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!