It occurs to me that this has turned into a Zentangle® blog and has not showed any of my textile work recently. That's because there hasn't been any textile work recently. I've temporarily lost my textile mojo. Maybe because it's summer, and who wants to work with wool in the summer...but I am starting to get concerned. Ok, enough of that. Let's just hope inspiration returns.
Last night I did a quick tangle based on the Project Pack 06 Day 5, which was great fun. It was so late when I did this that my hands were shaky but that's alright:
That version of Mooka, discovered by Julie Willand, CZT, was hugely fun, although I need more practice with it. I think my version/attempt should be called "Black-Capped Melting Mooka" for the little caps I added to it. I am looking forward to playing with it more.
This evening I took an online class with Romi Borax Marks, CZT, also known as The Tangled Yogi. She is all about color and is an excellent teacher, as I've been saying an my recent posts. Here is the result.
That was the first time I worked on a hexagonal tile--they are all the rage right now in the Zentangle world. I enjoyed it (especially for the smooth tooth of this particular paper) but am not sure what all the fuss is about yet. I need to experiment with them more. Happy to have had a chance to try one, though.
Well this was tough! I'm not quite sure why. I did notice, though, that when I sat down to work on this, I was not feeling at my best emotionally. In fact I was feeling like s*** emotionally. That's quite unusual, but it's been a tough couple of weeks. Events and politics have been even more challenging (which is really saying something in this country).
I got started and right from the get-go I disliked what I was doing. If I had been working on a single sheet of paper or a tile, I'd probably have abandoned this. Possibly I'd have ripped it up. But I was working in a special notebook, and didn't feel I could leave it and ignore it without diminishing all the other pieces I had done already in the book. So, following a Zentangle guideline, I kept my hand moving and focused on one line at a time. I worked and worked, but really. did. not. like. it.
Following another Zentangle guideline, I walked away from it for a while. When I returned, it still wasn't exciting me but I noticed I didn't dislike it quite as much. So I sat down and kept on. And on. And on!
It's still not my favorite page, but I'm ok with where I ended up, especially given how I felt when I started. Most of all, I'm happy I persisted. There's a lesson in here. My mood had improved substantially when I was done.
There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.
--attributed to the Buddha
Yesterday I asked my neighbor if she knew what the flowering, beautifully scented bush was in our front yard (we didn't plant it) and she said yes: Clethra. I thought she said "plethora" and assumed she was referring to the high number of fabulous blossoms. But no, she was naming Clethra alnifolia, also known as the sweet pepperbush or "summersweet." I love that last name.
Summersweet is incredibly seductive to honeybees and butterflies, both of which I've seen--a "plethora" of them--since it began to bloom a few weeks ago. And the scent...oh, the scent is so lovely. I feel honored to be in the presence of this plant. I remember it bloomed the first summer I moved here, but not last year. What a treat to have it make such a big comeback this year. Here's a blossom from our front yard.
There were so many honeybees and other cuties drinking from the flowers that I'm surprised I didn't have to beat any of them back to get this photo but this one stem was not being worked just as I snapped the shutter. Lots of Monarch butterflies and other butterflies around it also this year. It's a good year for the Monarchs around here--god knows they need a good year. And the bees as well.
Advice from a Honeybee
Create a buzz.
Sip life's sweet moments.
Mind your own beeswax.
Always find your way home.
Stick close to your honey.
Always bee yourself.
I hasten to say here that I am simply following along with the Project Pack videos as I draw, so these compositions are copies of what is on the videos, not my original compositions. 99% of what I post here is original to me, but sometimes, when I don't have the mojo--which has been happening lately for unknown reasons--it's just so relaxing to follow along and copy-to-learn-from someone else's work. I always attribute the work to the originator, as I've done here and for my last several posts.
Working my way through Project Pack 06 (this is from Day Two) I am thinking about Blackness and Whiteness (and everyone else--brown, yellow, red) in my country. Doing this drawing in black and white was calming and joyful, but I'm also thinking of the deep racial disparities and oppression in existence here, now even more obvious. Not that they ever went away.
The week before Toni Morrison died, I watched an absolutely wonderful documentary on her life (highly recommended). I had no idea that she was sick and fixing to die as I watched. I left the theater and decided to re-read all of her books, beginning with The Bluest Eye, which I last read around 1976. I have just finished reading it and am stunned all over again by the power and beauty of her words, along with the pain and the level of truth we all need to face.
Rest in peace, Toni Morrison. You have been and will continue to be a powerful teacher for me and for others.
Just a quiet day and my first work with Day One of Zentangle®'s Project Pack 06. Videos for this one are likely easily found on YouTube.
I'll have to let this song speak for me, because I cannot say what is in my heart after this terrible week in my country.
Wrong. Tragic. And entirely preventable.
This tangle helped me to center myself, but did not take the pain away.
Credit for the composition goes to Romi Borax Marks, but I did the drawing and colors.
I am definitely--and very oddly--still off my game, but I did manage to produce this today:
I would love to take full credit for it, but the truth is that while I did indeed draw this, I was really just following along with a video on YouTube by Romi Borax Marks, CZT. She has a lot of videos and they are all worth watching. I needed to be totally brainless-but-focused and her video did the trick. Don't get me wrong: SHE'S not brainless! I am the temporarily brainless one. I needed to be "one of the herd" today, and not have to think about anything.
I had to vary my materials quite a bit from what she uses, and that did require some creativity. For example, all the color on her video is applied with colored pencils. On mine, I first applied art tissue paper in order to prep the tile before I bound it into a Bitty BookZ™ so the color was already there and thus I had to use colors I'd chosen weeks ago; I did punch them up a bit with Prismacolor pencils. In addition, Romi uses very smooth tiles that she produces and sells, whereas my tangle was done on traditional Fabiano Tiepolo printmaking paper (i.e., the regular 3.5" Zentangle® tile) which has a lot of tooth (not smooth). So in the end there was a big difference between her process and mine.
Why I am feeling so creatively stymied is a big question, and I expect I'll understand it eventually but in the meantime I am just attempting to make a quiet and easy "comeback" with completely non-stressful work. There's not much that is less stressful than working alongside an excellent video done by an excellent teacher. I highly recommend Romi's videos.
The ever-turning Wheel of the Year has moved again here in the Northern Hemisphere; we're now at Lammastide, the part of the old agricultural cycle when the corn is ripe for harvesting along with so many other plantings. In the area where I live, corn is standing tall in the fields, and ears of corn are beginning to be sold in the various roadside stands, along with cucumbers, tomatoes...so much to harvest and too long to list.
My wish is for everyone on the planet to have enough to eat. I know it is not so now, but may it be so in the future.
Here's a tile with all new (to me) tangles, done on the last page of one of my handmade books. Tangles are Kauri Kunda, Scape, and Sikito. On a Renaissance tile with black Micron 01, graphite, and chalk pencil.
This one is my first try at the tangle called Windmill, by CZT Hiroko Matsuo. That's where the "Testing Testing" title of today's post comes from.
Done on a Renaissance (tan) tile with Micron 01 in black, graphite, and some light chalk pencil. This one has so many possibilities. I did it in one of my Bitty BookZ™ I'd made last month--this book is nearly full now.
I ran the same photograph thru an iPhone app, Painnt, and got this.
Maybe my creative mojo is starting to sneak back? I would love to get some textile projects going, especially a rug.
Yesterday I managed to get it together enough to create ONE full-sized tile Bitty BookZ™ which you can see below. I experimented with some new untested techniques which might mean that the book will fall apart eventually. But right now, it's ok.
Just below is the back cover on the left, the dark blue spine, and the front cover on the right; you can see how flat the book is when lying on the counter. Below that is the book opened to the only page that has a completed tangle on it. All the other pages are blank.
This should be fun to work in. I'm glad I managed to get enough mojo back to create SOMETHING after days and days of nothingness.
I've lost all my mojo! All my creative mojo, that is. No textile work of any kind is underway. I've barely been able to tangle at all. I am uninspired. This has been going on all month. Mercury Retrograde? The sticky weather? A less-than-pleasant though not at all serious recent medical adventure? All of those things? I dunno. But I sure hope I can find some mojo soon.
At least I managed to get this done today.
Some knots can only be resolved and undone with relaxation and patience. (Sridhar Ramasami)
The great advantage of being in a rut is that when one is in a rut, one knows exactly where one is. (Arnold Bennett)
I finally tackled making a full-sized tile version of Bitty BookZ™ today. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the word but - as usual - it's "good enough" for my first one and I learned what to do and what not to do for the next one. I'm liking this full-sized version. All the interior pages of this are tangled already because I used my "Teaching Tiles," (tiles I've created when preparing to teach a class) and some of my earliest tiles from back when I first learned. This is a great way to store previously tangled tiles.
Compare this one to the previous post where I worked that previous tile just as Maria did (basically copying her to learn from her). Last night and today I re-did it more in my own style, as a mandala. I added a few random things and a variation of the tangle Fanning (which I had never done before) around the edge, then shaded with a grey chalk pencil and highlighted with white. I'm liking the result, and feel like I've explored this "theme" created by Maria as much as I wish to right now. I'm done with it for for the moment.
Weather here is fiercely hot and humid. Not that far (20 miles) from me the heat index today was 115 degrees F, resulting from a high temperature and a dew point of 79. I had no idea dew points could even go that high. When I ventured outdoors to get the mail this evening it felt as though I was walking thru a vat of hot soup, wearing a sweater. It's been years since the weather has been this bad. Tomorrow will be the same; they are promising relief by Monday night. Let's hope so!
Trying to get my mojo back after a long period of (puzzling) lack of interest. We have a heat wave moving in, my most dreaded weather. Perhaps staying home during that will enable me to get some more tangling done. Still no interest in textile work, although hot weather often brings that on.
Below is my version of Maria Thomas's latest "Kitchen Table Tangle." She invited us all to give it a try, so I did. She scored and folded hers, but I wanted to leave mine unfolded. She used watercolors and I used chalk pencils. Because of the nature of Zentangle®, they look very similar but are in fact very different. It's like two people writing the same sentence on a sheet of paper with cursive script--it's the same sentence but their individual handwriting will make the two versions look very different.
Some days are better than others. I just don't have it today. (Whatever "it" is.) Instead I have a very mild toothache, which I'll deal with in the morning. Staring at this blank page in a Bitty Book™ I made a few weeks ago, all I could imagine doing was drawing some random lines. Thank goodness for chalk pencils.
Time to go read a trashy novel, methinks!
More life-busyness means less posting. The good news is that I'm feeling better. I've continued to play with art tissue paper, the type of tissue paper that comes in dramatic colors and bleeds when wet. I've been wetting it, then squeezing it above wet Zentangle® tiles to see what it does, and/or crushing it and smashing it around directly on the tiles. This first tile was the result of the "dropping stain onto the tile from above" method:
I still feel a bit wobbly about the Icanthis tangle, so it will probably show up here more often while I practice it.
More tiles below. I switched tissue paper colors and both dropped color on and also mashed it on. This was violet-colored tissue paper and it was interesting to notice how as the staining dried, some pure blue began to seep out. There was absolutely no way I could avoid seeing these backgrounds as moon-and-sky (the first one) and evening sky. So, I built some Moon Bridges and left the tiles as mostly background, minimal tangling. Great fun with this art tissue, as you never know what you're going to get.
I was so surprised by those two.
Well then, of course I had to experiment some more, so I ran Moon Bridges #2 through a mirror app on my iPhone and was startled to see some figures emerge. See the result below.
The destination cannot be described;
You will know very little until you get there;
You will journey blind.
(T. S. Eliot)
As far as I can remember, I have only ever done this tangle once, and that was years ago. So I wasn't sure if this would end up becoming "Hellish" or "Ellish." I do like the way it turned out and I need to practice more to allow myself to relax right from the start.
Speaking of hellish, the outdoor temperature is warming up and humidity is just beginning to slide in this direction; my all-time least favorite weather. I can tolerate cold far better than heat. Ok, enough of that!
Yesterday I broke out my gellyroll pens, which I haven't used since I can't remember when, and played with another grid-based tangle, this one a fragment from the Zentangle® book, Reticula and Fragments. (A "reiticula" is just another name for "grid.")
In love with this weather? I'm happy for you! (You've certainly waited long enough for it after the long cold rainy spring.). "Hellish" or Coolish, we all welcome summer. There is so much to enjoy. May yours be a wonderful one.
"The difficult part of the process is the long exploration and discovery of your own soul and living with the results."
Tangle is Cirque, but doubled, and I added a few more things to it, like some Mooka and a spinoff of Crescent Moon. Used black & brown micron 01s, graphite, white gellyroll, general's chalk pencil, and a very small amount of Prismacolor. This tile is inside one of my first BittyBookZ™. See posts in June for info about those.
Gawd, what a week. I needed something round and sunny today so I made the above tangle on some pages in one of my recent handmade books.
Today is the first day I feel like myself in over a week. I had a medical test that went wrong. Nothing dangerous, but it's quite impressive how bad one can feel when something is seriously "off" but not dangerous. I have had zero, and I do mean zero, motivation to do anything for days and days.
Hurrah for feeling better!
Last week in the middle of my woes I had a bout of insomnia, and that's when I did the tile just beneath this. I was still trying to work on grid-based tangles, which are not my preference. The combo of "not my preference" and "feeling really crappy" added up to what you see below.
[Late last week] Oh, how my mood is matching the feeling of being "gridlocked," like the tangles I have been working on. I've been pretty sick this week, unexpectedly. Nothing that won't improve, but the improvement is slow. I've discovered--no surprise--that I suck as an invalid. I'm not good at sitting around. There are things I want to be doing that are physical, and I'm just not up to doing them yet. Frustrating.
Insomnia last night led to another grid-based tangle, C-Stem by Agneta Landeson. I've never tried it before:
I'm not crazy about how it came out but at least the process did enable me to go to sleep.
Grid-based tangles are not always my favorite type to draw, so I want to practice them more to see what I think and explore that resistance. The tangle below is called "Krokus" but I added so much to it that it's almost hard to recognize. I'm not sure but I don't think I've drawn it before.
And now the same tangle, but presented differently below. The grid isn't so obvious in this one. You can see the pencil lines (the "string") if you look, however.
I was so pleased at how easy it was to tangle with the tile actually part of a book. While I've been making books at the rate that some of us eat potato chips (you can't stop at just one), I hadn't tangled in any of them yet.
A lovely calming meeting today with rug hooking friends Diana, Lynda, and Judy.
Actually, make that utter shock.
I went to Elaine Huffman's studio today for a "Bitty BookZ™ maker event," thinking I would pick up a lot of tips from those more experienced.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered none of the other 5 participants had ever made a bitty book. I was even more surprised to end up in the role of teacher for this group. Without any planning or rehearsal. ("Planning" and "Rehearsal" are my two middle names.)
Elaine could have taught the class--but she gave us her studio for the day plus fabrics and all the other supplies...and while we worked, she was madly cutting things for us in the background. Without Elaine, none of this would have happened. So what did happen? This:
And below is a view from the side, so that you can see them slightly open:
See below for a couple of pictures of the books as they move thru the stages of creation:
And yes, those are chocolates at the top of the photo. Surprisingly, people were so absorbed that I never saw anyone eat one...
On to the next stage:
And here below we have the entire group after their books were dry and we got to un-clamp and un-elastic them. From left to right are: Janeen, Jane, Carolyn, Cheryl, Laura, and the scamp at the bottom in the violet shirt is Elaine herself. Elaine deserves huge applause for enabling this to happen.
Interested? If you'd like to try it yourself, you can get Chris Titus's very helpful pdf describing what supplies are needed and how to do these from start to finish. Click HERE to get the pdf ($10 US funds...well worth it).
You really CAN do this without a class, just from the pdf. Take it slow, expect some mistakes along the way, and don't expect perfection from your first one. But by the time you make the 2nd one, not only will it go faster, but you'll have it totally figured out.
Meanwhile, Janeen (a Certified Zentangle Teacher from Seminar 3!!!) filled her Bitty Book with ten of her own paper pages which she had made using the ever-popular "Shaving Cream" method of coloring and marbleizing the paper. It's all over YouTube--just type in shaving cream + paper. Here are a few of her tiles (now inside her beautiful book):
Janeen had a funny story about wanting to show her grandson how to color papers with the Shaving Cream method. Except, her grandson had been doing it for years in his school and HE ended up giving HER tips and hints.
Of course, you can use plain white or black or tan tiles for your own book, or you can take your already-completed tiles (ones you've already tangled) and use those for your pages. The possibilities are endless.
There is a Facebook page for BittyBookZ (oriented towards people who do Zentangle®); it's a closed group but you can ask to join if you want to join the fun.
Same tangle as yesterday's post, Haf n Haf, with each square turned a different way (and a few more lines too). Same art tissue paper used, so the colors are lighter and I didn't cover the entire tile.
I added a bit of colored pencil in spots and a bit of graphite for shading. Yesterday's tile had neither shading nor any additional color.
Life is 'trying things to see if they work.' --Ray Bradbury
This tangle--really a fragment--is called Haf n Haf, by Dennie York CZT. It has endless possibilities depending on which way each square is turned. I wanted to practice it so drew this very wonky grid on a tile I had colored by first wetting it and then pressing various shades of art tissue paper on it. (Note to self: have hand soap at the ready in the future!)
Later I re-used the same tissue papers and got a similar color on another tile, just lighter. I will be experimenting more with this tangle so you'll see it again.
That was the "experiment" part of the title of today's post. Now for the "compassion" part.
Today, this bag (see below) arrived in the mail from my talented friend and sewer extraordinaire, Kate Lamontaigne of Kamala Boutique. I bought it online a couple of days ago; all the money went to help Travis Barone, a kid who had an unexpected brain event about three weeks ago when he was 17 (I think he has just turned 18). His mother is Kelly Barone, a much-beloved CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher). Travis was originally paralyzed from the neck down but I think he's regained the use of his upper torso/arms/hands. He has a very long recovery ahead. Hopefully he can get back all of his former health, but I don't think anyone knows at this point. Kate made 50 bags--each in a different fabric--and sold them with all the money going to Kelly and Travis to assist with his recovery.
I love the bag! And the fabric I chose is a tangle-like pattern. A great way to support Travis and his mom. To see if Kate has any bags left, go to the link for Kamala Boutique above and ask her. To contribute to Travis's recovery, go to the Go Fund Me page set up for him.
The top of the 6-sided box I've been working on is finally tangled, and I've sprayed the entire thing with fixative. All that's left is to add a button for closure. Here's the top.
I went outdoors after dark last night and was mesmerized by the bountiful fireflies everywhere in my front yard. Although I hadn't meant to, I stayed for over half an hour watching them as they danced in the dark. So very lovely. In their honor I added some white dots in the background on the top of the box, and also some dark dots on the right side of the top which is lighter in color.
To view a quick, lovely video on fireflies dancing, go HERE. Don't miss it.
The box, which really isn't that big (perhaps 8" x 1"?) took forever to tangle as I worked my way along all 6 sides. The paper actively resisted the ink, and it was awkward to tangle because of the shape. But I think it will be quite functional as soon as I add that button. I won't be making another one soon, however.
Yesterday must have been a good day for me as I also finished a Bitty BookZ™ version for Zendalas (see the last few posts for the link to more information on Bitty BookZ). Here is the final result on that. I'm quite pleased.
“Catch fireflies in flight, crinkle grass under your toes and know that you are always beloved always beautiful .... a dream within a dream.”
THE FIRST THING:
To the left you'll see a Bag of Boobs. Yes, boobs. Breast prostheses, that is. I knit them for the Knitted Knockers organization and supply them to my local hospital's mammography and medical oncology unit. They emailed Friday to ask for another batch because "women love them."
I was so happy to hear it.
I knit in the evenings while I watch the news or a tv program. I cannot watch tv without doing something with my hands, and this has forever solved that problem. Because breast cancer is so common, there's an unending need for these prostheses for women who've had a mastectomy.
THE SECOND THING THAT STARTS WITH B: THE BOX
Here is the back spine of the box (I posted a picture of the bottom of the box a few posts back--you can just catch a glimpse of that underneath the narrow spine above). And above it you can see the as-yet-untangled top of the box. The tangle on the spine is Toodles. Done with white pen, colored pencil, graphite, white chalk pencil.
This is one side of the box (both sides are the same).
So now only the front of the box is left to tangle. Surprisingly, I am not enjoying tangling on this box one bit. The underlying structure is probably chipboard or something equally hard, and the brown paper covering is not porous at all. The combo makes it very challenging to tangle on--it's as if the paper wants to reject the pens entirely. Hard to get the ink out!
Plus tangling on tiny narrow surfaces that don't support one's hand is a real challenge. The combination of pen-rejecting paper and no hand control is making this a difficult project. When I'm done I think I'll love the box, but I sure don't want to tangle another one. Live and learn!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society