square grid elements

On June 1, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts introduced us to a new idea in their newsletter and on the Zentangle blog. It’s a simple idea: start with a square. In the square, you draw what they call a grid seed. Then you repeat! The fun happens as you see the lines and shapes that unfold when your squares sit next to each other in a grid.

Rick and Maria offer us 50 grid seeds. You can use them as-is, or alter them, or make up your own. I really like this! So did diva Laura Harms, who incorporated it into her weekly challenge 122.


In my first tile (above), I wanted to try out a bunch of grid seeds. I used Maria’s F-3 and F-4, tangellations of A-5 and I-2, one I created myself, and tossed in some knightsbridge and paradox, which are grid-based all on their own.


I really liked the pattern that sprouts and interrelates within the grid using F-3, so I used it again, this time (above) altering the grid so it appears to wrap around a cylindrical form. I also used punzel, auraknot, and tipple.

diva122-3Finally, in the bottom left area I decided to separate the grid squares (there’s F-3 again), and added another grid seed with some radiating spokes, and used paradox, hollibaugh, leaflet, shattuck, and krli q’s on the rest of the tile.

I think this grid seed idea really opens up a lot of possibilities!


left to my own devices

Focus, frame, string, fill, shade, and sign. I can’t remember where I read this condensed list of the steps to create a Zentangle, but it stuck with me (and it’s easier to remember than the more in-depth lists out there. And, for me, it’s a perfect, no-nonsense way to proceed. Here are some recent tiles I did when I was not responding to a challenge or a chapter in a book.

I don’t really have a notion of what tangles I’m going to use when I sit down and draw a string. Often I want to try new ones, so I usually begin with those. In the first tile, I wanted to try vigne, by Sue Jacobs, so I started with that (I varied it a little). That suggested plant-like forms to me, so I followed with punzel, chillon with a little flower in each square, and an old favorite, flux, with tipple in between the leaves.

Hibred, onamato, striping, and kitchener became a sort of backdrop to the leaf forms. Because those are more familiar to me, they are more likely to pop into my head when an area is suggested by the string.


Another combination of old and new happened in the tile, below. I wanted to try an interesting shape for the string, one I’ve used in drawings here and there, incorporating elongated tube forms on either side of a lightly curving central line. I wanted to try 8’s, by Jane Eileen Malone. Again, the new was balanced by old favorites that came along as I worked: indy-rella, purk, striping, knightsbridge, tripoli, sand swirls, printemps, and nipa.


I haven’t done a lot of Zendala tiles, but definitely want to try more. I like the blank tiles the best so far, because I can choose how much symmetry I want to incorporate. In this Zendala, I use a tangellation of hibred and knase, deelight, shing, eye-wa, and lotus pods.



letting a tangle get under your skin

Remember learning how to button up your shirt? Tying your shoes? Riding a bike? Serving a tennis ball? You did it over and over and over until it became fluid and natural. So too, with Zentangle patterns. Keep going. Your first try might be a little wobbly, but as you practice, in a sketchbook or on tiles, you start to understand how you need to move your fingers to get into a tangle’s rhythm.

Case in point: The diva’s challenge 121 was to use Mary Kissel’s birds on a wire tangle. My first try was all about learning the motions. The tile itself is a little bit like a patchwork quilt; a bit of everything, arranged in squares and rectangles. You can tell that I was uncomfortable with the new tangle.


In addition to birds on a wire, I used sláinte, hibred, onamato, knightsbridge, kitchener, and groovy, comfortable favorites.

So, I decided to keep going. This time, I was able to add some variation to the birds on a wire. I also was able to let go and follow the string, going with what felt right in the moment, and in that magical Zentangle way, I got into the focused groove. I think the results are much more powerful.


Tangles here are birds on a wire, deelish, ynix, meer, mooka, striping, quandary, and a strip of facets.