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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 believe you have done a spin-off of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with hidden things for each day.

    Day 1 one ornament
    Day 2 two tiny bottles of hot sauce
    Day 3 three nesting dolls
    Day 4 four carved Santa’s in the special pot
    Day 5 five carolers
    Day 6 six tiny Dutch shoes or six tortillons
    Day 7 seven red bells or #7 on the die or seven tumbling Santa’s
    Day 8 eight magnifying loops
    Day 9 nine books
    Day 10 time on the clock (10 o’clock)
    Day 11 eleven drawing pens
    Day 12 twelve tumbling Santa’s

    I have really enjoyed drawing along with everyone with Project Pack 12. Happy New Year to you all!

    Sally Lepley on

  • In the content for each day you give a “clue” as to what the hidden item is and the theme is pretty consistent, if I’m looking at these correctly. What fun, either way! Day 1, Alfie is holding a sphere. The ornament that is in the lamp globe or whatever he’s sitting on, is basically the same shape that his hat is, a gentle spiral and has gold on it. Also the dotted, black and white dangle on his tassel is similar to the “dots” on the bronx spears. Alfie is atop 1 lamp globe, there is 1 ornament, 1 spear, 1 tile, 1 candle.

    Day 2 – Alfie’s hat is shaped like the “gold” object in the framed artwork behind him. Yes, the spice bottles are to “create” your own flavor. Alfie is creating his own music. There are 2 bottles.

    Day 3- The big conch? “shell” and the bijou tile has a small & large shell Bijou, has he come out? Alfie’s hat is twisted in a spiral “shell.” The Bijou on the conch shell is “coming out” of the shell and the Bijou on the conch shell has a “gold” tone to it. The nesting dolls have also “come out” of the larger one. More importantly there are 3 dolls.

    Day 4- “Savor”-ing the pomegranate seeds. The stack to Alfie’s right are primarily gold and no doubt have plenty of sweets to “savor” along with the golden honey hive. The big gold gift wrapped box that the hive is sitting on. Multiple triangle or stacked pyramid shapes. Alfies’hat is curled/swirled as seen in the bijou tile. 4 carved santas and 4 layers of the stacked gold/striped round boxes.

    Day 5- Discover what is in the wrapped package :) I like the tangle on the big Bijou. Alfie has changed his pants or is that Dolly’s feathers obstructing the view? Two Bijou’s in the tile. Quintet – clever!

    Day 6-Gold in the golden flux tangle ribbon. The gold foil bag design is similar to the hexagon wooden decor to its right. Six sided. 6 delft shoes. Six stumps. Six ribbons.

    Day 7- Reflection – the two most obvious are Alfie and Bijou reflected in the mirrors. Also, the golden ratio calipers “mirror” or reflect the same design on one side of the caliper as the do on the other. Gold frame, on top of gold top package. Hello, Rick and Maria, I see you! Day 7 – 7 reflections.

    Day 8- 8 items that bring objects into an enlarged “focus” for us?

    Day 9- Relax. Easy circular patterns. The framed tile, circle patterns. Alfie’s hat circled up. Bijou only his circular body sticking out of the book, the circular shape of the baseball. The circle handles on the Etch A Sketch. Day 9, 9 books.

    Day 10- The large blue fan, with fan line repeats on the fan. Alfie’s hat bent “fan”-ish. Turning the tile “this way and that” and looking for new possibilities underneath the surfaces. Day 10 and 10:00 on the clock face.

    Day 11- 11 calligraphy pens. Love the little bijou on the ink well.

    Day 12- 12 dancing santa characters. clocks are all set the same. 12 elements from the previous days. The white snail with the circular tangle, the clocks, the decorated tree, the bijou snail lower left, the jewelry trinket box, the clear glass ball for magnification, the two stacked gold round savor boxes, the silver/pewter item, the green/turquoise pen holder, the angel wings, the jingle bell garland, tangle tile and thank you, Alfie, Bijou, Rick, Maria, Martha and Molly. What fun!!!!

    Karen on

  • Each photo represents one of the 12 days. 1 ornament,

    2 tabasco bottles, 3 nesting dolls, 4 wooden pencil santas, 5 figurines, 6 dutch shoes/ 6 tortillons 7 santa figures, 8 santas, 9 books, 10 time on clock, 11 pens & 12 little santas.

    Cheryl Bailes on

  • 1 candle or ornament 2 jars of tabasco or apples on tree 3 nesting dolls, 4 carved santas, 5 carollers

    6 tortillions, 7 on die, 8 magnifying glasses, 9 books, 10 o’clock, 11 pen nibs 12 posing santas.

    Such a clever puzzle.

    April Davidson on

  • The pattern is related to numbers for each day of the 12 days of Zentangle (which I loved participating in):

    2 bottles of tabasco
    3 Babushka dolls
    4 Santa claus heads
    5 Carolers
    6 Tortillons
    7 the number on the die
    8 magnifying tools
    9 books
    10 on the clock
    11 pen nibs
    12 10+2 on the clock = 12

    Carolina Peters on

  • For the 12 days of Christmas, each photo illustrates one of the twelve days. For example, in the sixth day photo, Alfie is holding 6 tortillons and there are 6 blue and gray decorated “stones” in the foreground. On the seventh day, there is a 7 on the die and seven jingle bells in the foreground. On day 4, there are four long-faced Santas on the right side of the photo.

    Becky on

  • Please do a random draw of correct answers since not everyone received this fun challenge at the same time. The pattern is that the number of focal items increases by 1 each day. There is 1 candle and 1 hooka, 2 tabasco sauce bottles, 3 Russian nesting dolls, 4 Santa head pens, 5 singing santa figures and baby, 6 dutch clogs, 6-sides tile with 6 points and 6 tortillons, 7 on the die and 7 santa figurines playing on the floor, 8 magnifiers, 9 books 7 together, Expect Miracles, and the handmade one with the rainbow cover, 10:00 is the time on the clock, 11 calligraphy pens with nibs,12 small santa figurines and the bijouism is 12.

    Susie Brosonski on

  • The pattern is that the number of focal items increases by 1 each day. There is 1 candle and 1 hooka, 2 tabasco sauce bottles, 3 Russian nesting dolls, 4 Santa head pens, 5 singing santa figures and baby, 6 dutch clogs, 6-sides tile with 6 points and 6 tortillons, 7 on the die and 7 santa figurines playing on the floor, 8 magnifiers, 10:00 is the time on the clock, 11 calligraphy pens with nibs,12 small santa figurines and the bijouism is 12.

    Susie Brosonski on

  • For each of the twelve days there are the appropriate number of random objects insertein the photo of the day. These objects vary from day to day…everything from two tabasco sauces, three Russian dolls…to numbers of callighapht pens (11) and tumbling, modern appearing Santas (12).

    If you like, I can go back and prepare a list of all 12 of the objects presented. The four cited above were those I remembered off hand. The idea/riddle though was that of artistically jamming the varying objects in, in the number appropriate to the day.

    Fun! Thank you.

    Lynne koliha on

  • Oh this is such a wonderful puzzle! I hope I got all of the elements, but I’m fairly certain that I likely didn’t. So,,….. here’s my list:

    On each and every day, Alfie and Bijou show up (although each and every Bijou is different!) On each day the beautiful little rice-shaped pill box is there. And on each day, the number of items corresponds to the Tile day. As shown:

    Day 1: One ornament
    Day 2: Two bottles of Tabasco
    Day 3: Three Russian Dolls
    Day 4: Four Santa’s in the little blue vase, Four gold wrapped boxes
    Day 5: Five carolers singing their song
    Day 6: Six little porcelain Dutch clogs, a hexagon tile and six tortillons
    Day 7: Seven little Santas, Seven beads on the string, 7 on the icosohedron
    Day 8: Eight orbs or circle shapes, Eight Santas
    Day 9: Nine books, Nine stripes on Alfie’s hat, Nine stripes on Bijou’s book
    Day 10: 10 O’clock on the clock, ten ornaments on the tree
    Day 11: Eleven drawing pens
    Day 12: Twelve little porcelain Santas. I’m a bit lost on the significance of the three timepieces showing the time @ 10:08. Hmmm it is to ponder…..Aha! 3+1+8= 12! Is that it?

    Well this was definitely a fun distraction. Thank you and I do hope I did well….LOL

    Happy New Year to Everyone in the Zentangle family!!!


    LovelyRita on

  • My vision is not great, so not always sure of what I’m seeing but this is clearly

    The Twelve Days of Zentangle, Christmas, Rick, Alfie and Bijou –
    The first has one Santa? in the vase, one candle and Alfie all by himself
    The second is two bottles of hot sauce?
    The third is three Russian nesting dolls
    The fourth is four wooden Santas
    The fifth is Alfie and Bijou with five “friends”
    The sixth is six tortions and six dutch shoes
    The seventh is seven beads, seven tumbling Santas and a seven on the die
    The eighth is eight magnifiers
    The ninth is nine books
    The tenth is 10 o’clock on the clock (but I suspect Rick has something else hidden there)
    The eleventh is eleven of Maria’s pens
    The twelfth is twelve tumbling Santas and the hands on the two clocks and watch all point to 12 and 2 = 12

    All have been created with great detail and I have enjoyed looking at all the pictures and the comments from from Alfie , Bijou, Rick and Maria each day were always fun and put a huge smile on my face. Thank you all. Apologies to Rick for all the extra details that my eyes missed!

    Claire on

  • Happy New Year to the wonderful team at Zentangle HQ!

    The pattern I see in the pictures is that each day has a special element equal in number to that of the title – ie. One element on the 1st day of Christmas, 2 elements pictured on the 2nd day and so on.
    Day 1: 1 Fanciful, over-the-top Hat.
    Day 2: 2 Spice bottles to flavour your world!
    Day 3: 3 Babushka dolls, out of their shells!
    Day 4: 4 timber Santa totem-like ornaments, strong symbols of Christmas.
    Day 5: 5 Carolers, The Quintessential Quality Quintet!
    Day 6: 6 Tortillions clutched to Alfie’s heart!
    Day 7: 7 Tumbling Santas.
    Day 8: 8 Points of Focus!
    Day 9: 9 Books to read and relax!
    Day 10: 10 O’clock on the clock, time to Appreciate!
    Day 11: 11 beautiful pens – remember to breathe & relax your grip!
    Day 12: 12 Tumbling Santas present Bijouism #12 – Choose Your Tangles!
    Whether I am right or wrong, it has been a truly wonderful Project Pack. Thank you Rick & Maria & Zentangle! :)

    Kim Lechner on

  • The pattern truly is the 12 days of Christmas that each day has a set of objects in the picture based on the day.

    Day 1 – 1 Ornament
    Day 2 – 2 bottles of Tabasco
    Day 3 – 3 Russian stacking dolls
    Day 4 – 4 Wooden Santa’s with long beards
    Day 5 – 5 Figurines
    Day 6 – 6 ceramic clogs and 6 tortions
    Day 7 – 7 plastic Santas, 7 on the die as well, 7 objects reflecting in mirror
    Day 8 – 8 magnifying glasses
    Day 9 – 9 books
    Day 10 – 10 on the clock, 10 ornaments, 10 letters in Appreciate
    Day 11 – 11 pens
    Day 12 – 12 plastic Santas, all clocks are on 10 & 2 = 12

    Thank you again for sharing Zentangle with us!

    Stacey Walker on

  • Hi, what fun, it’s 12 days of objects in the pictures. In reverse order.

    12 Santas playing
    11 pens waiting
    10 on the clock
    9 books standing
    8 magnifying glasses looking
    7 on the dice for rolling
    6 tortillions smoothing
    5 carollers (gnomes / elves)
    4 Santas in the blue and white pot
    3 nesting dolls
    2 bottles of sauce
    And an antique looking ornament in a vase

    Sue Bailey on

  • I see a number pattern. From the first day to the 12th day, I see:
    1 candle (or ornament)
    2 bottles of tabasco
    3 matryoshka dolls
    4 long-faced Santas
    5 elves, including Alfie and Santa himself- the Jolly Old Elf!
    6 delft shoes
    7 shiny red jingle bells, or 7 tumbling santas!
    8 various magnifying glasses
    9 books
    10 little ornaments on the tiny tree
    11 of Maria’s lovely calligraphy pens
    12 tiny thumb-size tumbling Santas

    Bonnie Feather on

  • It’s an upside-down Artie-style 12 Days of Christmas

    1. Genie ornament
    2. Bottles of tobacco
    3. Nesting dolls
    4. Wooden Santas
    5. Elves
    6. Tortillions
    7. Shiny 7 on the die
    8. Magnifying glasses
    9. Books
    10. Ten O’clock
    11. Calligraphy pens
    12. Tumbling Santas
    So many fun things to discover by looking more carefully at these pictures! Thanks for all the peace, calm, and fun!

    Melanie Larson on

  • Text correction is not my friend….

    Increasing number of Items in order from 1 to 12
    Day 1: one elf
    Day 2: two sauce bottles
    Day 3: three Russian dolls
    Day 4: four wooden Santa’s in a vase
    Day 5: five figurines
    Day 6: six tortillions (and six porcelain Dutch clogs)
    Day 7: the number 7 on the dice and 7 little santas
    Day 8: 8 magnifying glasses
    Day 9: 9 books
    Day 10: 10 o’clock
    Day 11: 11 nibbed pens
    Day 12: 12 little plastic Santas.

    Xox Janet (thanks for that wonderful journey back through the 12 days of Christmas)

    Janet Johnson on

    Janet Johnson on

  • Items in order from 1 to 12

    Day 1: one elf
    Day 2: two sauce bottles
    Day 3: three Russian dolls
    Day 4: four wooden Santa’s in a vase
    Day 5: five figurines
    Day 6: six tortillions (and six porcelain Dutch clogs)
    Day 7: the number 7 on the dice and 7 little santas
    Day 8: 8 magnifying glasses
    Day 9: 9 books
    Day 10: 10 o’clock
    Day 11: 11 mined pens
    Day 12: 12 little plastic Santas.

    Xox Janet (thanks for that wonderful journey back through the 12 days of Christmas)

    Janet Johnson on

  • To celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the 12 days of Zentangle, there is one of something in the first photo, 2 in the second, 3 in the third, etc. up to 12. As examples, 6 tortillons and 6 ceramic Dutch shoes in the 6th, 7 red bells and 7 beads in the seventh, and 12 ceramic Santa’s for the 12th.

    Ginger Oppenheimer on

  • There are a number of similar items that correspond to the dat number. One ornament, two hot sauce bottles, three stacking dolls, four elongated santa faces, five friends with Alphie, six tortillions, seven red bells, eight magnifying glasses, nine books, ten o’clock eleven calligraphy pens ans tweleve santa figurines.

    Dorothy Erieau on

  • The pattern I see is that the number of the day of the 12 days is represented somewhere in the picture:

    - 1st day has 1 ornament
    - 2nd day has 2 Tabasco bottles
    - 3rd day has 3 matroyshka dolls
    - 4th day has 4 wooded santas (the bearded ones on the right)
    - 5th day has 5 singers in the quintet
    - 6th day has 6 Dutch clogs (and 6 tortillions)
    - 7th day has 7 tumbling santas and a “7” on the icosahedral die
    - 8th day has 8 magnifying glasses
    - 9th day has 9 books
    - 10th day has the clock set to 10 o’clock
    - 11th day has 11 pens
    - 12 day has 12 tumbling santas

    Sarah W. on

  • I really enjoy your creativity! But wait, there’s more! Thank you for adding such a sense of fun into our Zentangle community. I treasure being a part of it.

    So to the puzzle. Maybe it’s that each day there is something of interest that corresponds with the day number?

    Day 1 1 clown and 1 candle
    Day 2 2 bottles of Tabasco sauce
    Day 3 3 babushka dolls
    Day 4 4 wooden santas
    Day 5 5 of Alfie’s helpers
    Day 6 6 clogs and 6 tortillons
    Day 7 7 tumbling santas and 7 on the dice and 7 red bells
    Day 8 8 magnifying glasses
    Day 9 9 books
    Day 10 10 oclock on the clock
    Day 11 11 writing utensils
    Day 12 12 tumbling santas

    I noticed Bijou appears each day except the first day and then twice on the last day.

    Liz Gatehouse on

  • I hope this is what you meant when you wanted as many details as possible!
    12 Days of Christmas- numeric pattern
    1st Day- 1 lit candle (and 1 of whatever the item is that Alfie is sitting on and 1 of whatever Alfie is holding in his hand and 1 Alfie and 1 hat, 1 pair of pants, 1 sweater…)
    2nd Day- 2 jars Tabasco Sauce in front of the box in foreground AND 2 Bijous/snails- on Zentangle card and ceramic one AND 2 picture frames (top one only bottom edge visible AND 2 eyes/2 arms/2 legs/2 shoes/etc all on Alfie
    3rd Day- 3 Russian nesting dolls to the right of Alfie’s hat AND 3 shells and 3 dots in a row on the ornament handing from Alfie’s hat. Also 3 visible Santas
    4th Day- 4 Santa topped pens (I think that is what they are) sticking out of the blue porcelain piece bottom right AND 4 tiers of boxes on the left AND 4 tassels (if you count the one with three sections as a single tassel plus 2 under the celtic knot and one on Alfie’s hat)
    5th Day- 5 elements to Nativity scene [Angel (Gabriel), baby (Jesus) and three wise men]
    6th Day- 6 blue and white porcelain clogs bottom right AND Alfie holding 6 tortillons AND 6 gifts
    7th Day- 7 red bells on ground AND number 7 of the dodecahedron AND 7 little santas at base of the tree
    8th Day- 8 santas AND 8 magnifiers (6 facing us and 2 facing down so cannot see the magnification)
    9th Day- 9 books
    10th Day- 10:00 on clock
    11th Day- 11 calligraphy pens
    12th Day- 12 little santas not on the tree AND the number 12 on multiple clocks/watches
    I also noticed that in all the pictures except the first one, there is a decorative porcelain box with lid that appears.

    Cori A Levinson on

  • I can’t leave my work undone:
    To add to my earlier post today-
    5. Five hats (not counting Alfie’s)
    10. 10 o’clock on the timepiece
    We shall see…
    Happy New Year.
    Thank you for giving us all the gift of this beautiful, peaceful art.

    Mary Margaret Yahnke on

  • There are representative items indicating the number of the day during the 12 days.
    Day 1 one candle
    Day 2 two Tabasco bottles
    Day 3 three Matryoshka dolls
    Day 4 four carved wood sticks
    Day 5 five figures(except Alfie)
    Day 6 six tortillons , six shoes
    Day 7 seven santas
    Day 8 eight magnifiers
    Day 9 nine books
    Day10 ten o’clock
    Day11 eleven fountain pens
    Day12 twelve santas, bijouism no.12(choose your tangles)

    Thank you!

    Jiwon Park on

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