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Tangling Tip du Jour

Tangling Tip du Jour

Our Zentangle journey's are not linear. We go up and down, forward and backward and sometimes all over the place. Some days we push limits, boundaries and explore new ideas and techniques. Other days, we stick with the tried and true and the comfortable.

If you tangle often, you may find that you go through phases of different tangles, styles and techniques that you focus on for a period of time and then you move on to something else.

In this blog series, we will periodically share some of the tangling trends that we, here are Zentangle HQ, are currently excited about.

Molly writes...

Over the past few months, Martha and I have taught two workshops that dug deep into working with just black, white and shades of gray. We utilized Sakura's Micron gray pens and played with Generals sketch 'n' wash pencil. I really fell in love with these tools and how they create layers and textures. I love the shading process of tangling and the gray pens really compliment the graphite. In addition to all the gray tones, I love to go back in at the end with the black Micron and finish it all off with General's charcoal white pencil. I am sure I will return to playing with color soon but for now this seems to be my go-to palette of choice. 

Martha writes...

We all have our daily habits, small moments of activity, nourishment, or pause that if missed, the rest of the day goes haywire. Habits, whether good or bad, eventually evolve over time. What once was a morning jog has become a morning coffee walk with the dog. In the past, I used to try to set aside a specific time to tangle each day and when I did, it felt wonderful! But when I didn’t…it felt like I had somehow failed. Recently I decided on a different approach. Like a lot of people, I spend most of my workday in front of a computer. I've shifted my “habit” of making a special time and place for tangling to always having a tile (or two) in progress right at my side. I’ve found that by adding to a composition throughout the day, I can draw inspiration from many types of influences. Toggling from screen to paper and back again gives me a sharper perspective of my work and leaves me with both a feeling of accomplishment and creativity. Having a tile that is an ongoing project has really allowed me to tangle truly unplanned with no expectations other than to enjoy the process.

Rick writes...

Maria turned me on to this technique as a way to add subtle graphite shading. Instead of placing the graphite with the pencil directly on the tile, place a large area of graphite on a separate piece of paper using the side of your pencil. Then rub that area to load your tortillion with graphite and use the tortillion to transfer the graphite to the tile. This gives you more control, particularly if you want only a hint of shading. Remember, you can always go back onto your tile to add more graphite with your tortillion or with your pencil. I like to use the back of a tile because the texture "holds" a lot of graphite, at least at the beginning. Once you've gone over that area with your tortillion it smooths out and you'll want to load up another area like on the tile in the picture. The reason for the blue tape is my tortillion started to unwind and it was still in good shape.


Julie writes...

Oh! I wish I could tell you, but I can't.. not yet! I have been completely consumed with the materials in Project Pack No. 18 and while I would love nothing more than to share with you all right now, my lips are sealed until August 12th!

Share with us in the comments what your current favorite tangle, trend or technique is and we will choose a commenter at random to receive a Zentangle Project Pack No. 18!





  • Currently I’ve traced Bijou sized tiles in my journal. I thumb through your book Reticulas & Fragments to create my little Bijou tiles. It’s amazingly fun what creatively transpires from pen to paper.

    Christine Guymon on

  • I love that there is always something new to learn and share.

    Cindy on

  • Great tips!

    I also have fallen in love with both the sketch and wash pencils and the gray microns. Both really add to dimension, big time, with little touches. I am also enamored of some matte graphite pencils that are not as shiny when photographed. A mix loaded on a tortillion as Rick mentions, above, is a very nice balance between the two.

    I am absolutely with Julie on the materials for PP18 and can hardly wait for the videos!

    I love Martha’s idea of having a tile at hand for when the moment moves you rather than feeling disappointed that I didn’t manage my specific tangling time. This may be a solution for me as it has been a stressful, not very structured year due to family illnesses and my practice has suffered.

    I switch up my favorite tangles between the structure of hollibough and the organics of flux and mooka. These are easiest for me not to have to decide but to just jump in to tangling. As the tile takes form I add more high focus tangles in and amongst them

    As for style changes: it is very apparent when I look through my tiles over the years but I grapple with it when I work in larger formats such as an Opus tile. If I leave it for a day or two it feels a bit less cohesive on the reapproach, so I think I may find Martha’s suggestion helpful herapprochement,

    Thanks for this helpful blog post. For me it is most timely!

    PamS on

  • Wow! That’s a lot of ideas shared. Whenever there is depth needed, I use either dark grey brush pens, or when I need more depth I use Pitt Pastel pencils. They work wonders ❤️

    Vandana Shenoy on

  • I love Cadent. Making circles then connecting them with S’s is so relaxing to me, and it looks so cool. I love the tile above that looks like folds on the tile. Would love to learn how to do that. Could you please direct me?

    Thank you!

    Janice on

  • Knightsbloom is my current favorite tangle (step-out forthcoming), and color is IN! I agree with Martha about having a tile at the ready for when my day heaves and lulls – and letting go of preconceived self-expectation. Sigh! Thank you, all, for sharing your perspectives and good energy!

    Danielle on

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