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Maria writes:

The other day, Rick and I were on our porch, enjoying talking with a friend. Of course, we ended up talking Zentangle. This gentleman was telling us about how his Zentangle practice was progressing. He was proud of what he had accomplished so far, and rightly so.  We got on the subject of how forgiving Zentangle art is, always giving us opportunities to create beyond what we had expected was possible that day.  

The Zentangle "no mistakes" philosophy is a gift that keeps on giving. We all can make so-called "mistakes" in our art (and in the art of life). As tanglers, we know enough to either put a tile aside for a while, or face it head on, figuring that there is always something (new?) we can do to make our creation sing . . . and perhaps sing even more beautifully than if that so-called "mistake" had not occured.

Speaking of which, Have you tried a bronx spear?  

I find this new(ish) tangleation of bronx cheer to be highly adaptive to many situations that call for "Creativity (Wo) Man" to put in an appearance.  Its elegantly elongated shape covers almost any faux pas that we might run into on any given day.  I cannot believe Mother Nature has not followed my lead here and created bronx spears for us all to enjoy.  Seems like such a duh!

Black raspberry on a stick.  mmmmmmmm.

Well, perhaps we should just try them out in black and white, on a tile, when the opportunity presents itself. But, wait!  Why wait? you can always enhance your practice by practicing this tangle before the emergency is in front of you. Just start a tile and when you get to a pause in the rhythm of your tangling, throw a (bronx) spear at it. It's as easy as that. You just might end up throwing spears willy-nilly all over the place.   

But seriously, folks, in my excitement about bronx spears, I got myself off topic. 

What I really wanted to tell you was that in that conversation with our friend about how Zentangle is forgiving,  we realized that it is also . . . for giving

"'Tis the season!" . . .right?

If you can part with your precious tiles, they do make amazing gifts just in and of themselves. A simple tile: no frame, no froufrou. The simple act of giving of yourself.

Try it.

It's a beautiful thing.


Maria Thomas


  • Maria, in 2010 at the training you gave us this technique to cover up a boo boo! I thought it was great!!!❤️

    Deanna Williford, CZT 3 on

  • I give Zentangled bookmarks and cards away all the time. It feels so good to share. It also opens the door to talk about it with people. I’m finding that more and more people have heard of it and some that have tried it. I live in North Dakota and I don’t know how CZTs are here. I’m not a CZT ….would love to be one day, but am always happy to share some of the techniques and resources to stimulate interest, when people ask. The giving is as contagious as the techniques and process itself.

    Caron on

  • Mis stroke or not, bronx cheer or spear are alway fun. Zentangle is always forgiving and for giving. I give lots of my tiles and tangled bookmarks away. Thanks to you and Rick for giving us all a great direction in life.

    Sue Leslie CZT on

  • I swear. It wasn’t a mistake or even an oopsie. I meant to make a perfectly executed pod shape with orbs in the center. No problem. It just didn’t add any drama where it was needed. Today’s blog, resurrecting Bronx Spear to my tangle-verse, is just what it needed! Thanks so much for always inspiring us in so many ways. And just while I was tangling a stack of Zentangle thank-you cards, you mentioned for GIVING. I have been blessed with so many beautiful well-wishes since my cancer diagnosis, I’m tangling my heart out in gratitude. Thank you tangles are just what the doctor ordered-for GIVING!

    Roberta Strickland on

  • I love Bronx Spear and not only for covering ‘mistakes’ but also because it can add such a dramatic touch to a design.

    Great to read this blog again Maria !

    Kathy McMurtry CZT on

  • I love Bronx Spear. I have used in many times writing to my pen pays. They never know I am covering up a mistake:)

    Jackie on

  • Bronx Cheer makes amazing borders. I use it from time to time when my piece needs some drama. I love it and you,

    Thanks Maria

    Kathy Y. on

  • This might sound a bit crazy 🤪 to admit but I actually have a little box filled with a lovely assortment of partially finished white, tan and black tiles I have collected over the past 14 years. All they need is that special touch of a Bronx Cheer or a Bronx Spear. One day they will get all jazzed up ready for gifting 🥰. Love your post!

    Brenda Shaver CZT 8 Ontario Canada

    Brenda Shaver on

  • I adore your Bronx Spears! They will definitely be added to my tangle collections! On giving…My son joined the Army National Guard a few years ago. While he was at basic training, I mailed him letters with my tiles in them, along with some fun little Bijou tiles. Before I knew it, he was writing home asking for my Bijou tiles as the other recruits wanted them too! Many of the recruits wanted to send them in letters to their girlfriends back home. I found myself creating many little tiles during that time. It brought such joy and beauty to the recruits. They were truly a gift that kept giving. Your love, care and beauty of this art has touched so many people in so many different ways. Thank you.

    Mary Margaret Yahnke on

  • Having been distracted by health problems and growing older problems, I an happy to rejoin the Zentangle family once more. I love the tangles at Xmas time… have you given any thoughts to exploring tangles using the symbols of Chanukah? The MENORAH.,CANDLES,and DREIDL, for example, might inspire the Zentangle community.

    Naomi Frenkel on

  • Thanks for this post! I started last week with the Christmas cards “course” and showed my students one card with a “ink-accident” (I love to draw with Indian ink)… it had disappeared and was just invisible… my students left the studio with lots of cards to finish at home! They were calm and confident : no reason to get troubled by any mistake (by what!?)… and proud to give these self-made cards to their friends and family! Thanks for this forgiving and up-building method!

    Tania on

  • It is indeed a great idea! I gave out a couple of tiles as cards for my dear friends last week. Hopefully I can do this more often and spread the “cheer”!

    Suchitra Komandur on

  • For giving indeed! I’m an AARP Illinois volunteer & have inserted a tangle in Christmas cards to local nursing homes! Thank you for all the inspiration. With gratitude!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler Czt33 on

  • I have been “gifting” my Zentangles to family and friends since I discovered the “gift of Zentangle” in 2018! I love my tangles, and enjoy sharing them with those I love…

    Jessica Dykes on

  • Forgot to say I am CZT14

    Mindy Shapiro on

  • Just last week I mage my husband a Zentangle card for his 60th birthday and having just learned quilling, decorated around the tangles with quills. I make all of his cards.

    Mindy Shapiro on

  • I probably make 98% of all cards that I give my friends and family. I tangle on the front of the tile, write my greeting on the back, punch a hole in one of the corners, and tie a short ribbon or twine through it. I started doing that several years ago when I noticed my friends were keeping out the tiles I had given them. So now they can hang them from door knobs, or Christmas trees, or whatever suits their fancy.

    Ruth Osborn CZT36 on

  • Zentangle family is, as a rule very much forgiving. I always feel gratitude coming from headquarters and forgiving is the other side of gratitude. I think you’re right. I don’t stress so no mistakes enough in my teaching. I think I need to start off with a mistake next time. We’ll see how forgiving we can be.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Rarely is someone disappointed to receive a piece of artwork, especially knowing it was created by the presenter. I have included a framed tile as a Christmas gift to a young relative that I rarely see. I believe she will realize how much she means to me when it is unwrapped. To the entire Zentangle family, may you be blessed now and in the future with love, peace and kindness. Merry Christmas.

    LaJuania D CZT36 on

  • Rarely is someone disappointed to receive a piece of artwork, especially knowing it was created by the presenter. I have included a framed tile as a Christmas gift to a young relative that I rarely see. I believe she will realize how much she means to me when it is unwrapped.

    LaJuania D on

  • I rarely buy a finished card these days, preferring to add a tile to a blank note card and personalizing it all I can. Do I worry that my efforts will be misunderstood? There’s a chance of that. But it is a sharing of the joy of creating, and there is no need for forgiveness there! Thank you for all you do!

    Ginger White on

  • Just reading your blog about the Bronx Spear makes me want to do one now before anything gets in the way this day! Thanks.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • Thanks Maria, I am a fan of Bronx Cheer as well, it has so much more going for it than Bronx Cheer. Having practiced Zentangle for the past dozen years, I have very few tiles still in my possession for I agree freely giving them to friends, family, acquaintances marking birthdays, happy days, days of mourning allows me to share a vital part of myself, an act that is welcomed by the receivers. I do photograph, to record my progress, all of my tiles before sharing them.

    Karen Wyatt on

  • A lovely post. Thank you. I find when I don’t think something is a mistake, as when the direction I intended with my pen has veered off, then it isn’t. It’s just a happy coincidence.

    Jackie on

  • I love this and I love you!

    Heck, I love all of you and I am so grateful for stumbling onto/into Zentangle. Looking forward to 12 Days of Tangles!

    Rosemary Bogan on

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