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!
Oh, I am having way too much fun making these. I've made seven in the last two days. Fortunately I'll be busy with other obligations the rest of the week and am forced to stop.
Here are the books with covers opened and spines exposed. When fully opened, they're completely flat and should be very easy to tangle on. I can't wait to try.
Someone online pointed out that these Bitty BookZ™ fit well in the old (no longer available) wooden box with the Zentangle® motto on the front. I've never known what to do with this box but this answers the question. I love it as a storage container.
And finally, this was some of the pre-book binding preparation mess. All cleaned up now, thank goodness.
I'm not the only one obsessed with this, but wow, it took over my life this week!
"It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions." --Robert Bly
Just what I need. Another hobby. Oh sure.
The only way I can justify this one is to say that I'm surprised at how well these things actually show off Zentangle® tiles. Or would if I ever got good at making them.
Today's version was so badly bungled that I won't even go into the story, but it turned out sort of ok. I made the most of what started out as a "right-royal mess," as my friend Vivienne used to say.
Not only that, but a bunch of cotton quilt scraps arrived in the mail from my kind friend Elaine J. Huffman. Free! And mostly gorgeous batiks. She is clearly enabling this addiction. Thank you Elaine...I have 4 more books in the works already, thanks to your gift. Clearly it pays to know a talented quilter. See below.
On the left here is my hilariously inept first attempt at making a "Bitty BookZ™," a tiny book of Zentangle® tiles, invented by Chris Titus, CZT. Trust me, these can be truly gorgeous. But not this one!
Chris doesn't have a website so I can't link you to her beautiful work with her own Bitty BookZ™.
My aim was to learn the process today, nothing more. The point was to build one prototype in which to make all the errors I was sure I would make, and then from here on I can actually create some nicer books. I hope.
These Bitty BookZs are created with ten 3.5" tiles, so I started by picking out ten of my very earliest tiles from years ago when I was first learning to tangle. These are tiles that show where I was when I was learning, and some of them are...shall we say...uninspired. But it's always great to have my own early tiles to show students when I teach. So I used almost all old tiles for the prototype. See below to see the tiles in their new roles as pages in my finished book.
For some reason I was really apprehensive about trying this. And I did make some hilarious errors. For example, when I glued the paper on the front cover I got glue on the "right side," and then I had to do some tangling over it to cover up the worst of the mess. It's still a mess in some of the blank spaces on the cover, just look.
But the cover paper on the back side was the worst mistake--I didn't look at it before applying glue, and discovered to my horror that I had glued all over the right side and therefore exposed the wrong side, which had commercial printing on it. But...in true "There are no mistakes" Zentangle fashion, I tangled across the top to cover up the printing. That's why there's an odd dark horizontal strip across the top of the back cover.
And then there was the cover-paper in general--I used card-stock for the covers. Whoa, never again! Too stiff. What was I thinking? Fortunately I have thin decorative papers and lots of fabric scraps for the next Bitty BookZs I make, which should render the entire process so much easier.
Live and learn. All in all, I'm glad I worked up the nerve to try this on my own.
"My mistakes are my life." --Samuel Beckett
This mandala started 8 months ago. I did the outer border (you can see that HERE) last October and was flummoxed about what to do next. You know how these things sometimes have to marinate. I've had the filter itself (yes, a used coffee filter from the amazing Cheryl Cianci CZT, who drinks lots of coffee) since 2014. So this one marinated a very long time as a total blank, then again as a partially done piece, and finally it's finished.
"Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper, sprinkle cool patience."
"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life."
Antique Coverlet, a pattern by The Old Tattered Flag. I did this in red and beige hand-dyed cotton last spring, and this spring I thought i'd try it again in brown and beige hand dyed wool, using an Ultra Punch needle, medium tip, set on 2. This was great fun and I'm still debating how best to display it.
To contrast this version to the previous version, click HERE.
Tangling on a tan coffee filter with a blue watercolor wash (prepped by Cheryl Cianci, CZT, after she first used the filter to make her coffee, rinsed it, and put the wash on it; then dried it--Thanks for doing all that prep work Cheryl!). Tangles are Mooka, and a variation of Flux, as well as the embedded letters technique without any letters. PN Blue Micron, General's Pastel Pencils, White Gellyroll, Prismacolor Pencils.
I managed to avoid all the other things I was supposed to be doing today when I heard that my friend Cheryl Cianci, CZT, was offering her coffee-filter class again. I only discovered this at the very last minute and raced out the door hoping to make it on time. I had taken the class about 4-5 years ago but my experience of Cheryl is that there's always something new and it was utterly relaxing as usual. She is the soul of kindness, and hugely talented.
Much gratitude to all who teach.
A compilation of random thoughts this fine spring morning.
1. Aren't these buttons fun? I found them online and loved them, probably because they remind me of various patterns used in Zentangle® and also of patterns used in Oriental Rugs. I'm hoping to use them in some tangling projects. And maybe one or two will inspire a rug.
They are a collection of tiny mandalas.
2. I spotted this beauty yesterday on a walk. Yowza! A "button"/mandala created by Mother Nature herself, and what a beauty. There has to be a tangle design (or a rug) in there somewhere.
The plant goes by the unglamorous name of Osteospermum, also known as "Flower Power White." It stopped me in my tracks on my walk. Just an amazing flower; it positively glowed.
3. This is a partially-done panel on the bottom (yes, the bottom) of a tan paper box. I've been working on this for two weeks and the going has been slow because I don't have all that much time to tangle right now. Below you can see the completed design. It will probably take me another month to finish.
Alas, I couldn't quite get that photo above to come out straight-on, but you get the idea.
The same box, vertical photo. I still couldn't get a straight-on image.
I don't have the box in front of me but I'm guessing that the dimensions are about 9" long, about 2" wide, and perhaps and inch-and-a-half tall, with a cover that flips open. I have a button to sew on when I'm done with the tangling and will use that for a closure (not one of the buttons shown at the top of this post).
4. Spring has fully sprung here and today we're having stunningly beautiful weather; up until today there have been very few sunny days and plenty of soggy ones.
May all the lovely colors, sounds, and scents of spring fill your senses today.
(At least in the Northern Hemisphere)
If you read the previous post, you'll know that I accidentally left one of these triangular tiles behind (so only had five of them as of yesterday) after a wonderful weekend of tangling. I re-drew it today and put together this pizza-like mosaic. It's the bottom one with the pinky-lavender color. Pizza-pizza! Speaking of which, I think I'll go have some (non-pizza) dinner.
Curses...I just got back from a long-awaited weekend of tangling, only to realize that because of a miscommunication I left this tile behind by accident. I may or may not get it back, so I'll have to wait and see if it turns up in my mailbox soon. If not, I am hoping I can re-draw it. It was one of my favorites. Thank goodness I took a photo of it before it got lost in the shuffle.
More to come once I have a chance to take pictures of the other work we did.
What I've noticed:
The later in the day I tangle and the more exhausted I am, the better. Or so it seems as I observe over time.
That critical inner voice, sometimes quite loud during the day, apparently develops laryngitis by late at night when I'm tired. And so I frequently love not only the process, but also the results.
I like this one, done at midnight last night.
“The good news is that opportunities for love enter our lives unpredictably, whether or not we’ve perfected self-compassion or befriended our inner critic.”
Before I retired, I often wore pins as a decoration when I went to my office. But now that I spend my time in jeans and t-shirts, the pins are languishing. Here is a pin I never wore, a cameo. I love it (and used to have a much larger one which was far more lovely, but it was stolen during a break-in at my former residence) but I never wore it. Not once. I simply had it because it reminded me of some positive things from my childhood. Since it was just languishing away, I re-purposed it onto a card with some tangling. I may put it into a shadow-box frame.
This may or may not be a genuine cameo (there are plenty of plastic fakes out there) but it doesn't matter to me. It has sentimental value.
In these troubled and challenging times, it's my deepest hope that all of us are supported by a network of unconditionally loving people in our lives. I'm defining these "beloveds" as very dear friends, mentors, and special family.
Unfortunately, we are not all lucky enough to be born into families with members who end up becoming beloved. But in my family there were three people who fit this category.
Today I took some time to re-frame the first of them, my beloved maternal grandmother, or Nana as I called her. She died over 50 years ago, but I think of her and send her my love and thanks to her every single day. She is never far from my mind. Oh, how I loved that woman. She taught me every good thing I have become, or hope to become. Here she is.
The photo was taken in 1937 when she was about 60. I have only two photographs of her because she absolutely hated having her picture taken. As a young adult I was shocked to discover that she'd gone through our family photographs and cut her own face out of every one of them. I never had the chance to ask her why she did this, and it puzzles me to this day.
My understanding is that she was forced to quit school around age 12 in order to go to work, and later on she raised a large family single-handedly after her husband became extremely ill and was hospitalized for decades. She had a lot of shame about her lack of formal schooling.
And yet, she was the kindest, funniest, most loving and smartest person in my childhood, and created a strong family foundation for me. She lived with us until her death when I was about 16. Lucky me! I got to spend every day with her for sixteen years.
I never stop asking myself how I was fortunate enough to have her in my life.
Rest well, Nana. And thank you.
Trees are in bud, the buds looking bigger each passing day. There is a small maple on my front lawn with large tight red buds. I worry about this tree as it was mistreated in the past, but despite all that, it's resilient and looking pretty darned good. I'm guessing I'll see leaves within a week or so. I think of this tree as courageous and persistent. May it have a peaceful and ease-filled summer growth season this year.
A few days ago I begin work on this tile below. Because I'm so busy it took days to finish, even though it's a very small piece. It's clearly Spring-inspired.
This morning I snuck in one more tile when I should have been working on something else. I am a world-class procrastinator, especially when whatever I am supposed to be doing is preventing me from making art.
A "cartouche"-based tangled piece using Doodah on a black post-card-sized paper. Maria Thomas did the calligraphy of the word Gratitude; it was enclosed on a business card inside one of my orders, and I loved it. I pasted it onto the black page, along with the Zentangle® chop (the red square at the bottom right, which I embellished) and used white gellyroll, gold gellyroll, and red General's chalk pencil, gold metallic Prismacolor.
And now, back to the big projects. Sigh.
I'm working on two mammoth projects, neither of which is related to textiles or drawing. Alas. So not much artwork can be done for awhile. But I am sneaking in occasional minutes to do a little of each on the sly, and here is the progress of my textile work, a punch needle embroidery I've been working on.
This is a partial photo as only half of the center is done. I am truly missing my art work but I know I need to put my nose to the grindstone (where DID that expression come from?) and work at the other projects until they are done. Although I suspect I'll have the occasional jailbreak along the way, in rebellion.
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