moebius: strips, strings, syndrome

Back in September, in Providence, at CZT training, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas spent some time discussing different applications for Zentangle. I was especially intrigued by one idea: using Zentangle as a brainstorming tool for business people.

I came home to Waukesha, and my job in Milwaukee where I am one of the creative people working in the midst of bottom-line, numbers-oriented business people. Our CEO used to be the VP of Finance. I imagine getting the bunch on the board to tangle on a topic and come up with new ideas and understandings. Then I chuckle and shake my head.

How, I thought, can Zentangle, which tends to be very much in the now for me, be used to focus on one idea? The answer came with this week’s diva challenge from lovely Laura Harms.

Every week, Laura shares a bit of her life with us in addition to a tangle prompt. We’ve come to know her life with B-rad, her husband, Chewie, her older son, and Artoo, the youngest, who has Moebius Syndrome. It’s a rare congenital nerve disorder. The tangle challenge this week is to use a string made from the Moebius Syndrome Foundation’s logo (I abstracted it a bit).

I found that my brain didn’t do its usual wandering-all-over as I tangled. I didn’t stray far from thoughts related to the symbol, and the syndrome.

I’m an occasional knitter, so I thought of patterns related to the moebius strip. I have always liked the idea of that one twist in a loop causing all of the surfaces to be continual.

Then I thought of the challenges of a young family, and how you make your way through, day to day. Artoo got his life-challenge when he was born, and has a loving family to help him through.

When I was done tangling and shading, I felt I could empathize more with people who face big challenges. I admire how they take everything in stride. I also began to understand how focusing on a symbol or an idea can help generate new thinking.



two for the diva’s 102: bunzo and auraknot

I am reminded, every time I work on a Zentangle, what fun it is to draw. It’s a quiet kind of fun, but joyful nonetheless.

There is the sensory aspect of feeling the pen slide across the surface, and seeing the ink form a wet line that dries as it melds with the paper. When I use the pencil to shade, I can feel the slight texture of the tile grabbing the graphite, and the pencil responds to how hard I press.

There is something almost spiritual– or magical– about the play of pondering how something might look, and making it happen with a pen in hand. It’s about making something out of nothing. And about concentration, and wonder.

There is a hush about drawing. There is only the noise of implement on surface… the energy is focused entirely on what is being created at .25 millimeters wide.

And then there is the exuberance of sharing what I have done. In the case of Laura Harms’ weekly challenge, I also get to see other interpretations. They’re always an inspiration, a way of seeing that there are infinite possibilities in whatever challenge we take on.

This week, Laura challenged us with a duotangle, using only two tangles: bunzo and auraknot. I was having so much fun with them, I did two tiles. For the first, I decided not to fill in the usual bunzo stripes, leaving an all-over linear field.


In the second, I wanted to weave the two tangles together, so they were intertwined.


I hope you’ll consider joining the challenge, if you haven’t already.