Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
My Pre-Strung Journal

My Pre-Strung Journal

This is not the first time that I write about strings. The role of the Zentangle string on my tangled artwork and the overlap and metaphor it takes into my daily routine fascinates and inspires me. I love the way a Zentangle string offers a suggestion of a direction I could go, but doesn’t demand or restrict the way I respond to it.
When we got our Zentangle Journals in a few years ago, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to start with a blank one or a pre-strung one. At first I was thinking that I wanted a blank one. But then I thought about it a bit and I changed my mind. Of course I could have had both but I wanted to really dive into and focus on one first. I had started many tangled journals before but never really attached myself to any of them.


I was thinking that the strings might be great prompts to keep me going. I was inspired to start filling my journal. Over the years, have noticed this thing with people and their sketchbooks and journals. Many of them never get filled. Why is this? Maybe it is a daunting task. Maybe that is why people love working on tiles. Maybe it is thrilling at first and then we lose interest. My Mom showed me a trick a few years back. When you start a new sketchbook or journal, open to random page in the middle of the book and start there. Who says that you have to start on the first page and continue on in consecutive order? Once you fill one page you can continue to skip around here and there. It is not a story so there is no need to go in order. You can always date individual pages as you go for historical reference. With this approach your journal slowly becomes full in way that doesn’t leave you obligated to fill every page. So why not dance that dance with your journal work as well. Once you get in the groove of meandering around the pages, you get to choose which path to take next. With my pre-strung journal I like the randomness of choosing a page with a suggested string on it or perhaps working on a blank page. Maybe I am in the mood to tangle something more structured like focusing on a tangle step-out and exploring all the variations. My favorite part about the pre-stung journal is that all those delicately pre-strung lines disappear when my tangles magically transform them. And then I like to take some of my favorite tiles and artfully mount them to some of the pages. I love the variation all these approaches add to the whole.

Life isn’t so linear either. There are so many experiences and relationships branching off in different directions and overlapping here and there. There are times in my life where I feel like things are going on the straight narrow, other times where they seem to laser beam over one another and other times when things seem to go full circle.  I love pulling out a metaphor in this process. I start to ponder if there are other things in my life that don’t have to be done in the order or the way they have always been done. Sometimes in life things need to happen out of order because that is what happens or that is what makes sense. Once I saw things under this new light … I felt empowered and honored to make these choices in my journey instead of letting them be made for me.
Like maybe tonight I eat dessert before dinner?

I have been dancing around the pages of my journal for a while now that I didn’t even notice it was practically full.  Oh, yay! … Time to start a new one.
See more pages from my journal on the Zentangle Mosaic App using the #mollyhollibaughstangledjournal

Molly Hollibaugh


  • This is an amazing Post! I didn’t know that there were journals, or that you could get them pre-strung! I Love the “flower” design on the cover of Molly’s Journal! I have no idea what the name of that tangle is?? Could you revisit this in your Zentangle Blog and give more info for those of us who are relative new?? PLEASE!!!!! (I’m not sure how I got here and if I can find my way back…)

    LLS on

  • This is an amazing Post! I didn’t know that there were journals, or that you could get them pre-strung! I Love the “flower” design on the cover of Molly’s Journal! I have no idea what the name of that tangle is?? Could you revisit this in your Zentangle Blog and give more info for those of us who are relative new?? PLEASE!!!!! (I’m not sure how I got here and if I can find my way back…)

    LLS on

  • I have started sooo many journals, both for words of wisdom and thoughts, and also for my tangle patterns, and never finished them. I love this idea of not starting at the front or ending at the end. What freedom. I feel excited to open a journal again. Thank you

    Red Teague on

  • I love the way, like me, you find so many profound wisdoms in the Zentangle process that carry through into life. I love the idea of jumping around in a journal. That really helps to break up that sense of imposed order. I too have one or two abandoned journals, or ones I’m frozen about even starting. Maybe this post will be the one that shifts my block!

    Jem Miller on

  • So I dance between several journals. One for travel. one for IAST (It’s a string thing where I do some and miss some but that is the way it is!) One from CZT 22 with many pages done and many just waiting for inspiration. And another with other Zentangle stuff just because I can like doing all the official tangles from Zenthology in alphabetical order or several pages of just heart tangles. And another with botanical style tangles started from a retreat I did in Colorado. All because I can and that is where this journey takes me from time to time. Thanks to all of you at Z HQ for this journey to who know where, but loving it and is making such a difference in my life one stroke at a time.

    Sue Leslie CZT on

  • Molly, thanks for your timely advice. I just received my prestrung journal in the mail from Zentangle HQ and your blog has inspired me to jump in and try something different. I have my beloved journal from CZT30 and I really enjoyed adding the tiles and my teaching notes but it’s not quite full yet either so more opportunities there too!

    Jane Goddard on

  • Molly, your Mom is so smart. What a brilliant idea! And look at you, finishing a journal!! How cool is that! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this :-)

    Donna Jacobson, CZT on

  • Some months ago I finally started drawing in the blank sketchbook/journal I received at the first zenAgain. It had been sitting on my shelf being beautiful, but kind of useless! I’ve been jumping around the pages somewhat, but also filling it more or less from front to back. I’m doing some water-media so I want those pages separate as they get wrinkly. I’m having a lot of fun, and it will definitely get filled. :)

    Margaret Bremner on

  • Love the idea of starting somewhere in the middle and jumping around!!

    Joanne on

  • Thanks for the encouragement to start. ( I do have that blank page syndrome, and for some reason don’t with tiles!) I quite like the idea of jumping around. Now I will have to break out that journal that is sitting in the cabinet and work! Adding finished tiles to the book is a great idea too. Happy Spring!

    Kate Ahrens CZT IX on

  • Life isn’t linear… brilliant Molly!
    Like Heidi, I too will pick up a journal at the June CZT and I look forward to filling it’s pages -
    thank you!

    Heather Moffatt on

  • Thank you for the idea to start in the middle! I recently purchased the pre-strung journal and I did not know where to jump in. Pristine blank pages are so pretty. This article has helped a LOT! The only thing in my journal was some words filling in the front page with general info, like when I started to tangle (1/7/19) and where I want to go with it (save up my money for plane fare, hotel and Zentangle CZT certification so I can teach again) and officially teach Zentangle to people who suffer from chronic pain and multiple autoimmune diseases like me. I tangle daily in some way and it has helped manage my chronic pain like medication has not done.

    DM Smith (bakayaro onna) on

  • Hi Molly. Thank you so much for again another inspiring article. Me too I really love eating dessert before dinner sometimes :o) I am carrying my prestrung journal with me all the time. Anywhere I go and find a bit of time I draw in it. The fact that it is pre-strung I find very relaxing and the blank pages open even more opportunities. I so loooooove my pre-strung journal. It is great fun. Have a wonderful day Molly! Thank you again and may you all be safe and happy at Zentangle.

    Karin Godyns, CZT20, on

  • Molly Molly Molly! Now you made me do it!! At 1:00 am I cannot sleep. After reading this email about the Pre-Strung Journal and random entries of course I place my order. I hope you have many in stock because you have a way about inspiring us. As I read this posting I can hear your soothing voice telling us your thoughts….ideas. Thank You for all that you and your family do to inspire us to do more and be better at what we do.

    Victoria Fletcher Smith on

  • Hello Molly,

    What a beautiful idea ! I am still working with the Journal I received at CZT31…Now I will pick random pages !!! Your book is beautiful….“Dance The Dance”..!!

    Sharon Jerkovic on

  • I like tiles. I do have sketchbook(s), too; however, I enjoy the tiles. I’ve always had a sketchbook at hand – multiple pages of this-n-that, skipped pages, too. So when I had my first class with a tile …. I was hooked. Maybe I’ll grab a sketchbook off the shelf and add some strings – always fun to be inspired!

    Carol Lee Parry on

  • I love your thought that Life is not always linear, either. My certainly isn’t at times. Hearing this validates my own non-linear processes, too. So now I won’t resist this in my art, as well. Thank you, Molly

    Leslie Hancock on



    Annette Chittenden on

  • Thank you for this post, Molly! Like Jan Brandt, my pristine Zentangle journal sits waiting for my first stroke. I won my journal some time back from one of your giveaways. I cherish its beautiful cover and divine paper, yet still am so afraid I’ll mess it up! Ok. I’m beginning with a pre-strung page; the first one I turn to will be my “Page One”. Again, I appreciate your gentle encouragement.

    Kellie May on

  • I used to work in my journals front to back and mark the start and end date on the inside front cover. Then I got my magic journals! The large one I skip around in and the small one is front to back. Not sure which one I like the best but it is fun to break the rules (as if!) and skip around! Now to find my pre-strung journal and work in it some more.

    Terri Young, CZT 16 on

  • I absolutely love the idea of skipping around in those wonderful journals! Thank you! Time to get some art on!!!

    Jodi Ballenger on

  • So true, Molly. I have both (of course) and started with the prestrung. Because it also has blank sheets I was able to play with12 days of zentangle when the 3zs were introduced and i hadnt gotten mine yet. That exercise broke me free. I tended to fear journals because not everything in there comes out as desired, hard to tear them out and I wouldn’t want to share necessarily. Now, i keep them for my pleasure, more like a diary but, like you, without set dates and order. Now, since there are no mistakes in zentangle those are my learning moments and I am starting to return to them and ‘salvage’ whether by reworking or showcasing tiles on top and continuing to enjoy the growth I feel from the whole process. Another alternative I am considering is sewing my favorite tiles into ‘books’ which I might call journals. Thanks again for your timely blog and for sharing your beautiful work.

    PamS on

  • Oh, I see a pre strung journal in my future! I keep my practice work in chronological order as it helps me see my growth in a particular aspect of Zentangle. Years ago, while doing poetry I skipped around in my blank books and it was always amazing to see what ended up next to each other!

    Ginger White on

  • Dear Molly … Your post has come to me at a perfect time. (Of course it has! That’s how it is with Zentangle. :D ) My pristine pre-strung journal has an honored home in my studio. It’s been waiting for me to honor it with my first mark for a long time. Thanks to this nudge from you, the time has come. <3

    Jan Brandt on

  • After looking at your journal earlier this month at 1440, I was of course in awe by the beauty of it. I did notice some blank pages but didn’t think there was a reason or story behind it. I should have known better!

    Thanks for sharing these little moments as they inspire me. I will grab one of my partially filled journals tonight and happily flip to a random page!

    Kim Kohler on

Leave a comment