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Tangle Talk

Tangle Talk

Rick writes:

Maria was tangling at her desk, as she so often does, whether in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. She was noodling lines into perhaps a new tangle . She showed it to me and I liked how the over and under developed. "This will be a fun one to shade," I said.

Maria checked with Linda Farmer, CZT, at to learn if there was something else like it. And the report came back that there wasn't.

Maria used for a basic component, an open heart (hmm, nice imagery). I also love how it appears like that releasable stitch that is atop those large bags of basmati rice!

As I looked at it, I began to see a repeating elemental "S" curve. Oooh, if I use that, then I can make the center have some thickness and I came up with this,

We were both feeling quite pleased that we had something fun and new to show at the upcoming zenAgain CZT reunion this fall.

Then Molly saw my tile and said, "Oh, I think Tomas Padros did something like that." Sure enough . . .

Well, similar maybe, but not a row. But wait, what does Tomas mean, "Inspired by elfin?" Time to look up elfin.

Ah, that's exactly what I tangled.

Shout out to HElena for elven!

So, what to learn from all this? Well, a few things.

One, is to check out Tomás Padrós and HElena's awesome step-outs. 

Another, always be on the lookout for new tangles, whatever the inner or outer inspiration.

And another, there can be more than one way to tangle the same tangle. I like to watch a pattern with a soft focus to see what elemental strokes present themselves. Then I muse how to arrange a stepout in the simplest way with the fewest elements and the fewest steps.

And last (for now), there are no "official tangles," at least not from our perspective. Patterns are an aspect of creation. To notice them and to take inspiration from them and then play with them in a way that only you can . . . that is one of the gifts of the Zentangle Method. We never look at a particular pattern, or tangle, or step-out except to marvel at its beauty and its possibilities. And, of course, to look forward to what others will do with it that never occurred to us and . . . to have fun with all this. 

What did you learn from this story?


Rick Roberts


  • From Maria’s I wanted to do an interlocking immediately. One side over and other side under. Almost like a Celtic Knot. Second do the single row and at the bottom add three inside the last one having each of the three interlocking from that bottom one. So guess I just learned I can add my own take that started with Maria, then yours, Rick and lead into Thomas and HElena.

    Gloria Lenzen on

  • So you were working on a Birthday Tangle! It is beautiful! I would like to add that I am really enjoying the new project pack! I have been fascinated by calligraphy for years, but have been afraid to try it on my own. . . I have been inspired by the beautiful “Christmas Card” you designed and that was shown on your interview at the museum. I actually paused the intro video and tried my hand at drawing that page. I was so glad to see that you were going to explore letters as tangle elements. I was disappointed that you went so quickly on the 3 day. I wanted to be able to slowly copy everything you did. Thank you for going quickly and not showing how you did every letter. It forced me to do my own thing, which was exactly what I needed to move ahead and grow! Thank you AGAIN!

    LLS on

  • goodle love

    Phi Long Auto on

  • I ve been teaching Zentangle for 2 years and art for most than 30 years. Patterns are everywhere but the most amazing and important thing about this amazing method, is how you deconstructed every single pattern to us to enjoy and let us, the teachers, take this creative method to teach our students in the most original way by meditating and having fun. Zentangle family is the best discovery I ve ever had in my creative life. Thank all for all your amazing patterns and to let us be a part of your family.


  • I learned how wonderful the Zentangle open heart is as the basic component for the whole creative process and for the Zentangle community. Thank you, Maria and Rick for this lovely Tangle Talk💗

    Ingrid Born on

  • Another beautiful tangle. Thanks so much for sharing the step outs are great.

    jennifer on

  • Don’t they say “Everything old is new again!” Or something like that. There are So Many tangles….

    Cindy Brandt on

  • It reminds me of cooking. When I first try a recipe, I pretty much stick to the chef’s ingredients and steps. I taste it and see what I like. Then, the next time I cook it, I might change out an ingredient or add a little extra spice. That makes it my own. :p)

    Eli Harlan on

  • I learned that it is a free world and there is NO competition in Zentangle. That it is no what Zentangle is about. Zentangle is pure at its base, to have fun, to look for opportunities, to improve, to share. to get inspired. But most of all, Zentangle is about spreading the love…

    Karin Godyns, Belgian CZT in Spain on

  • I learned AGAIN to stop trying so hard to get the tangles “right” but though I’ll use the step outs and guidelines, I’ll remember to “play” and be as generous with myself as you and Maria are with your philosophy of no “official “ tangles. Thank you always for your continuing encouragement to us!

    Susan Talbot on

  • I learned that creativity is all around us!

    And we can get to the same point coming from different ways. Patterns are everywhere and belong to the universe. It’s fun to find a pattern and try to deconstruct it.
    But the best thing ALWAYS is to enjoy the process, not to know a loooong list of tangles and try to remember them all.
    We must remember that! ;)

    Maria Tovar on

  • Another wonderful creation!

    Richard Raines on

  • I learned that I have so much more to learn. as a newbie, I have been busy “learning” tangles and wondering how to remember them all. Now I am seeing that it is an evolving process, rather that a set form. Thanks for this insight.

    Fran Sparks on

  • I have discovered that old sayings are just that! They are true in so

    many ways, such as ……”Great minds think alike”!
    What an interesting tangle, which obviously appealed to many people and that it has so many ways of “stepping it out”. I LOVE it!

    Sue Zanker on

  • I learned that we’re all creative in one way or another. Sometimes two different paths lead you to the same place. So this is interesting as we must follow what our mind creates for us. And sometimes, a new tangle appear….the magic of Zentangle is done. Thanks

    Oswaldo Burbano Sandoval on

  • They say there’s nothing new under the sun! Nevertheless, discovery and/or rediscovery are what it’s all about.

    Vivian on

  • This reminds me of Molly‘s verbal Tangling sessions. She says draw a line radiating out from the center. I hear draw straight line, the person next to me hears draw a wiggly line l. Each person takes the information in and comes out with something beautiful.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Maria’s tangle and elvin also remind me the the previous post from James with Ganada. Interesting to compare the step out and final pattern of all 3. A mini project for me to spend some time tangling the in and outs of all 3.

    Johnifer Baker on

  • You verified the adage that, ‘Great minds think alike!’ It is a very appealing tangle whomever deconstructed it first!!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • It underscores there is usually more than one way to do something, it is all a matter of perspective/life experience!

    Ginger White CZT 34 on

  • I have learned that flexibility is what I need while doing Zentangle…at the beginning it was a matter of just following instructions but that the more that I do it the more permission I give myself to deviate from the instruction. And from that emerges my personality in the tangle.

    Carolyn Satter on

  • I have learned that flexibility is what I need while doing Zentangle…at the beginning it was a matter of just following instructions but that the more that I do it the more permission I give myself to deviate from the instruction. And from that emerges my personality in the tangle.

    Carolyn Satter on

  • I once took inspiration from my crossed legs and tangled a tile. Can’t remember now what I did with it and how it looked but I do remember the feeling of creating a tangle from life. 🙃

    Kathy Y. on

  • Ive learned that

    Carolyn Satter on

  • Ive learned that

    Carolyn Satter on

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