Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten.
K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology
Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
Tripoli may be a place and a fantastic vacation destination, but tripoli is also a Zentangle pattern. If you have the Zentangle® Mosaic app, you probably saw this week’s Kitchen Tabe Tangling (KTT) video on how to draw tripoli and embellish the elements. Although i have been tangling with tripoli for quite a while, the video added some new information about tripoli that I didn’t think about before. The KTT inspired me to both blog about this versatile pattern as well as to try my hand at something more creative than the mundane way in which I’ve been drawing it.
Tripoli is not a single triangle element, but a bunch of elements connecting to form free-flowing paths and groupings of triangular shapes. Typically, the triangles are filled with “fragments,” which are patterns used in part to fill elements of a grid pattern. Below are a few example of simple grid patterns.
Fragments can be used all sorts of ways, including to fill a shape or to embellish a string.
Usually, when tripoli is tangled, each triangle is filled with a fragment. In the examples shown below, you can see how the tripoli elements build from each other. The next triangle builds from a line that auras one side of the previous triangle.
In these tangles, grouped triangles are about the same size and contain the same fragment pattern. However, there is no hard and fast rule; consecutive triangles can grow or shrink, and fragments can change from one element to the next.
The wonderful thing about tripoli is that the elements don’t need to be filled at all. The individual triangles can be filled with anything that seems to fit the path or grouping as well. In the example below, the paths and groupings reminded me of a bunch of flowers in a garden. So I filled the triangle elements to reflect that. Shading and color smoothed the edges and points to look more like something Nature would do.
Each “petal” and “leaf” is a pointed triangle, and most of the sides of the triangles are slightly curved–mostly because I prefer a bit of curve over straight lines. Each triangle began with an aura of one side of the previous triangle. The aura became the first side of the next triangle. It is even OK to slightly “hook” the aura if you are going for a rounded grouping–or just because. In this example, although some triangles were later filled with a pattern that resembles the veins found on a leaf, the rest were simply filled with color and texture to resemble petals. Even the butterfly body started out as a triangle which was subsequently filled with color.
Tripoli is one of the most versatile Zentangle patterns. It can become a lizzard or a flower and many things in between. The flow of the path or the grouping your pen creates as you tangle suggests an object or design. You fill the triangles with patterns or color or texture to produce beautiful effects.
Remember: Anything is possible one stroke at a time.®
Earlier this week, I posted a picture on the Zentangle Mosaic® app of a holder I made out of an Apprentice tile (4.5 inches square) to keep my brand new 2.5-inch square business cards from VistaPrint®.
This post caused several people to ask how I made the holder, and I promised to post directions here on my blog.
Thinking back to a four-piece bijou puzzle I tangled for Valentangle2017 on Facebook, I thought it might be better to create a bijou-sized holder instead of the business card holder. Where the business cards are 2.5 inches square and need the larger Apprentice tile, bijou tiles are only 2 inches square, so a standard 3.5 inch square tile is plenty large to make a holder. No matter what size holder you need, the procedure is the same.
Step 1: Mark the center and diagonal lines.
With a pencil, find and draw the diagonals and centers on the backs of both your “final size” tile and the tile from which you will make the holder. Measure for accuracy. Your tile will resemble a squared round pizza.
Step 2: Line up the two square tiles, then trace.
Turn your bijou 45 degrees, and match up the bijou’s diagonal lines to the standard tile’s center lines, and the bijou’s center lines to the larger tile’s diagonals. It may not be a perfect match, but match as closely as possible. Once the lines are matched, trace the bijou onto the larger tile.
Step 3: Re-draw 3/16-ths of an inch away.
Aura the bijou outline 3/16-ths of an inch away from the center on all sides.
Step 4: Score for folding.
Line up a ruler or other straight edge tool with the drawn lines. With your favorite paper scoring tool (I use a bamboo skewer), score just outside the pencil lines, going from one edge of the larger tile to the other. Do this for the bijou tracing and for its frame.
Step 5: Fold along scored lines.
Fold along all of the scored lines. At the corners, there will be extra paper. Trim away this extra space with two inward snips along the main fold lines. Cut no further than the inside folds.
Re-fold the tile so the clean side is to the outside. Sharpen the fold lines by pressing on them again with your fingers or with a smooth hard object for a sharper crease.
Step 7: Tangle.
Unfold the box and tangle it any way you like. Remember that three flaps will fold over each other in the box to contain the bijou tiles. You may want to wait until the holder is glued together before tangling the back.
Step 8: Cut some filler.
Before going further, take some time to cut some bijou-sized filler for your holder. I generally fold a newspaper page several times and cut out a section the same size as what I plan to fill with–such as bijou tiles or business cards. While you are at it, cut a piece of waxed paper or baking parchment to the same size. Slide this between your filler and the flaps. The filler makes it easier to glue the flaps together and later tangle the box, as well as provide a surface to cut into if you plan to make a flap tuck for your holder. The square of waxed paper or parchment keeps the filler from being accidentally glued inside the flaps when the glue spreads out inside.
Sometimes, I just carefully wrap bijou tiles or cards in waxed paper and slip them into the holder before gluing. This works best if I use tiny wafer-thin magnets as a closure. The waxed paper does nothing to prevent the X-acto knife from cutting into a good tile or business card!
Step 9: Glue flaps together.
Overlap the two side flaps and glue them together. Next, bring up the bottom flap and glue it in place so the section resembles an envelope. This is far easier to do and let dry with filler inside.
For gluing, I use the same thing I use to seal my artwork–Mod Podge® Matte water-based sealer, glue, and finish. It works great as a glue and as a sealant to protect the paper from wearing too quickly, and to keep my artwork looking fresh longer.
Once the glue is dry, you may want to tangled the back. You can wait until after you have sealed your holder, but you will need to seal the work again, as even Micron® ink can smear when used over the Mod Podge.
Step 10: Seal your work.
To protect your artwork and to extend the life of your holder, seal the entire surface–front, back, sides–with a protective sealer such as Mod Podge Matte or Mod Podge Glossy. Using an inexpensive art brush, cover the front and sides with the sealer, wipe away excess at the edges with a damp cloth, and allow to dry completely.
When dry, flip the holder over and brush the back with sealer. Wipe away any excess, as with the front. If you like, erase any pencil marks from the inside of the loose top flap piece, and seal it, too.
Give the holder time to dry completely before continuing. Mod Podge is dry to the touch in minutes, but could take half an hour or longer to dry through layers.
Step 11: Flap closures.
Once everything is completely dry, fold the top flap over, and make marks to either side of where you want to cut a flap tuck. Using a straight edge and an X-acto knife, cut two parallel lines close together through all thicknesses.
I didn’t wait long enough, and the damp glue not only got all over the knife edge, but also created some problems for cutting through damp paper fibers. The result is a slit that is more ragged than it would have been if I were a little more patient.
If you prefer to use magnets or Velcro as fastenings, this would be a good step to apply those closures.
Step 12: Decorate back, if not done earlier.
All I wanted to do was add a bit of printemps around the flap tuck. You may choose to tangle the whole back, if you haven’t done so in an earlier step. I was going to leave the back untangled, except for the flap which I tangled with the front. However, I got finger smudges along the flap tuck because I cut too soon. I wanted to cover them up a bit.
And the holder is done!
Hope this gives you some ideas about what can be done with tiles, other than draw on them. There are so many beautiful, creative art works by tanglers all over the Internet. Maybe you will add to them to inspire others!
Earlier this week, on the Zentangle® Mosaic® app, founder Maria Thomas shared one of her first tangling pieces from very early in The Zentangle Method®’s history. She encouraged us to share our firsts.
As I read through descriptions of uploaded first works, I marveled at how many tanglers were introduced to Zentangle through use of the book One Zentangle a Day, by Beckah Krahula. Individuals who had not been able to locate a CZT (that’s Certified Zentangle Teacher) began their tangling journey using that book One Zentangle a Day was published in 2012, four years before the more comprehensive Zentangle Primer, Vol. 1 came out. Although Suzanne McNeil had been publishing thin workbook-style books for several years by then, it did not take a rocket scientist’s math abilities to realize that Krahula’s book was more cost-efficient and comprehensive than twelve workbook volumes. Before spending $50 on the official Zentangle kit (available from the Zentangle.com site or from any CZT) and, for the past year, another $50 on the Primer, so many of us took the less expensive introductory experience of purchasing One Zentangle and a stack of inexpensive card stock paper tiles by Peter Pauper Press (probably all purchased via Amazon, too!). Or we used sketchbooks in lieu of tiles. This way, if we didn’t like tangling, we spent less than $30 for book and tools rather than $100 or more to get started. Not one of us regrets having spent that $100 later, though, because the tangling journey made us feel good, and we needed more.
My tangling journey began 15 months ago, with One Zentangle a Day and a sketch book that had many of my traditional drawing attempts in its first half. I worked almost exclusively in the journal for several weeks, mostly because I lacked the confidence to ruin even a cheap tile. Sometimes, I drew 3.5-inch squares to simulate tiles. More often, I simply drew a square that was big enough to tangle in, but was either larger or smaller than an actual tangling tile. Perhaps I was deciding whether I liked tangling, or maybe I was sticking to the sketchbook because I needed the sense of familiarity and security of a well-used surface. It took a while before I started using the inexpensive tiles.
Much of my tangling was originally done in pencil–just in case I wanted to erase, even though we don’t erase in tangling. Then I moved on to more complex tangling as I learned more patterns and came up with more strings. Gradually, my work improved and I out-grew One Zentangle a Day.
That’s when I decided to invest in the Zentangle Kit, the Primer, and finally the Zentangle Mosaic app. Following the lessons in the Primer and getting insight and inspiration from fellow tanglers on Mosaic, I kept tangling and found my art–and my ability to meditate–growing, expanding, evolving. By then, I had also decided that I needed to attend the Zentangle teacher certification Seminar, if for no other reasons than to attend a formal class, and to legitimately spread the love of tangling to the island’s residents so I wouldn’t have to tangle alone.
Maria Thomas’ challenge on the Mosaic app opened so many opportunities to share where many tanglers started, and why we started. Some people took up tangling because they were established artists wanting to learn a new technique. Many started their Zentangle journey because of a major life change–the loss of a loved one, a move to a very different environment, retirement. Still others came across the Zentangle Method when they were searching for a form of meditation that didn’t force physical stillness. A few were introduced to tangling by a close friend. Some simply stumbled across Zentangle on the internet and thought it was pretty. Most started tangling because of several of these reasons, plus others. But we all started somewhere, fell in love with tangling, and continued to grow through certification seminars or various local tangling workshops.
The humble beginnings project got many of us communicating and sharing how the Zentangle Method has helped us personally. Both on this blog and on another blog site (Write of Passage, or dremiller.com), I have shared both why I tangle and what my experiences have been. Among the ways Zentangle has helped me personally is calming my mind, helping me learn (or re-learn) to focus on something, relieving physical and mental tension and anxiety; and providing meditative opportunities to examine my past, including behaviors, and to brain-storm the possible impacts of important decisions. Meditation has helped me explore myself in many ways, with the topic of exploration showing up often in my tangled works.
Why do you tangle? How did you get started? If you have been tangling a while, how has the Zentangle Method helped you with your life and your art? How has your art changed?
Leave a comment to this post and share your tangling journey!
Lately, instead of blogging, I have been tangling away for a “first workshop.” The Zentangle Method® workshop is being conducted for students and faculty of a local medical school. This may be a “one shot” as the group is very busy with classes and studies. So I need to present as many workable tangles as possible into a 2-hour workshop. It’s not for another six weeks or so, but I want to give participants an idea of what can be done with just six or seven basic tangles.
The purpose of the workshop is to help students to learn an active meditation technique. Tangling can help them relax, relieve anxiety especially before exams, and learn focus and concentration tools that can be applied to studying. The purpose of the examples is to help them see the versatility of using only a few patterns to get them started.
These are the first tiles I have tangled with just the first six (or seven) patterns I will be teaching during that workshop. I plan to teach both Tipple and Jetties together, because I kind of think of them as the same basic tangle–a basic version and a version with attitude. The other tangles will include Crescent Moon, Hollibaugh, Florz, Printemps, and Shattuck. And Bales, if there is time. These should provide an idea of the versatility of learning and tangling with such a limited number of patterns.
In addition, I am working up tiles that would include tangles from a second session. That session would include Bales (if not covered in the first session), Knight’s Bridge, Flux (both versions), Mooka, Poke Root and Poke Leaf. So much more versatility with only five more patterns!
A month ago, the thought of tangling on a black tile–especially with a white Gelly Roll® pen–made my stomach knot up. I kept trying, but it was more difficult to conquer the fear of black tiles than anything I’ve ever done–except quitting smoking; I’m still working hard on that.
When I was at CZT Seminar 27 last month in Providence, RI, the topic came up in a conversation with Maria Thomas, one of the Zentangle® founders, about fear of tangling on black. Every wobble of the white pen is so vivid. Amazingly, many talented tanglers had trouble working with black tiles. Maria thought about it for a moment and said, “Start with gray.” The next session was starting, so there was no opportunity for clarification. But I thought about that, and thought hard.
When I returned home, I tried several things. I tried gray markers and brush pens first, but they just disappeared into the black tiles. Next, I tried some light gray color pencils, which worked OK in terms of showing up on the black tile, but required a lot of pressure and constant sharpening. Using gray gel pens produced better results. I even tried using gray markers and gel pens on top of white ink. Nothing was working for me. So I simply turned to some of the less bright Gelly Roll Moonlight pens I had in my arsenal. Those gave me a feeling that not every wobble was showing up on my tiles, and helped me get comfortable with tangling on black.
Finally, I started tangling on black tiles with white gel pens again–but not with the recommended Gelly Roll. Instead, I used a slightly finer tipped white pen by Uniball, called Angelic. That slightly finer line made the difference for me. From there, it was nothing to pick up the white Gelly Roll without thinking, and tangling away without fear, and quite happily!
For me, it was a process to lose the fear of tangling white on black. Although I am still unclear of what Maria meant by suggesting I start with gray, her suggestion got me trying new things with black tiles. I found that tangling with colors was a lot less scary. I also found that moving to a finer white pen helped a lot, especially with working towards using the broader white Gelly Roll pen. And sometimes, we need that process of discovering what works better for us before we can pick up the expected tools again.
Interestingly, cost may have been a factor for me. I started tangling white on black using the far less expensive black tiles from Peter Pauper Press. Official Zentangle black tiles are costly in comparison. I had tons of PPP tiles, but only a handful of the Zentangle tiles. At the Zentangle store during Seminar, I bought tons of official black tiles. When I came home, I pretty much dropped the less expensive tiles. That recommendation–not using inexpensive black tiles–actually came from a methods e-book by artist and CZT Eni Oken, in Glow on the Dark, an e-book on 3D shading on black tiles (available from EniOken.com). Since I had a bunch of high-quality official black tiles, I was a bit braver about using them for experimentation. [It is so difficult and time-consuming to get specialized stuff on the island that I cringe every time I put in an online order. It doesn’t stop me from buying online, but I still cringe at the extra mailing costs, especially if I don’t want to wait months for postal inspection. (That’s why we use a courier service–stuff gets through so much faster!)]
I guess what I am trying to say is that I couldn’t conquer my fear of tangling in white on black until I had the right tools to play with–tools that made it easier for me to move from cringing to creating.
Note to readers: I am the guilty party–I inflicted abuse on a poor defenseless classic black Zentangle® tile. I am ashamed and remorseful, but the fact exists–I mistreated my precious tile. Below is a reconstruction of the original tangle on this poor tile’s surface.
I started out right. I gave thanks and appreciation for my time and the quality of the materials before me, to the comfortable tangling space, for the opportunity to create something beautiful. However, all this took place under the influence of a little pill meant to help me sleep. That is no excuse for the behavior my tile will explain. But it was a circumstance, one which even led to my dating the original work as June 26, 1921! I can’t even explain where that date came from, or how I could have believed I was creating magic with my tile. But that’s the start of this tale. Only she–my abused tile–can tell the actual non-drug-influenced story.
Good evening, readers. My name isn’t important, but you can call me Glitter, as that’s the name I chose once DrEllie fixed me. But let me start at the beginning.
Ellie is an insomniac. Most nights she fits in a couple of hours of sleep, but sometimes she is awake for 48 hours or more straight. Most prescription sleep aids cause sleep walking. She has already fallen down the steps twice, so she refuses to take them. Instead, her doctor prescribed a tranquilizer that she can take at bedtime–but only half a pill. Those things are wicked! Last night, the half pill was not working, even as she partially tangled tiles to send to friends who sent her some before. She already felt badly about being so far behind. Unfortunately, even the tangling, along with the sleeping dose, were not helping her get sleepy. After a few hours, she decided to take the other half pill.
Over the next hour or so, I watched as her drawing deteriorated across half a dozen tiles. Crooked lines that didn’t meet, circles that looked like–well, not circles at all. Finally, she picked me up–the first black tile of the bunch. And then she picked up the white gel pen. And I felt her drawing all over me–a sort of curved frame, some “curved” lines in the corners that resembled squiggles more than lines, the worst mooka I’ve seen her draw since she was first learning it–this one looked like a misshapen Meerschaum pipe!–and some really off-base fescue that looked like squiggly blobs with jagged stems. I begged her to stop–that she was destroying my beauty and anything akin to balanced composition. All she did was scowl at me and keep drawing.
Suddenly, she lifted her pen and dropped it on the drawing board. The pen rolled off the surface and out of sight. “I need to cap my pen!” she told the dog who sleepily lifted his head, regarding her through barely open eyes. He was tired, too. He was only there to keep her company. Ellie almost fell off her chair to search for the pen. She began crawling around on hands and knees in her search. And she barely kept herself from toppling over more than once. At least twice, she asked the dog what she was looking for. The dog had fallen asleep again and didn’t answer. Finally, she found the white gel pen (hard to do on white tile flooring with only overhead lights to help see). It took her a while to stand up again, using the chair and table top for support. I watched her sway back and forth as she tried to remember what she needed to do next. “The cap,” she finally whispered.
The cap was easy enough to find. It was right next to me, on a clean black tile she hadn’t used yet. I guess the tile was patiently awaiting its turn. After three tries, Ellie finally clicked the pen closed and very carefully set it on top of me. Still standing and swaying, she murmured to no one in particular, “I think the meds have kicked in.” I watched as she made a drunkard’s path to the staircase leading to her bedroom. I held my breath as she navigated the steps. The dog, who follows her everywhere and normally pushes past her up the stairs, quietly sat waiting until she reached the bedroom door and turned out the hall light. Then he zipped up after her.
It’s me again–Ellie. I don’t remember climbing into bed, but that’s where I was when I overslept this morning. Ten-thirty! Where had the time gone?
After throwing on some clothes, I made my way downstairs. I made a cup of coffee, and wandered over to my tangling area. I vaguely remembered working on a group of tiles, but it took a few minutes to remember that I was creating some traveling tile project pieces to get in the mail. I saw Glitter–nowhere near resembling her new name–sitting in my active drawing area. Then I saw the pile of started tiles. Setting the coffee mug down, I examined each tile. The first two were awful, but there was improvement as I got deeper into the short stack. I must have tangled the lower ones first, placing each next tile on top as I finished it. I cringed at the higher tiles–a two-year-old would have produced better results.
Next, I picked up Glitter, and tears began rolling down my face. She was utterly disfigured–and I knew I had done this to her. Only the original border lines were passable. Through my tears, I heard, “You can fix me! There are no mistakes in Zentangle!” I stared at her.
“How?” I asked, barely above a whisper.
“I’m a black tile, right?” I nodded. “You have a whole assortment of black Micron® pens with lots of nib widths, right? Even a black Micron brush pen?” Again I nodded. “Well, sit down and make me something special–something that will help you remember never again to tangle after taking pills.”
Smiling now, I dug out not only my standard supplies, but also my Gelly Roll metalic and Stardust pens. For good measure, I also pulled out my Souffle pens, just in case. Good thing, because I couldn’t find my gray brush pen, and the black Soufflé dries beautifully gray.
It’s Glitter again. I’ll finish the story.
The first thing Ellie did was take out her Micron 08. Where she could, she smoothed out curves, redefined lines, fixed up dangly end where lines met and then some. It sort of tickled, but it also hurt a little. Next, she obliterated groups of lines that were supposed to be parallel but–well, let’s say they were lines that went in interesting directions, with some even crossing multiple others. That was really painful–like being deliberately abraided! Somehow, she managed to save and refine the mooka and fixed the fescue. Then she fixed up the crescent moons she had in some interesting corners, redefined some, and used blue gel ink to sort of shade them. None of that hurt as much as the abraiding feel, but it was still uncomfortable. Sitting back, she looked at all the white that disappeared under the black pen. And she stared and stared.
Finally, she picked up the white gel pen again and redrew those curved parallel lines she obliterated earlier. She looked at the variety of Sakura® gels pens she took out earlier, and I saw her smile.
First came a small Way Bop, filled in with flat and metallic pens. Then she fixed the corners with the parallel curves, Eni Oken style (or as close as she could get to that). She used that black Soufflé pen for the gray marker area, and added the “sparkle” to the curved areas with white Gellies. With the Stardust pens, she added glittery effects where areas seemed to need very subtle sparkle. Finally, she redefined lines and curves where they needed some clarity, and sat back. “What do you think?” she asked me. “Are you happy with your new look?”
My tile spirit floated to her shoulder and looked down. “Not bad,” I said. “Not bad at all!” I floated back into myself. “You know,” I told her. “You were really rough on my surface when you scrubbed away those awful white lines. I think I have all sorts of thinner spots, and you changed the texture of my surface in a lot of places. I should report you to the tile protection league, but you really came through. I really love my new look!”
“So, Glitter,” I said. ” I want to formally apologize for abraiding you and hurting you as I redefined lines. I am so sorry for any irreparable destruction I caused to your fragile tooth–that’s surface texture, if you’re wondering if I should send you to a dentist. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but there was no other way to restore your lovely surface. And you have to admit, this design is far nicer than those crazy white lines I drew all over you.”
“This new look suits me,” Glitter replied. I really like the colors–spots of gold, even!–and I feel sparkly and shiny!” Glitter paused for a moment, deep in thought. “Just promise me something.”
“Anything,” I reply.
“Never ever tangle when you’re taking those meds again. I don’t want any friends going through the same experience. Promise me that, and you are forgiven forever.”
“Not a problem, Glitter,” I replied. “I promise. I’ve learned my lesson. Not a problem at all.”