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Chop, Chop!

Chop, Chop!

Rick writes:
In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

Today, we invite you to revisit this post from 2020...

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Kirsten asks, “So many Chops! I feel like mine changes too much. Have you done a class or blog on developing our Chop? I would love to spend some time with Zentangle Chops.”

Thanks, Kirsten. Great question.

First, let’s explain the chop. From Wikipedia: “. . . in an East and Southeast Asian context, [a chop] is a general name for printing stamps and impressions thereof which are used in lieu of signatures in personal documents, office paperwork, contracts, art, or any item requiring acknowledgement or authorship.”

As part of step seven of the eight-step Zentangle Method, you put your chop on the front of your tile to identify yourself as the creator and to take ownership of your creation. Some create chops with their initials. Some create unique icons or symbols. In the non-representational spirit of tangling, you only put your chop on the front of your tile. The back is for your name, date and other info like the place or a special event.

Now, for your question.

I love that your chop changes a lot. What you might think of as uncertainty, you can also interpret as searching and testing. For example, when you try on shoes to find the perfect pair, you do not think that you should not have tried on the ones you didn’t buy. Nor do you think that this is the last and only pair of shoes you will wear.

If you are like most people, you already are known by different names. Using Maria as an example – with our grandchildren, I call her Mèmè; with our children, Mum; with our friends, Maria; and when we are alone, Babe.

I suggest that you see yourself as your own work of art – one that proceeds in a Zentangle way, one stroke at a time. According to many traditional cultures, you transform your name as you transform yourself. Certainly, it makes sense to change your chop.

Your "given" name may be static, but you are not static. A chop is a great icon to change as you change. It makes sense that you will change it more often in the beginning as you begin to catch up with all the changes you’ve been through so far. 

Approach your changing chop as yet another part of a process for you to enjoy. Again, in keeping with the shoe analogy, you can enjoy trying on different shoes even if you don’t buy any.

Here is a sampling of how Maria’s my chops have changed through the years


To see how we incorporate our chops into our tangles, search through our tiles on the Zentangle Mosaic app (No charge to search images on the app)

I asked Maria her thoughts on this and she replied, 

“In creating your chop, you can explore different combinations of the initials in your name. Use one, two or three or more if you have them. Or, none at all. Your chop can be a symbol or icon that you create. 

Start by playing around with two initials. Stack them, reverse them, rotate them and “glue” them together in different ways. You can encase them:

“It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but you.”

"Use scripts if that appeals to you."

"Look up famous logos and monograms and get inspired by ones that 'speak' to you. I don't mean to copy them; but maybe one little thing about it stands out, even something as simple as a line under a letter."

"Play like it is your job! But remember you will be using it often so "KISS" (Keep It Simple Sweety)."

As an example, Maria combined “A” with each letter of the alphabet:

Maria created artwork for our upcoming online Zentangle CZT Seminar, November 8-10, 2020. Here's a partial peek:

Monet's words apply as much to ourselves as to any thing or narrative we might encounter. And in the context of this blog, "Zentangle: see for yourself!" could just as easily read, "Zentangle: See yourself!"

Thank you again for asking that question. We look forward to seeing the next version of your chop.


With best regards,




Norman Rockwell changed his signature every time he signed a painting!


Rick Roberts


  • I enjoyed your information about chops and Maria’s beautiful drawings and chops. I have pretty much used the same chop since I became a CZT back in 2013. I really like it but I might just try something different some time and maybe I will like that too. Thanks for the great blog as usual!

    Barbara Burgess, CZT 12 on

  • thx. So helpful ; )

    carol parry on

  • Great blog again :-D

    ArjadLH on

  • Wonderful explanation of chops and the changing style they will sometimes go through. My school students have always loved coming up with their chop. We spend some time talking about them and playing with letters and styles when I first introduce them to Zentangle. It has become a mini lesson of sorts on typography. Love the sneak peak of the piece for the upcoming seminar and hope that we all will be able to see the whole piece!

    Kate Ahrens on

  • This is something I will try. I am a calligraphist with the Philadelphia Calligraphy Society. I’ll share.

    Elaine on

  • I am relieved to know that chop-changing is ‘normal.’ I am teaching a “Tea N Tangles” class on Thursdays and I will remind my students of this opportunity to visit the blog and gain some understanding of the chop and the value of exploring new identities.

    Annie Sargent, CZT (33) on

  • Very interesting point! Thanks Rick 💚

    Love you explained us the definition for “chop”. It will be easy for me to explain it to my students!
    I’ll give it a thought to develope a new chop for me… I only have 3 😄😄

    MAria TOvar CZT on

  • I agree with everyone today – a great post with wonderfully informative and inspiring information! Thanks, Rick!

    Shawna Oertley on

  • Very helpful! I never understood what.word Rick was actually using when he spoke of “chop.” Seeing the definition & the illustrations show that mine is just fine. Thank you!

    Amy Gill on

  • Thanks for this blog, again with a lot of ideas:-)and inspiration. Can’t wait to play with chops and my initials.

    stella Peters-Hessels on

  • Love this Blog! I love the idea of the chop changing because it has just happened as I have tangled. Maria, the examples you gave at the end are really helpful! Already have a new chop! Thank you!

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • - another timely insight…oh the days i’ve spent trying to figure out how to incorporate my 3 initials into a chop…to think I can “make it simple” …and open my self to possibilities…ah ZEN TANGLE!

    Thank you!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • This is not the first time I’ve heard Rick and Maria explain the chop, but maybe one of the best explanations yet. Love the quote by Monet. Thanks for always putting a fresh spin on things.

    Jody Genovese on

  • So wonderful. Sometimes it is hard to remember that one thing we can be sure of is change. How nice to see how important change is to our practice of Zentangle.

    Georgianna Klein, CZT11 on

  • Fantastic blog post today! Your insights will be so helpful in explaining the chop to my students who sometimes get “hung up” on what they view as having such permanency – thank you!


    Heather Moffatt on

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