Thursday, March 31, 2011


Week Number 15 of the Diva's Challenge: Curves
   What began as a balancing exercise (last week was straight lines), became a wide swing of the pendulum for me. I couldn't stop with the curves. Thank goodness a new grid-based tangle came along that I really liked (Quiltz, by Kym Barlow), and that shook me out of the curves for just a minute :)
   I also fell in love with Maria Thomas' idea of using the white Sakura Jelly Roll pen in the dark recesses (interstices=new word for me) of my tile. So that kept me busy with even more fun this week. It all just makes me wonder, 'Wow, what will happen next week?'
  Thanks, everyone, for such a wonderfully inspired week!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Being the Zentangle

There are some people in this world who have the ability to inspire confidence in other people. Just being in their presence makes you feel like the world and what is in it, is an open place, full of possibilities. I see it as a sort of transfer of confidence... whatever confident energy one person has, can be transfered to another if the other is even slightly open.

    Any of my friends who have heard my Hair Horror Stories will tell you that when it comes to getting my hair cut, I have no hope or confidence whatsoever!! At one point I resigned myself to what I called bad hair karma.
   If there is such a thing, I'm thinking that my hair karma may have changed.
   Craig at Affinity Salon did my hair in November, and it gets more fun every time I go. My hair is basically gray, which I do like. I've been through the coloring thing, but I'm not diligent enough to always keep it up, and like I said, the gray is fine. But since I was having so much fun, I might as well have some MORE fun, so we decided to play with some color. 
   Our discussion about exactly what part to color, and then what actual color, was interesting to me. If we moved forward simply by the words in the discussion, we would not have gotten anywhere. The color brown can be dark and rich or soft and minky, and what does that really mean to each person? We both had a vision of sorts, but it seemed like it might be different, but how would I know? One person's words can mean something very different to another. 
    But because Craig is one of those people I mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog, I found myself inspired by his confidence, and just surrendered to the process itself.I knew I had to let go of whatever the heck I thought 'minky' was, and just let him do his thing. I told him my life was in his hands and whatever he did, I would be open.
   I was also scheduled to get a manicure that day. When Nikki, the manicurist, asked me what color I'd like, I told her my usual preference was a (safe) muted color, but that today was a day for getting out of my box. She picked a brighter pink. Again, I again surrender. I sat at the table, ready for some pink, when Craig came over with two bottles of purple nail polish. Wow. The last color I would pick. Funny. The only other time anyone gave me nail polish it was purple. My friend and fellow CZT Carol Bailey Floyd sent it to me once as a gift of celebration and joyous abandon. So fitting that he would pick purple today. Again, I surrendered.

   I felt a little like a blank Zentangle tile-- open and available to whatever the universe has in store. I sat back and let Craig and Nikki do what they love to do (and they do it so well). I even ended up with a flower painted on one of my nails. For someone who wears olive green, grey and black most of the time, purple nail polish with a little flower was definitely out of my comfort zone... but...I found that floating with these two people was more fun than controlling what happened to my hair and fingernails.
   Letting go of my expectations and wishes, I had no grounds for disappointment. WIth nothing to control, I had nothing to hold on to. Wow. That was so much fun. And for the record, I was extremely happy with the hair AND the purple nails! Thank you Craig and Nikki.

  The next time you sit with a blank Zentangle tile, think of how that little open space is waiting for you to give it your confidence and joy. It's your opportunity to transfer a little of your passion onto a sweet little piece of art. Then once you've made the 'transfer', go find someone to give it to.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tangle: Floatfest

Just one more bit of FloatFest fun...

This month's Tangle a Day Calendar came along with me to the FloatFest Zentangle Re-Treat last weekend. A few people saw what showed up on March 6 and 7 of the calendar, and asked if I would demonstrate the tangle. 

At the time, there was no name for it, so the group decided it should be named for the retreat, since this was the first time it had been shared. So I present: Floatfest: the tangle.

This tangle starts off like Crescent Moon, and ends up a little like Hollibaugh with its "bars behind" process. It works best on a rounded area of the string, so the auras can dance a bit. We tried starting on a straight line, but it didn't have the same effect. When doing the double auras (beginning Step 2), don't worry about where they begin and end. Just stop the aura when you get to whatever element it bumps into. Keep adding the double auras, piling them as high as you like.
   After you've created the initial aura arcs, go back and add the bottom portions (legs) of the arcs (Step 5). The order of adding these legs doesn't matter, unless you want it to. You can begin toward the front, or bottom row, and continue back. I find that I start that way, and then next thing I know, I am doing them willy nilly. It's all about the floating on this one!
   Once the group named this tangle, I thought it seemed really fitting. I see the crescent shapes as individuals of a community. As each person's aura/energy ripples outward, it touches the next person in unexpected and unplanned ways. When the auras are completed, they tie everything together and feel like a very unified element. Just like a community. The trick to its charm is not to control it. Let the auras fall where they may and appreciate and love them for just where they are.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Straight Up ZELIA

One of our FloatFest participants owns a bead shop (Beads'N More) in Akron Ohio. Estelle and I had a couple chats about how Zentangle and beadweaving might work hand in hand. I had thought a while back about doing a beaded cuff in a Zentangle design, but it just never happened. Talking with Estelle fueled and reignited those little embers, and as soon as I returned home, I began working on a cuff using a simple peyote stitch. I had never attempted to bead from a peyote chart pattern (much less create one!), but before I began any beading, I had to first create a Zentangle design that could be transfered to a bead chart. Because this stitch is created in staggered lines of beads, yes, you guessed it... Laura's challenge was perfectly timed, floating right into the focus of my project. (How was I going to get those spirals I saw in my head to be any kind of round in this world of straight lines?)
   The cuff is not complete, but thought I would share what's happening so far with the process. 
   Beading from a chart is more relaxing than I had imagined. I never was one for counted cross stitch, although not sure why. I think working from a pattern seemed very confining somehow. But now I am seeing how 'in the moment' this kind of work is. Each bead goes on one at a time, added row by row, in an order that hardly makes any sense to me as I do it. And trying to "figure it out" from a big picture perspective, just confuses me and I have to think too hard. So, in each moment, the focus is on each bead and where it goes, trusting the chart, and hoping the end result will look like the chart I designed. As the piece gets going, it's really exciting to see the patterns emerge. Even the 'mistakes' are ok with me. After all, it's Zentangle/Estelle/Laura-inspired art! (ZELIA). Thank you everyone!!

Straight Ahead

After a weekend of Zentangle saturation at the FloatFest Re-Treat, I wasn't sure if I would be all tangled out, or just getting started. As it turns out, I haven't quit tangling since I got home. The Diva's Challenge #14 was waiting for me when I got back. I found it perfectly appropriate that after such a floaty weekend, she offered a bunch of straight lines as a challenge. Perfect. I did two right away.
  The first one uses Puf, Baton, and Paradox. The lower left portion began as a tangleation of Betweed, and then it morphed into something very 'slatty' looking. I left one of the Puf items (upper left) unconnected, just as a reminder of how this tangle begins with straight lines. In connecting the corners with little individual straight lines, one corner to the next, it puffs up in a magical way. I'm always amazed at how Puf and Paradox get so round. Way fun.
   I also played with another medium that fit in perfectly with this challenge. Once again, Miss Laura's timing was perfect. But more about that on another day...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still floating

Lots of sharing went on during our FloatFest weekend. One of our participants, Lacey, showed us how to make a tetrahedron from an ordinary envelope. Very cool!

We experimented with watercolor pencils, using the tangles, Puf and Paradox as our base.

Between classes and show and tells, we floated around nine tiles that each had the same string. Each person filled in whatever areas they felt like filling, and put it back on a table. At any time during our stay, we picked up a tile from the table and tangled a little bit more. On Saturday, we assembled the tiles into a "quilt", put it in a 12x12 frame, and signed our names on the back. We got the kitchen crew to draw a name, and Sheryl returned to her home with all of us lovingly tucked under glass, going home with her.

Thanks, everyone, for a wonderful weekend.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Floating

Before everyone's arrival, the room stood still in a glow of soft sun. Fresh white tablecloths seemed to float above the chairs, waiting for the tanglers to set up residence. Little gift boxes waited for their new caretakers to open them and relish their contents.
   The weather was a beautiful, sunny sixty-something, perfect for driving, as some were coming from Northern Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.
   By five pm, most had arrived, and we settled into our rooms, found our extra blankies, and then met for a wonderful dinner prepared by the Oakwood staff. We also had some special Blake's cupcakes delivered by one of our Akron Ohio visitors. (Thanks, Estelle!) We unpacked our goodies, then sat for a tangly little while to get to know each other, and to  warm up our places for the coming day...

   The next morning began around 8am with a lovely breakfast. After we settled back into our workspaces, Peg Farmer (CZT #3), walked us through the lovely ritual of beginning a Zentangle tile. She led us into the zone with a wonderful combination of tangles! We joked about having a Zentangle donut for breakfast...(this photo was taken before we added the last tangle in the center.)

Some of our participants in the Z-zone...It was fitting to have  

so much pink (the color of love and disarmament) to start our weekend...

FloatFest 2011

Just as taking a picture of a beautiful full moon just isn't like the real thing, there is hardly a way for me to describe my experience of this past weekend's FloatFest retreat.
   Floatfest is a Zentangle-inspired retreat that was open to anyone who wanted to spend a long weekend immersed in the fun of Zentangle. Held at Oakwood Retreat Center in Selma, Indiana, it began on Thursday evening (St. Patty's Day) and floated through the (full moon) weekend, ending Sunday (first day of Spring!) mid morning.
   When I first had the idea to do the retreat, my only wish was to gather other 'Z-freaks' and be with them. I figured there might be others like me who wanted a chance to do the same. Twelve of us gathered to tangle the weekend away, share some tricks and ideas, take a few classes, naps and side excursions, and nourish ourselves with wonderful, wholesome food prepared by the Oakwood staff.
  There were many wonderful things about all the people who attended, one of which was their ability to be a group that allowed for each other, cared for each other, and floated with each moment. To me, the whole weekend was one big Zentangle... each moment connected to the next moment, changing the "plan" as the moments called for it. At one point we changed the whole day's schedule so a group could take an afternoon trip to Muncie for some shopping. I am so grateful for each person's openness to the floating part of the weekend. To me, that is the essence of the Zentangle process. We had a schedule as our "string", but we floated in and out of it as each of us needed to.
   In the next few days, I will share a little more about the weekend. I usually forget to take pictures of things as they are happening, so there might not be so many of those (maybe some of the participants will send me theirs!), but I can share the glimpses that I do have.
   A big thank you to Oakwood Retreat Center. Roric, Donna, Matt, and Jessica...and the rest of the staff that we never met, but I know their intent helped create the loving, unpretentious space that we "borrowed" for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finding Zees

One of my favorite tools for shading is an everyday mechanical pencil. This came about mostly because I don't have a pencil sharpener in all the places around my house that I tangle. Using a mechanical pencil sidesteps the issue. I like the .07 size the best, and I use "B" lead, which is softer than the HB. Having a little sharp point makes it fun for me to get into all those yummy ditches and dents created by the tangles.
   Scouting the local office supply store for a supply of these pencils, I came across a value pack - yippee! They were so inexpensive that it was well worth trying, even if they all fell apart. Paying attention to nothing other than the price, it wasn't until I got home that I discovered how awesome they really are. Not only do they hold up well, but they are called Z-Grips. Wondrous.
   Every time I use them I am reminded of what the 'Z-Grip' really is: not a grip at all, but a gentle holding of a robin's egg.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

(Waking) In My Sleep

There are corners of our brains that seem to be asleep, or maybe just resting until it's time to come forward. This week's Diva Zentangle Challenge woke up a little corner for me. Our 'assignment' was to create a Zentangle with our non-dominant hand. I have to say, this exercise always excites me! Having taught a right brain drawing class many moons ago, I love the opportunity to shift the way we see, and jump-start parts of our brain that are dormant. Using our non-dominant hand helps to shift the gears of our "regular" brain function. The Zentangle process itself already does this, but using the other hand gives that shift an even bigger push.
   As I created the string, I could already feel a little sleepy part of my brain awakening. As I picked up the pen, it woke up a little more. I felt the little kid in me wandering around the tile, letting the squiggly lines take their shape. It was deliberateness with almost no control. I started to notice that where I placed my next lines felt as strange as what the lines were looking like. It felt almost like I was in a waking dream, being guided by some part of me way underneath my daily brainwaves. What fun!!
   I'm feeling I want to do this at least once every week. Who knows what will come up from that sleeping space inside? I suspect that's where all the 'real' stuff is...
   Thanks, Laura!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Multiplied Blues

Cathy Helmers saw my entry in the Diva's blue challenge on Tuesday's post and thought the tiles would be fun to process as fabric designs. Cathy designs gorgeous Zentangle inspired fabric that you can view (and purchase!) at Here is what she did with a couple of my blue challenges:

Thanks, Cat! Way fun:)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Playing the Blues

The Diva's Challenge #12: Something Blue!
  This was a toughie. It's been a little while since I had used color in Zentangles. I felt a little intimidated and stumped... like there was a 'supposed to' in the mix. There were expectations (self-imposed) swirling around, so I let it be for a day. When I saw Maria Thomas' post, I was inspired to get out the box I could feel myself in.
   I don't have much to color with, except some really fun watercolor pencils. I figured I would start with a blue string, or even a blue blob. Here is what happened first:

I then used a wet brush to smear the color. I forgot that a little color goes a long way with these pencils and the blue ended up much darker than I was hoping for. Oh well, onward and forward! As it moved along, I felt like I wanted more highlights, so I dug up a white pen (Sakura Pentouch) and tried to add some blinkies. It was a little hard to get it to smear just right, since it's an opaque marker, but after some messing around, it finally perked up. For as light as I thought I was starting out, the whole process felt very heavy-handed. I think I was still working out the box issue, with all of its "shoulds" tucked neatly inside it.

Still looking for something airy and blue, I started another. This time the blue was barely on the paper, just a hint of a string. Using the tangle Artoo as a beginning, this springy tile was more of the feeling of blue to me. After the pen, I added a little more blue and pencil shading.

The last one was a tile that I had started a few weeks ago, but only had gotten a small amount tangled. I added blue after I finished the pen tangles. As I worked on all of these, a little blue "rule" ran through my head. It's always been one of my favorite rules, because in the statement contains the allowance for breaking the rule: Blue recedes except for when it doesn't. The fun was to see what the blue was going to do in the end ...will it or won't it?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The Diva's Week 11: Monotangles. (What a great word!)
   One might think that a whole tile with the same tangle would be restrictive. I wondered about that before I started, but then soon realized how freeing the "elegance of limits" can be. 
   I thought back to my college art major days. Our first year Design class was one thing: pick an item from nature, and use that one item as a basis for the designs we would create for the whole semester. At first it seemed almost impossible, but as the weeks went by, we were stretching and seeing and fully in the rhythm of our little item. It was one of the best classes ever. This challenge felt like that. How freeing to only be immersed in one pattern. What an opportunity to explore the lines and feel the rhythms of the tangle. 

   My first tile was a string of loops and circles, with Hollibaugh wrapped around each loop and also then connecting the loops. Great fun.
  I thought this would be the perfect time to bust open my package of pre-strung Zentangle tiles! This took the decision-making almost completely out of the equation. All that was left for me to do was pick a tangle and start. It was so much fun, that I did two more, using Puf (and a few circles, I can't resist, ok and a bullseye kind of center).


This beauty, currently in my side yard, is called a Christmas rose (Helleborus Niger). It usually blooms in the middle of the snow near the end of January. Our snow is gone, and these were a little late, but perfectly timed to give us a taste of the Spring that is coming. Thank you, Momma Nature. We needed that:)