentangle inspired babies had gone everywhere together so far, hanging out at Cath's house, then coming to my house and hanging around on my easel, chitchatting about who knows what, but staying safe away from my three kitties (oooh, yum, feathers!).

When it came time for their portraits, I took Flora's first, although she didn't seem too happy. I couldn't figure out why her little spirit just wasn't coming through for the camera. But oh well, keep moving. I took Fiona's portrait, and the same thing happened. Pretty soon I realized they belonged with one another. Once I put them back together, they shined the way they always had. (I swear I could hear them say "Thank you, honey!" ) So I called Cathy and asked her if they could be listed as a set, since it was sort of like finding two little kitties at the shelter and taking them both, since you couldn't bear to break them up. (done that)
   So the happy twosome are now listed on Etsy, and happily wait for their new home! If you are in the Dayton area and want to see other members of the Featherhead family in person, visit Gallery 510 in the Oregon District.

Always listen to artwork, whether it be your own or someone else's.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Hurry hurry!
    I woke up yesterday with a clear vision of a different kind of Zentangle inspired calendar (other than the one I just printed). For almost a year it percolated, and I just never saw it graphically work out in my mind. Until yesterday.
    I say hurry hurry because I know I have the resources to kick this out before THIS year ends, or at least have it ready as the new year happens. I don't know if I'd be patient enough to wait till next year, either. But even with all that information, it's my intuition that tells me to move forward with it. Now whether it ends up getting done or not, we shall see.
    Because today is December 17, I don't have much time, and my tendency to hurry through the process will most likely end with something about the project that I may regret. You know, how if you blow dry your hair waytoofastinahurry, it usually doesn't do what you like it to do. Or you make some food really fast and it burns. Or if you swipe your credit card too fast you just have to do it again because it didn't take? 
   Not only does a conditional outcome of haste ("haste makes waste") often leave us unsatisfied, there is a whole aspect of the PROCESS that we miss. If I blow dry my hair in a deliberate way, paying attention to each movement, I will probably like the conditional outcome better, but more than that, I might enjoy the actual process of it... of just being in a moment. If I pay attention to what I'm cooking... taking time to do each step with an awareness, hmm... might taste better, but the actual cooking of the food would be more fun as well. Now the credit card, I always want to get that over with:) But really, every moment holds an opportunity to be real and wonderful in and of itself.
   Take your time and be with the moments. The process of Zentangle is a perfect exercise for slowing down. Because there is no planned ending, it's especially easy to let the moments be what they are. Each deliberate line, each slowly made mark, a moment. Each moment its own little world. Relish each one. Wherever that process takes you, well, it just takes you, and there you are.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Even though I barely "do" Christmas, I like the symbols and words of the season. They are imprinted on me from my history as a child of parochial schools, and a culture that just can't help itself at this time of year. Once I decided to stop the madness for myself (overdoing the hoorah at every turn), I settled into the parts of the season that I feel connected to. There are few "shoulds" anymore for me, so I enjoy those parts that speak to me, and let the other parts fall away. 
   This year I'm having lots of fun with my favorite words combined with my favorite art form (Zentangle, if you hadn't noticed). I have no idea how many of these will happen. They seem to just present themselves as the days go by, and the snow falls, the soup stews, and the tea brews.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The Openseed Etsy store now offers two members of the Featherhead family: Benny and Francis. You may be familiar with their bro, Zenry, who posed for the Zentangle blog. Other members of the Featherhead family are available at Gallery 510 if you're in the Dayton Ohio area. They are fully posable and love to hang from stuff!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Verdigogh

A little color on "Verdigogh" for the holiday... I've turned this one into a holiday card available on Etsy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nature's Way

A friend of mine (yes, a lovely Zentangle freak) sent me this cartoon by Mark Tatulli. We thought it illustrated an essential aspect of the Zentangle art form: organic pattern. I wrote to Mark, and he gave me permission to post it here. Thanks, Mark, for letting us share it, and thanks for creating a very cool cartoon!
   Nature is boundless with patterns, and aren't we lucky for that?
   We also thought it a "hmmm" that Mark's initials (see his signature far right) are kinda familiar:)

© 2010 Mark Tatulli/Distr. by Universal Uclick

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I've finally finished my Zentangle@ Inspired Calendar for 2011! It's kind of cute... only 7" x 10", with coil binding. I love that it's black and white with a touch of red. If you'd like one of your own, or as a gift for your tangle-lovin' friends, visit my Etsy site. If you need more than one, send me an email and we will fix you right up. If you live in the Dayton area, the calendars are also available at Gallery 510 in the Oregon District.

You will also find a little Walt Whitman and Joni Mitchell fun in the Etsy shop...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Dayton Ohio's first snow has arrived. So I celebrate it with my favorite pastime. With a little bit of Zentangle's Ahh, and Sandy Bartholomew's Gust, this is how the day feels to me...

Monday, November 29, 2010


This pattern appeared in one of my tiles about a year ago. At the time, I didn't know anything about what made a good tangle, meaning, could it be repeated easily by someone other than the brain that did it first? If a person has been seeing themselves as an artist all their life, certain patterns may be easy for them (the 'artist') to "draw." I think that's what happened to this one. Drawing a feather just came easy one day, and it ended up in a piece of Zentangle art. 
   One day after an Intro to Zentangle class at the gallery, I was showing the class the large piece of art (22x30) that contained this pattern (along with countless other tangles). A couple of the students wanted me to teach them "that feather thing." I thought it would be easy, since it came so easy the day I did it. Not. I hadn't deconstructed the steps that would make it easy for anyone else to do it. It would require them to draw a feather, rather than using deconstructed steps to make it 'not drawing' what would end up featherlike.
   Learning how to deconstruct a pattern so it is easily taught or repeated, was ONE of the best things I learned at the Zentangle certification seminar. This was one of the reasons that Zentangle is for anyone. That deconstruction is what helps people enjoy the process of this meditative art form, without the worries of "how to draw."

Steps to what my poetic husband has named, Featherfall.

Here is Featherfall, Umble and Pais.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Investment Lament

There have been times when I think I am 'floating' with a piece of art and after spending a decent amount of time on it, I realize that I don't like what I am looking at. Somewhere in there, I had built an expectation of what I wanted it to look like, and it's not happening. There is then a part of me that wants to make it right-- the part that is invested in the time and the expectation. I want a payoff on my investment! 
   There is another part of me that knows that the investment in time and expectation is just a game in my head. I have successfully built a story about my conditional preferences. And when the story doesn't add up to my expected result, I now have a reason to lament the outcome or try to control the hell out of it.
    This little dance is a game of separation. Instead of being with the process in an unconditional way-- not caring about the outcome, and allowing what is, I have separated myself from that process and made it into a control-based event. I find myself wanting to control the outcome, based on my invested time and expectation. So it becomes me and my big story that is intent on controlling this little piece of art.
   Unconditional allowance= me being the art
   Conditional control= me vs. the art

How many moments in the day are spent this way, taking action based on our investment and expectation, (which we made up to begin with)? Then we get all entitled about getting a payoff for the investment and expectation. Then we set out to control it so we can get the payoff all squared away so we can feel better. A little like tail-chasing:) Why not just be with all of our moments in an allowed way, allowing and accepting what is, and taking action where our intuition tells us to go, instead of clinging to our IDEA of what we are entitled to.
    We sometimes spend so much time protecting our investment, that we can forget the essence of why we spent so much time on something to begin with: our true inner connection with it. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Penuche Cheer

In Zentangle®, we are happy to have the Bronx Cheer to help redefine a tangle-gone-haywire. 
    I have discovered a baking version of that: Penuche frosting. I've long been an admirer (ok, maybe 'freak' is a better word) of this frosting with its buttery sweet goodness. I have a homemade chocolate cake recipe that is pairs perfectly with, and for the longest time, that's the only time I made it.
    In the past month I've had a few baking experiments go a little south on me. One was a pumpkin bar recipe that came out more like pumpkin cake... a big UNDONE cake. I had to cut out pieces of the cooked part of the cake and do something to save them, as they were on their way to a pumpkin party. Ahh... penuche frosting! I made little petit four kind of bites that were covered in penuche. "WHAT are THESE?" they all asked (in a good way) at the pumpkin party. 
    Yesterday I experimented with some oatmeal cookies, using my favorite trail mix in them instead of just raisins. Not so great. Dry, tasteless (I may have also forgotten to add vanilla). Ahh... penuche frosting! "Wow," they said as their eyes widened with each bite.
    Once again, it's easy for me to see how Zentangle has pushed the 'what ifs' over into other areas of what I do with everyday things. So there is the Bronx Cheer and then there is Penuche... like a bit of fairy dust that makes it all a bit better:)
    Here is a recipe if you need some penuche magic of your own:

Penuche Frosting
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
about 2 cups confectioners' sugar
hot water, optional
   Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and still stirring, continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add milk and stir until a rolling boil. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Gradually add confectioners' sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little hot water. Frosts a 13x9-inch cake. 
(or a little baked goodie that needs some fixin')

Friday, November 26, 2010

Signs of the Season

The season has officially begun and I'm getting ready for next weekend's Zentangle class: Handmade Holiday Card Workshop at Gallery 510. We'll be learning and using specific tangles to create holiday greeting cards. The class includes materials and, of course, holiday eats: namely, THE best variety of holiday cookies from the We Care Arts Cookie Walk (which takes place that morning... you could even go get some for yourself!). It should be a tasty and relaxing afternoon! One could also do some holiday shopping while at the Gallery -- it's filled to the brim with awesome handmade items especially for this gift-giving season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Here are the steps for Bitten (from yesterday's post). Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something to Chew On

This coming holiday is full of good eats, so the name of this tangle, Bitten, comes just in time. The name for it, however, was really about the traditional houndstooth pattern found in woven textiles. I've often thought it would be a hard pattern to deconstruct, but when I squinted at a houndstooth scarf the other day in a store, it all made sense. And, my trusty sounding board was by my side (my husband), helping me talk it through. There may be a tangle like this floating around out there, but I haven't found it yet. Below are examples in actual tiles, and tomorrow I will post the instructions once they are finished.
   So if you are planning some tangle time over the holiday, maybe this one will find its way into your stash.

This last tile includes one of my current favorite tangles, Warped Eggs, by Livia Chua. Thanks for the fun Livia!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aren't you done yet?

Yesterday's blog comments about the worn out Micron pens had me digging around my tile piles for a re-visit of some of the more 'scrumbly' looking ones. In fact, I even found one with Jane Monk's tangle, Scrumble, in it!

The tiles that are done with the worn Microns have a sketchy quality. I notice that when I am working with the sketchier pen lines, the process feels more to me like drawing. It feels like less of a deliberate line, and more of an expressive kind of stroke.  Both are fun, but the deliberate line of an intentful Zentangle is usually a more relaxing process for me.

This one uses Shelly Beauch's Wist. When my sister saw this one, she laughed and said, "Geez, Carole, get up off that couch and get a new pen!" That is the real story right there :) It's true that I can be frugal with a Micron, but I also love my couch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Little Pleasures

I have so many Micron 01 pens that have been "opened." I don't know where they all came from, and they seem to have multiplied, even though I could swear I haven't opened a new one in I can't remember how long. Tile after tile, I keep using them, and figure three quarters of what are in my pen box are probably still in good shape, so why open a new one?
   Well, I think I misjudged those numbers, because lately, every one I've picked up has been a little on the scratchy side. It was getting tiresome trying to find a half-way decent one and this frugal mindset might have to turn a corner. They have been so well used (and loved!) that it's time for some to retire (Thank you for your service, dear pens!). As I reached for a fresh box of pens and took a new one out, it felt a bit like Christmas morning. Yay! I get to use a new pen. Life's little pleasures...
    As I continued on a Zentangle tile that I had started with a very old pen, I was so happy when the ink flowed with barely a touch to the paper. It felt so nice, this  'going with the flow', that I made gobs of little bubbles all around the edges, happily coloring in the background. Once again, reminding myself that it is about how it feels.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Not How it Looks...

It has often occurred to me that I might have bad hair karma. I have to wonder if I was Sweeney Todd in a past life.  I have so many 'hair-gone-wrong' stories that someone once said I should write a little book. 
    This past week I mustered up my mettle and tried a new hair stylist (again!).  The results? Well, it's a great cut by a master designer (my pocketbook really bit the bullet), but it's very short. Usually when someone goes this far, I don't like it. But this time, I was reminded of a what my husband said to me after one of my other really-really-really short ones, "It's not how it looks, it's how it feels." When he said that, I realized that the shorter hair did feel more free (my hair is ultra thick).
   I was fully aware as I was getting this week's cut, that all through the process, I could feel that this designer was intentfully doing what he felt was best. He took his time, made sure I knew what he was going to do. He was really connected to his process and to my hair at the same time. That in itself was a really fun experience. I knew he was cutting lots off, but I was so enjoying watching him work with his whole heart, that what it felt like was more meaningful than what it looked like. Now, of course, everyone will say they like my hair, and I don't know if they are just being nice, but really, I don't care. And that is just because of what the whole experience felt like.

It's How it Feels.
When it comes to the process of creating anything, how it feels while we are creating it is the meaningful part. What the end product looks like, well, who really cares in the long run? It's hard to let that part go to nothing. But the more we practice letting the product go, the more connected to the process we can become. And the more connected to the process we become, the more we can appreciate what the process FEELS like. 
   In college, our drawing teacher asked us to spend a couple hours rendering a still life. At the end of the two hours she asked us to crumple our papers and throw them away. It was brutal at the time, but our most meaningful lesson. Her point was, of course: it IS the process. It IS how it feels, rather that what it looks like, that is the essence of the exercise.
     So today I will tangle like I care about each and every line, but I will tangle like I don't care what the line looks like.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fire and Ice

A little while back I named a tangle Lava Juice. It reminded me of the goop inside the lava lamps we had in the wayback times. I hadn't played with it much since then, but the other day I was in the mood to do a tangle that I could 'color in.' I made a string and then did Lava Juice in each segment. Much to my surprise, it looked a lot like melting snow on a tree branch. This came right at the same time that fellow CZT Sue Clark blogged about her first snow in Loveland Colorado, and how cozy her day would be. I love those days, and this tile reminded me of the feeling of snow. And since in Ohio, you really never know about when that will happen, I will sit with my little Zentangle tile and dream of peaceful and cozy days to come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Cathy Helmers has been busy designing more Zentangle inspired fabric. So beautiful that I just had to share. This design, called Mystery 1,  is available for purchase at  Check out her other designs there as well!

Here is another, called Spiral Filigree...
Can't wait to see what she comes up with next... I just love posting pretty colors!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Last Word: FLOO

Now that the flu is on its way to being over, (it was the most fun flu, thanks to my tangling moments!) I remembered there is an original Zentangle pattern called FLOO. (It's the border of this tile.) So of course, I just had to say goodbye to my flu with this Floo...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MORE Flu Fun

I've heard it said, "Tangle something, you'll feel better." It's very true. I'm guessing the reason that works is because the pressure of a projected outcome is not there. If there is no planned outcome, there can be no mistakes. There is something very comforting about that!
   So yesterday, between sneezes and (trying to) work, I would take a little moment to tangle. It took me all day to do this one, but that was the fun of it. A little at a time: pick it up, put it down, let it be, look at it again, turn it around, walk away, sneeze a few more times, tangle again. Taking all day to do this tile, it gave me a chance to be with it in a different way each time I came back to it. I'm sure it's a much different tile than if I had done it all in one sitting.
   The tangles I used: Jetties, Scena, Florz, Enyshou (variation). There has to be a tangle name for the rope part, although I couldn't find it. Anyone?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flu Fun

I have a bit of a head cold, so last night I took a little medicine to help the cough. I don't know if it was the med or just the head... but I did that thing where I dreamed all night about the same thing! Over and over I worked on a Zentangle ('NZeppel, to be exact!). I woke up and figured I might as well do one in real life, so here it be:
Looks sort of lung-like. Dreaming in Zentangles is much better than dreaming a math problem all night long! At least I know I can do a Zentangle! A math problem, nuh uh.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Singing Out of Tune

We can go along our way, la-dee-da, content with our creative choices and interests. La-dee-da. Then one day we come upon a new interest that creeps into our daily desires. We keep singing, but the tune changes maybe to la-dee-dee. We are still singing la-dee-da, but we find more often that we resonate with the la-dee-dee. Pretty soon we are singing la-dee-dee almost all the time. And then one day we try to sing the la-dee-da, and we find that we are way out of tune!!
   This has happened to me. My la-dee-da for the past seven years has been beadweaving. I loved the beads, the colors, the textures! I loved waking up most mornings with new ways to pattern the beads to make a whole new design. It was a natural song and I loved it.
    Then one day, as the story goes, La-dee-dee, aka Zentangle, came into my sphere. The more I did it, the more I did it! (And I have to say, the world looks different to me in ways that would require a whole other blog post.) Suffice it to say, I am singing this song almost all the time. My beads look a little forlorn, the newest ones still in their baggies, not yet put away. I'm almost afraid to put them away for fear I won't remember the new ones are with me. There is a grief I feel for not having given the beads my usual attention. And as the universe works in funny little ways, amid all this lack of attention, I was surprised to see that my last design for the year in Beadwork magazine was now featured on the cover. I am really feeling honored by this, but I also am even more aware of my grief for the song I've neglected in the past few months. Having submitted a few new designs to Beadwork for the coming year, the newest design (called Ricky Rack) to get accepted is due this week. The magazine editors asked if I could make the design in a couple additional colorways. I tried and tried, but I was way out of tune!! It seemed the harder I tried, the less satisfied I was with the colors.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends...
  I called my friend Jann to see if she would use my new design instructions to make a few color samples to send to the magazine. And wow, did she! She showed up with some beautiful finished pieces, and to top it off, she brought her "rejects." I was so stunned by how many colors she had tried! She truly saved me from my growing stress level of getting them done. But more than that, she allowed me to be ok with the break I needed AND she also inspired me to take another look. As I sat with a group of my friends, the samples and "rejects" all spread out before me, I began --- in Zentangle fashion -- to rearrange and poke around at all the what ifs... using the rejects, mind you! Pretty soon, a couple of friends were beside me, poking around with me, rearranging pieces and colors, getting into my bead stash to find additions. It was great fun!! When they left, I found myself energized and inspired to move forward... one bead at a time, one component and one stitch at a time. The stress was gone as I felt the energy of all of my friends in each stitch and in each bead. By the end of the night, a whole new bracelet was born, using all of Jann's sample bits, and all of the ideas that my freinds had offered. Collaboration is just the most fun! The new bracelet is in the middle, flanked by the original design of "Ricky Rack".

As I remember Ricky Rack's beginnings, I had almost forgotten that it had come from playing with new tangle experiments... so not only did I get a little (a LOT) of help from my friends, I think the new song and the old song might be more closely related than I was aware of. I think the new design needs a name that reflects the collaboration of all those things. Anyone have any ideas out there? It would only be fitting for another friend to name it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Never Fear! (There's Always Bronx Cheer!)

I was tangling away last night, making up stuff and trying new things. At some point I realized that one corner of my tile was in need of a little different look, although short of coloring the whole section in black, not much would change what I had done. And then I remembered the tangle, Bronx Cheer. I had so much fun making those little wild circles, that I kept going and going and going, getting lost in the rhythm of the raspberry! Mine doesn't really look like any raspberry, but the spirit of it is there! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beyond the Basics Class

So what does one learn in a Zentangle: Beyond Basics class? Eight different tangles, their alternate possibilities, plus ways to shade those possibilities. Thanks, Gallery 510! There is another class with different tangles this coming Saturday.

I will now let the students' tiles speak for themselves...

And while I was at the 510 Gallery, Cathy Helmers stopped in to drop off her latest creations: The Featherheads. These are large cloth dolls that she has tangled from head to toe. Stop in and see them in person if you need to add some real delight to your day! Or better yet, buy one as a gift to delight someone you love!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tools not Rules

Whenever a system of structure is presented, it seems the first thing many of us do is put that structure in the "rules" category of our brain. It's a safe place to put things, but not always the appropriate story to tell ourselves.
     An example that comes to mind is learning a line dance. (I'm talking regular people, not professional dancers!) There is a sequence of steps to follow so that a group of people can all do the same movements at the same time to the same music. It's a unifying and fun thing for a group of people to do the same thing at once. But do they all look the same or feel it the same way? Some put a little more wiggle in their hip, some do a little shoulder shimmy, some do a kick high, some barely do a kick, some stomp hard, others tap lightly. The structure and sequence of the dance provides a way for them to connect and experience the music and the dance. But the experience, even when done in a group, is a very personal one.
   Creating a Zentangle tile begins with a structure, and the tangles have sequential steps that make them easy to learn. Just like a line dance (and yes, our tangle lines do dance!), learning the steps is just the doorway to enjoying the dance and the music in your own special way. How you shimmy or don't shimmy is your own relationship with the dance. And if, in the middle of the song, you decide to step out of the line and whirl around the room, then thank the steps (tools) that let you do that!
   If we can challenge our "rule story", we might find that all along, the rules were just tools.