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Tangle RootZ: crescent moon

Tangle RootZ: crescent moon

In this Zentangle Blog Series we explore the ins and outs of some of our most loved Tangles. Join us as we journey back to how it was discovered and deconstructed, why a certain tangle got its name, and who was involved in the process. We will look into different styles, applications and tangleations of a tangle. We will examine how some tangles have evolved over time and discuss how the same patterns have multiple names. Some tangles have inspired tangleations that were so wonderful that they became their own tangle. This series is fun deep dive into the life of a tangle.

Today, we take a look at the tangle crescent moon. Enjoy!


Molly writes...

Crescent moon is a special tangle. It is very often the first tangle that people learn when creating their first Zentangle tile. It naturally settled into this role very early on. It just seems to always work well as a place to start. For starters it can appeal to a broad range of artistic abilities. If you are new to drawing or creating, this tangle is not too intimidating and the results are very forgiving as they can go in many directions and still look great. It has a few simple steps, so it is easy to learn. For those who are more experienced it also offers the potential for interesting variations and complexity and might challenge dexterity.

Crescent Moon offers a nice ratio of inked in area complimented by the textured effect of the radiating lines. The simple task of filling each little lady bug shape with ink teaches and builds on skills that emphasize the importance of creating contrast in your art. The act of slowly filling each space one stroke at a time also requires focus and patience. However the most valuable technique learned by creating crescent moon is one we call “aura”. Crescent moon gives us the gift of aura, and once you have it, it is yours for all of your tangles to come. An aura is a simple line drawn equidistant to another line in a tangle. The newly drawn line mimics or responds to the characteristics of the previous one, much like a halo or ripples in a pond. Drawing auras is a beautiful meditative practice and leads to unexpected results. One you learn how to aura, you will find yourself using it as a skill in other tangles, tangleations and as a tanglenhancer.

              Crescent moon is a pattern I remember my Mom drawing often many years before Zentangle came to be. It is something she would add here and there in her artwork. I remember her teaching me how to draw it once to fill the letters of my name in bubble letters. Many of the early tangles were patterns that my Mom or Rick or others in our world at that time already new well. If there was a basic step-by-step way to create that pattern, we considered it to be used as a tangle. Some worked well and others not so much and some, like crescent moon fit all the criteria. I don't remember a time where there was Zentangle without crescent moon. It is just part of the history.

              Crescent moon received its name from Rick and Maria very early on in Zentangle history and fits with our goal of giving tangles names that don’t necessarily describe what the tangle should look like. The tangle crescent moon clearly does not look like a crescent moon.

              What I love about crescent moon is that it never seems to get old. I can use that tangle over and over and there still seems to be something magical about it. There always seems to be a little variation I can explore or maybe a different way to add it to a composition. Whenever I am stuck, crescent moon seems to be there to rescue me. I guess you could say crescent moon is like an old friend, which is always there when you need it.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • Me encanta este patrón, de pequeña lo hacía mucho en mis cuadernos del colegio, y a lo largo de mi vida… sorprendió y me gusta que muchos patrones que he hecho durante años tengan nombre, al igual que los dibujos que hacía era un arte, el zentangle.

    En mi trabajo lo uso mucho , trabajo en un centro de mayores y pintan lo que yo dibujo, y hacen también patrones simples.
    Vivo en las islas Canarias y me cuesta encontrar alguien que enseñe la técnica para mejorar yo y poder llevarlo a las bibliotecas como hago con el origami.
    Un saludo y gracias me encanta el blog,

    Bormen on

  • I am new to Zentangle and have been trying to do the flowing “unplugged”. It is on page 8 Primer Vol 1. Is there a video that shows this process?

    I appreciate your help.

    Lynda Feldmar on

  • Love Crescent Moon and how it’s been one of my “comfort” tangles for almost eight years. Thank you for featuring it Molly. It’s like an old friend who is always there for me.

    Brenda Shaver CZT 8 on

  • So many ways to use one tangle and then combine with other tangles. It’s beautiful. Thank you.

    Deborah Davis on

  • I have joined already many challenges but recently I joined Today’s tangles where we only are aloud to use the original tangles. It feels good to use them again and again and to learn every time a little bit more how to bring variation in our tiles with the same tangles. Thank you Molly for this wonderful blogpost and for the beautiful drawing!

    MatheussenRia on

  • I will get certified at CZT36 but people have already noticed me not showing as much pain on my face. Tangling has been an excellent pain and stress reliever and at work I have people ask about what I am doing. Those interested are handed an 01 Micron and some tiles and I email them the link to the Crescent Moon step-out. It is the perfect first step into tangling.

    onna (Debbie Smith) on

  • Good Morning Cali!

    Maria T, you make me laugh out loud! And often. Thank you.

    Hi Margaret B, I know you work so well. It’s beautiful.

    Thank you for the step to the past. Molly, guess what I’m drawing today?

    Maria V. Thank you for the tip of the hat to the past. I would love to see Carol’s variations. We could take some of these tangle posts one level deeper if we share our variations and stories too!

    Have a Zen filled day everyone!

    Mary Yahnke CZT

    Mary Yahnke on

  • This is gonna be fun!

    Quwatha Valentine on

  • Looking forward to more in this series. Crescent Moon is more than a favorite tangle for me (those change from time to time), it’s one of only a few go-to tangles.

    Margaret Bremner on

  • I love the idea of reviewing g traditional tangles and giving some background on them… makes using them a richer experience. THanks, MOlly

    Joeann Beresford on

  • I love treasure hunting. Thank you for all the treasures you have offered to me and the path to understanding that “Yes, I am an artist.”

    Linda Dochter on

  • Wow. Even I learned something here. . .

    Crescent moons in molygon. Cool!

    MAria tHomas on

  • There is something about Crescent Moon that gives it a place in any tile I do. It is not a showboat and yet it can be, it is not a wall flower but it can recede and become background. It belongs in my tackle box of tangles that I love. Thanks Molly!

    Kathy on

  • This blog series will be fun! I always teach Crescent Moon first and encourage my students to explore variations as they develop their Zentangle practice. It is an old friend.
    Bette Abdu, CZT

    Abdu Bette on

  • With gratitude and appreciation. Looking forward to more.

    Maureen HInes on

  • Crescent Moon is one of my favorite go to tangles. It is so versatile and it fits in beautifully with almost all other tangles. I love that there are so many variations of Crescent Moon so you can always make it look different. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series to see some of the variations of favorite tangles and maybe not so favorite! Great job on this first one Molly! Love learning the history behind the tangles!

    Leslee Feiwus CZT27 on

  • What a great series this will be! More treasures to pass on to students.

    Jody Genovese on

  • Thank you for this blog . I have been away from Zentangle for a while and am excited to try the variations with Cresent Moon.

    Teresa Gutwein on

  • Thank you for sharing more about Crescent Moon. It’s always nice to learn more about patterns and Zentangle.

    Nancy Domnauer, CZT18 on

  • Yes. Thank you for the story about Crescent Moon. First tangle learned and one of the first I teach. I look at other peoples tangles and look for their crescent moon variations. I try to add them to my practice. The variations seem never ending, a wonderful thing about these tangles. Crescent moon is iconic

    LIsa HOesing on

  • What an exciting series. I’m thoroughly looking forward to this & understanding more. Thank you for thinking of this

    Evy Browning on

  • I was not finished yet… I think one of the CZT’s was Carol Ohl. It would be interesting to see her variations in a mosaic.

    Maria Vennekens on

  • I remember from early Zentangle times, maybe 2011 or 12, that two CZT’ s told a story about a day demo -ing Zentangle. They tried to do a variation of Crescent moon en every new tile

    Maria Vennekens on

  • It was the first tangle I learned. Once I had my first zentangle class, I was hooked. Looking at some of my tiles, I see crescent moon in a lot of them!

    Carol Lee Parry on

  • I am soooo excited about what I hope will be many more blog posts in this series! I love hearing how tangles started and where the names come from! Love me some crescent Moon and look forward to learning more about the origins ( and some creative uses/tanglations ) of more tangles!

    Jeanie ‘JJ’ James on

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