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A Pattern Puzzle for You

A Pattern Puzzle for You

The Zentangle Method is all about patterns. We call our patterns "tangles."

We teach simple ways to draw and enjoy these patterns, these tangles, by putting pen to paper in fun and easy ways.

There are also patterns all around us. But sometimes they are not as easy to see - perhaps because you don't look for a pattern; perhaps because you don't expect a pattern.

However, not all patterns are on a surface. Some patterns hide in history, some in behavior, some in seasons, some in ideas, some in the sky, and some even in other patterns.

In this puzzle, a pattern is in the pictures.

Bijou and Alfie conspired with Rick to place a pattern in plain sight in the pictures for our recent Twelve Days of Zentangle.

Can you find the pattern?

We will leave the blog comments hidden for about a week to give you a chance to comment. Bijou and Alfie tell me there will be two prizes awarded:

  • One, for first one who identifies the pattern (deconstructing it, so to speak), and

  • Two, for the one who most completely describes the elements in the pattern

We don't know what the prize will be . . . that's something Bijou and Alfie are still working on, but it should be pretty awesome because they are quite excited about this game.

[It's been a week and we've finished our puzzle guesses. Please go to the end of this blog to see all the comments of those who identified the pattern.

Please note that the comments are in reverse time order, the most recent is first.

If your name is one of the prize winners, please email your snail mail address to]

Here are all the pictures. 



Be sure to post your ideas in the comments below. Remember - all comments will be kept hidden for about a week to give you a chance to comment. 

Have fun with all this!


Rick writes:

Thank you all for playing along with this puzzle. Below are all the responses from commenters who identified and described the pattern I put in the series of photos.

Many people found other patterns of which I was not aware. This happens more and more in our lives and perhaps also in yours. Or perhaps more accurately, each of us is becoming aware of synchronicities that have been there all along. Just like when someone first learns the Zentangle Method, “I see patterns!” is the familiar refrain. The patterns were always there. But now you are aware of them as patterns.

Initially, we planned two prizes, one for the first to identify the pattern and one for the most complete description of the pattern elements. We have since added a few more categories such as a random drawing and a few special mentions.


  • First to find the pattern - Mary Margaret Yahnke
    (who also identified many of the pattern elements)

  • Most complete description of the pattern elements (The only ones to notice the number of bead board lines on Day 10):
     - Debbie Rabb
     - Margaret Bremner

  • For suggesting we also do a drawing for names - Susie Brosonski
    Thank you, Susie!

  • Words of the pattern to sing along with the 12 Days of Christmas - Susan Cirigliano:

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
    Twelve Tumbling Santas
    Eleven Pen Nibs Resting
    Ten Clock Hands Striking
    Nine Books for Reading
    Eight Lenses Looking
    Seven Objects Reflecting
    Six Tortillions a Dancing ( in tiny deft clogs)
    Five Elves Caroling
    Four Carved Santas
    Three Matryoshka Ladies
    Two Tobasco Minis
    And a Serpent in a Glass Tube! 

  • Individual who found the most things that I didn’t consciously put in the picture - Cori A Levinson (and Margaret Bremner again, but she already got a prize!)

  • Three randomly chosen names:
    • Lucinda Mathews
    • Liz Gatehouse
    • Susie Brosonski

Thank you again to all who participated.  Please enjoy reading the comments. Feel free to continue to comment.

My idea behind this game was to create an example of what you might discover as you open your awareness to the possibility of finding patterns where you might not expect them. Recently I’ve become fascinated in seeing patterns repeat throughout history and discovering that there is more going on that I ever was taught.

The Zentangle Method can be a tool to enable your individual creativity and unique imaginative perspective to contribute to creation in a manner that no one else has, can, or ever will.


For the record, the items that I consciously put in the photos were:

  1. Candle
  2. Tabasco jars
  3. Nesting dolls
  4. Carved Santas
  5. Carolers (the other three are in the band)
  6. Shoes, 6 tortillions, 6 large containers, 6 small containers, 6-sided ornament
  7. Tumbling Santas, “7” facet highlighted
  8. Magnifying glasses
  9. Books
  10. 10 o’clock, 10 bead board grooves
  11. Pens
  12. Tumbling Santas



  • I’m so excited to have answered first. While the 12 Days of Zentangle were progressing I thought I noticed that pattern. So it took me only minutes to look back and respond. Thank you for creating the special challenge. How fun!

    Mary Margaret Yahnke on

  • I realized that I am a bit late to discover all of the fun patterns before the end of the contest. It still was great fun to
    find them all. In addition, I found 7 red jingle bells as well as a picture of Alfie in each photo wearing his curly-que hat with stripes…many photos included the hat in various positions. Also, I believe that there were many inclusions of Bijou in various forms. Thanks so much for creating this fun puzzle for all of us! Kudos to so many who figured it out…particularly with singing to 12 days of Christmas! And, Happy New Year to all!

    Harriet Meltzer on

  • I feel a little embarrassed to admit this, but I spent many peaceful minutes gazing at the photos convinced I could see spirals in the arrangements. Spirals that would lead to a focal point, often Alfie. I was sure that was the ‘pattern’. I never thought to count the items!

    Jem Miller on

  • OMG – some of us really are not bright or don’t pay enough attention.
    I was trying to find the same pattern in every picture. Hmmmmm!!!!!
    Need to “think outside the square”.
    Haha 🤔😂🤣😂

    Sue Angles on

  • My grasp of this puzzle is based on metaphoric images. Beginning with the first “slide” and following in sequence I will attempt to give my interpretation. This surely would be fun to sing… but I fear my singing voice is long gone.

    1. Enlightenment and inspir(al)ing – the candle flame and the ornament
    2. Flavor your world – the two hot sauce bottles – Indeed, this happens in the practice of tangling
    3. Three nesting dolls – fits with the bijouism “Come out of your shell” …wondering where my nesting dolls are???
    4. Four wooden carved Santas – there may be other elements of 4 in this slide…
    5. Santa Figures – For sure I see four Santas and a baby/toddler image playing a musical toy (that presently I can’t name) and an angel looking over it all. Lots of ‘discovery’ metaphor in this image.
    6. Six tortillons, and six miniature Dutch shoes
    7. Seven shiny (reflect) red bells
    8. A marvelous assortment of eight magnifiers fitting with Bijous “Focus”
    9. Nine books of great variety…especially moved by the “Expect Miracles” …. wonderful!! Bijou says “relax” and read more (I say)!
    10. The clock is striking 10:00 —-time to appreciate!
    11. Eleven assorted pens (What an intriguing assortment) fits the Bijouism of Breathe/Inspire
    12. Twelve Santas in different poses “Choose your tangles”
    It’s fun to see the many different appearances of the mini Santas…you have such precious treasures. Thanks for sharing with this creative puzzle.

    Judith Shamp on

  • This might be too late to enter…. but I’ll give it a try!

    The pattern is that there is an element in each picture that corresponds (numerically) with the “Day” of Christmas. For example, on the first day of christmas there is is one ornament (seen in the glass jar), the second photo (second day) has two mini hot sauce bottles, etc.

    1st – 1 christmas ornament
    2nd – 2 bottles of hot sauce
    3rd – 3 russsian nesting dolls
    4th – 4 carved santas
    5th – 5 Santa figures
    6th – 6 tortillion stubs
    7th – 7 tangle paper rolls? or the dice showing the 7? or 7 plastic santas (hard to count in picture)
    8th – 8 lenses/magnifiying glasses
    9th – 9 books
    10th – 10 o’clock? or 10 ornaments on the tree ?
    11th – 11 speedball pens (I think that’s what they are)
    12th – 12 little santas


    Gina Staley on

  • On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

    12. Tumbling Santas
    11. Pen Nibs Resting
    10. Clock Hands Striking
    9. Books for Reading
    8. Lenses Looking
    7. Objects Reflecting
    6. Tortillions a Dancing ( in tiny deft clogs)
    5. Elves Caroling
    4. Carved Santas
    3. Matryoshka Ladies
    2. Tobasco Minis
    And a Serpent in a Glass Tube…

    Susan Cirigliano on

  • No.1- each photo has the number of items per day of 12 days of Zentangle.
    No 2 Day1-One long thin ornament., Day 2 Two mini Tabasco bottles, Day3 3 Matrshka dolls, Day4 4 Santa Sticks, Day 5 -5 Holiday jolly old elves, Day 6 6 Delft shoes & 6 tortilons, Day 7 #7 on die, 7 tumbling Santas, 7 red jingle bells, Day 8 -8 magnifying lenses, Day 9 -9 books, Day 10 -clock set to 10 o’clock, Day 11 -11 pens, Day 12 -12 tumbling Santas. Every photo except first one included small Limoges oval box.

    Cindy Adler on

  • In each photo there are items equal to the number of the day:
    1) One candle, one tile, one clown-faced icicle, more?
    2) two hot sauce bottles
    3) three matryoshkas
    4) Four tiers of tumbling Santas, four Santa sticks, four tiles
    5) Ya got me here, I ain’t got nothin’. At first I thought five personages, but no, there are seven.
    6) Six clogs, six tortillons, and a hexagon
    7) Seven tumbling Santas, seven long beads on the red cord, ‘7’ on the icosahedron, seven letters in ‘reflect’, seven red metallic berries at the front – oh! they’re bells! And each of the largest gems on the FABULOUS golden mean finder has seven facets.
    8) Eight magnifying devices, eight Santas?
    9) Nine books
    10) It’s 10 o’clock, there are 10 pairs of stripes in the wall panelling at the back, 10 letters in the word ‘appreciate’, and each of the two-pronged branches carved into the fan has 10 sections.
    11) 11 pens and 11 pairs of stripes in the wall panelling
    12) 12 tumbling Santas, 12 pairs of stripes in the wall panelling (the second one is hidden). But what’s with the three clocks all showing nine minutes after 10???

    Re: Bijou’s thoughts: ‘Discover’ should have been on the eighth day and ‘Focus’ on the fifth. :)

    Margaret Bremner on

  • No.1- each photo has the number of items corresponding with each day of 12 days of Zentangle.
    No 2 Day1-One long thin ornament., Day 2 Two mini Tabasco bottles, Day3 3 Matrshka dolls, Day4 4 Santa Sticks, Day 5 Holiday jolly old elves, Day 6 6 Delft shoes & 6 tortillions, Day 7 Tumbling Santa’s & 7 Red Jingle Bells,and 7 tangle tile beads & 7 on die, Day 8 8 magnifying lenses, Day 9 9 books, Day 10 clock time is 10o’clock, Day 11 11 pens, Day 12 tumbling Santa’s. All Days except Day 1 had the Limoge box in the photo and of course Alfie.

    Cindy Adler on

  • The pattern I see is that for each day of the 12, there are that many objects surrounding Alphie—day 1, bead on his hat (or the ornament), day 2 Tabasco bottles, day three Matryoshka dolls, day 4 Santa “sticks”, day 5 Singers (including Alphie) day 6 tortillons, 7 tumbling Santa’s, 8 magnifying glasses, 9 books, 10 o’clock on the clock (I think, because I couldn’t count 10 of any certain object?), 11 calligraphy pens, 12 tumbling or standing Santa’s.

    Viveca Chenoweth on

  • Hello you clever folks!.

    how about 1burning candle,2 bottles of hot sauce,3 Russia nested dolls, 4 carved wooden Santas and 4 layers of gold boxes, 5 figures who seem to be caroling, 6 dutch shoes and 6 torttiones/blenders and 6-sided wooden game board/design on the wall, 7 jingle bell cherries and 7 Santas on the gold box, 8 concave glass looking pieces and 8 Santas, 9 books,10 o’clock, 11 calligraphy pens, 12 little playful Santas.

    Thanks for the distraction! colleen

    Colleen Wilcox on

  • Can I have a second guess? My first (the repeated china pill box as a common item) was in the middle of the night :). In progressing pictures: 1 candle; 2 bottles of hot sauce; 3 nested dolls; 4 wooden Santas stuck in vase; 5 figurines; 6 paper stumps, or 6 “wooden” shoes; 7 – the number on the die, also 7 Santas, 7 red balls; 8 “glasses” (magnifiers, etc.); 9 books; 10 o’clock on the clock; 11 pens; 12 little Santas.


  • It just dawned on me! Here’s the Pattern:
    1 CANDLE
    9 BOOKS
    11 PENS

    Jenny Perruzzi, CZT10 on

  • The pattern is the 12 days of christmas…

    Listed backwards they are:
    12 santas
    11 calligraphy pens
    10 is the time on the clock
    9 books for reading
    8 lenses for looking
    7 red bells? 7 on the die
    6 gray and blue stones or shoes also 6 tortions
    5 figurines
    4 santa or wiseman things sticking.out of the blue and white vase. (There are also 4 sides to a tile, regular and bijou)
    3 red Russian doll thingys that go inside each other
    2 hot sauce bottles
    1 candle in the foreground, 1 ornament thingy that Alfie is hanging on. One Alfie… lol

    Russell McDonald on

  • The pattern: each day has a set of props of the same type, the number of props in the set match the day number. The exception is Day ten—the number is represented in another way. Some days have 2 or 3 representations of their number.

    Day 1: that jester ornament with a coiled hat
    Day 2: the two mini Tabasco sauce bottles.
    Day 3: the three Russian nesting dolls
    Day 4: the 4 Santa carved stick things in the vase.
    Day 5: there are 4 Santa/Father Christmas figurines; if we include Alfie in the lineup, it makes 5 total figurines side by side.
    Day 6: Alfie is holding 6 tortillons AND there are 6 porcelain Dutch clogs lined up in front of him AND there is a wooden hexagonal ornament thing on the wall.
    Day 7: the number 7 on the die is clearly visible AND there are 7 tumbling Santas.
    Day 8: there are 4 tumbling Santas and 4 Santa ornaments, adding up to 8 Santas total.
    Day 9: there are a total of 9 books in the picture. 7 lined up on the left; one that bijou is reading, and another by Alfie.
    Day 10: the clock reads 10 o’clock
    Day 11: a total of 11 of Maria’s calligraphy pens; Alfie is dancing with the most fabulous one.
    Day 12: there are 12 tumbling Santas. Also, on both the clock and the watch, the time is set for 10:10—one hand at 10, one hand at 2. 10+2=12.

    Sarah Hluchy CZT 18 on

  • It’s the 12 days of Christmas song (be kind this is not my native language ☺)

    On the first day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : a genie Christmas ornament in a glass tube
    On the second day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 2 hot flavor sauces
    On the third day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 3 Russian dolls
    On the fourth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 4 Santa wooden clothing pin
    On the fifth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 5 Christmas figurines (Santa, St-Nicholas, baby Jesus, …)
    On the sixth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 6 tortillons (or Holland wooden shoes – clogs ? )
    On the seventh day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 7 red bells (grelots)
    On the eighth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 8 magnifying tools (loupe)
    On the ninth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 9 books to read
    On the tenth day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 10 o’clock on the grandfather clock
    On the eleventh day of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 11 writing tools (plumes)
    On the twelfth fay of Christmas Alfie gave to me : 12 happy Santa having fun !

    Jocelyne Archambault on

  • As a geocacher I love riddles.
    So thank you very much for this one.

    Well, you hide 12 Numbers in the pictures (as well as a small box out of porcellain):
    day 1: 1 Candle
    day 2: 2 tabasco bottles
    day 3: 3 matruschkas
    day 4: 4 wooden faces
    day 5: 5 puppets
    day 6; 6 tortillons (as well as 6 little shoes from holland)
    day 7; the 7 on a die (and 7 sides of the die)
    day 8: 8 magnifier
    day 9: 9 books
    day 10: 10 o clock
    day 11: 11 pens with a meatl fether
    day 12: 12 santas

    best regards, Nicole

    Nicole Lehmann, CZT Europe#1 on

  • Each day the images in the pictures correspond to the day number. In day one, there’s one Alfie, one candle, one tile. In day 2, there 2 sauces, two focal points (Alfie and the Santa starfish). Day 3, there are three matroishka (sp?) dolls. Day 4: four Santa pens. Day 5: santas … day 6 is my favorite (6 tortillions, hexagonal tile, 6 porcelain shoes…) and on.

    Katie Crommett on

  • Hmm, let’s see…the photo for each day has a corresponding number of elements, plus a few complementary additions.
    1. “One” portrayed in the wand, one ornament, one candle
    2. 2 bottles of Tabasco, Alfie is creating music (per “Create” Bijouism)
    3. “Come out of your shell” + a sea shell; 3 nesting dolls (which are also a type of shell)
    4. 4 wood carvings in the vase. Also, “Savor” and there are edibles to savor: pomegranate seeds, boxes of candy, and honey.
    5. 5 figures besides Alfie
    6. 6 tortillions; 6 shoes
    7. 7 on the die; 7 Santas; 2 reflections, per “Reflect”
    8. 8 lenses; “Focus” under a lens
    9. “Relax” and Alfie is tangling and there are 9 books for relaxing, I presume
    10. 10 o’clock; “Appreciate” and that’s what Alfie is doing
    11. 11 pens
    12. 12 Santas (not inc. tree ornaments); 10 after 10 o’clock in the clocks- 10+2=12

    And, at least one snail in every photo plus at least one Bijou tile, except for the first one which has neither.

    That was fun! Thank you! I look forward to reading what others have spotted.

    Wishing everyone a happy 2021!
    Donna Guy

    Donna Guy on

  • The pattern puzzles found relate to the number day of each Zentangle “lesson”. Each of the twelve days of Zentangle reveal the corresponding items in the vignettes. They are as follows:
    Day 1 – single ornament in fluted glass piece, one candle & one pin (?) that Alfie is holding.
    Day 2 – 2 Tabasco sauce bottles & 2 picture frames
    Day 3 – 3 Russian nesting dolls & 3 shells (snail, conch and “Shell” on tile)
    Day 4 – 4 carved Santa heads & 4 gold round boxes
    Day 5 – 5 singers (The Quintessential Quality Quintet)
    Day 6 – 6 Tortillions & 6 porcelain shoes/clogs
    Day 7 – the #7 on Icosahedron, 7 cherries/apples in front of dice, 7 tumbling Santas
    Day 8 – 8 magnifiers
    Day 9 – 9 Books
    Day 10 – 10:00 on the clock & 10 vertical lines in the wood panel background
    Day 11 – 11 Calligraphy pens & 11 vertical lines in the paneling
    Day 12 – 12 tumbling Santas, 12 vertical lines in the paneling & the Shadow of the minute hand, on both clocks, is on the
    2… 2 +10 = 12.

    The 12 days were great and this was a fun game to top everything off. Happiest of New Years to all at Zentangle HQ.

    Debbie Rabb on

  • In keeping with the theme of the twelve days of Christmas, I believe the pattern follows the same idea with certain numbers of objects in the pictures starting with one object in the top picture, two of the same objects in the second picture, three of the same objects in the third picture, four in the fourth picture and so on down until there are twelve of the same things in the bottom picture.

    As to the objects, the top picture has many of just one thing but I am going to choose the candle because it stands out and Christmas is the season of light.
    Second picture=2 jars of Tabasco sauce
    Third picture=3 nesting dolls
    Fourth picture=4 Santas with the long pointed beards in the holes of the vase
    Fifth picture=The chimney Santa is in is made of 5 layers of bricks
    Sixth picture=Allie is holding 6 tortillons
    Seventh picture=There are 7 red bells on the table
    Eighth picture=There are 8 white squares on the handle of the magnifying glass
    Ninth picture=There is a total of 9 books in the picture altogether
    Tenth picture=Tough one, if it has to be objects then it’s 10 letters in the word “appreciate” but it
    sure was tempting to choose the clock that said 10 o’clock
    Eleventh picture=11 pointed pens
    Twelfth picture=12 ceramic santas, 8 on the floor, one in the box, one on the snail, and one on
    each clock

    Thanks for a very fun puzzle! I could watch each of you draw all day! Your pens just flow and go places mine won’t. Ha. Ah, some day.

    Cindy Dove on

  • Each of the pictures for the 12 days of Zentangle for 2020 has the number of that post represented in the picture.
    Day 1: One central Christmas Decoration, one elf, one candle, one featured Zentangle. (A singularly nice display.)
    Day 2: Two bottles of hot sauce, two apples on the tree.
    Day 3: Three nesting dolls, three Bijous (Snails).
    Day 4: Four Carved Santa heads nestled in the pottery.
    Day 5: Five figures lined up including Alfie singing.
    Day 6: Six Tortillons, six Dutch Shoes, six gift packages, six-sided trivet on the wall.
    Day 7: Seven Tumbling Santas, Seven on the die, seven red bells.
    Day 8: Eight Santas (4 on tree, 3 tumbling, 1 in loupe), 8 Magnifying Loupes.
    Day 9: Nine Books.
    Day 10: Time on the clock is Ten (Ten past Ten is the most pleasing location of the hands on a clock for photography. Or so I have heard.)
    Day 11: Eleven Calligraphy Pens.
    Day 12: Twelve Tumbling Santas.
    I love your tangles and projects packs, please keep them coming.

    Judy Grimes on

  • Ok, I’m not sure if I have this right, but the numbers of things are increasing. In the first picture, there is one ornament in the tube. In the second picture, there are two bottles of tabasco. In the third picture, there are three Russian dolls. In the fourth picture there are four wooden Santa heads. In the fifth picture there are five Santas. In the sixth picture, Alfie is holding six pencil stumps. In the seventh picture there is a dice with a 7 facing forwards. In the eight picture there are eight Santas. In the ninth picture there are nine books. In the tenth picture, the clock is at 10 o’clock. In the 11th picture there are 11 pens. In the 12th picture there are 3 clocks set to 12 o’clock.

    Gab on

  • I found three patterns, sorta. Day One seems to be an anomaly and contains neither of the first two.

    The first is a little oval box with a pink rose painted or enameled on the top and a garland design painted around the side. It consistently appears, though on Day Ten the box is open and the top cannot be seen. On another day, the top is only visible through a magnifying glass. (Very sneaky!)

    Second, your little snail critter appears on a Bijou tile at least once in every picture, along with at least one snail sculpture.

    Third, the number of the day is represented in some way in each picture. In reverse order:
    Day 12 – twelve tumbling Santa figurines
    Day 11 – eleven calligraphy pens
    Day 10 – the clock is set to 10 o’clock
    Day 9 – nine books
    Day 8 – eight magnifying glasses, including some sneaky jewelers’ loupes
    Day 7 – seven Santas on the gold box, the number 7 on the die faces forward, and there may be seven sleigh bells in front of the die.
    Day 6 – 6-sided plaque on the wall, 6 tortillions, 6 Dutch shoes
    Day 5 – Alfie standing in a row of five St. Nicholas figurines. (I’m not counting the baby doll, who may be the musician for these “carolers”)
    Day 4 – four wooden Santas in the blue and white doohickie, a stack of four boxes on the left, four tumbling Santas couldn’t fit on those boxes, four-sided pyramid on lower right, and Maria’s Zentangle features four tubular tangles
    Day 3 – three Russian nesting dolls, three sleigh bells emerging from the shell
    Day 2 – two bottles of Tabasco, two round balls on the tree.
    Day 1 – one candle; one long, skinny ornament stuck in the vase; Alfie is holding one “scepter” and the black and white pendant hangs from his hat a bit like the number one. (Yeah, that’s a stretch.)

    Susan Bertke on

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