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Zentangle ideas

Zentangle Inspirations
Learn a new craft!
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What is a Zentangle?
A Zentangle is basically a flowing series of lines that create a beautiful piece of art. The process reduces stress and improves your focus while you create. Anyone from young children to art-challenged adults can design a Zentangle. It can contain any number of repetitive designs, and there is no limit to the creative art forms it can inspire. Some people call it “doodling,” but it is much more than that.

Note: Traditional Zentangles were developed by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, who use them as a ritual way to meditate and create a sense of well-being. Their mantra is "Anything is possible one stroke at a time." Suzanne McNeill, a Certified Zentangle Teacher and owner of Design Originals Publications, introduced Zentangles to the craft industry with her Zentangle Basics and Zentangle 2 books. These projects were inspired directly by their work. For more information, see end of article.

You will need:
•  Pencils*: one H (for drawing), one 2B (for shading)
•  Permanent fine-point pens*
•  3 1/2" x 3 1/2" paper tiles cut from lightweight, smooth surface watercolor paper or cardstock
•  Optional: Water-based dual Brush Pens* in colors of your choice
              Colorless blender
        Plastic blending palette (an overhead transparency sheet, old CD, or any                              
                                                          piece of smooth plastic)
•  Note: Individual projects contain additional materials.

*The following products were used for these projects: Amate Studio bezels • Environmental Technology Inc. Envirotex-Lite, EasyCast 2-part epoxy resin coatings • Magenta card blanks, stamps • Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pen • Sharpie permanent pen • Shiva Paintstiks (available from Dharma Trading Co.) • The Crafter’s Workshop patterned stencils • Tombow Mono pencils, Dual Brush Pens.

Note: For product information, including Zentangle books & starter kit, see end of article.

Make a Zentangle

STEP 1: Create sections.
Use H pencil to make a dot in each corner of paper tile. Connect dots. Divide penciled square with guidelines (strings) that can be simple curved or straight lines.

STEP 2: Draw pattern. Use permanent pen to draw a repetitive pattern, or “tangle”, in each section. Every section does not need to be filled with a pattern.

STEP 3: Shade pattern. Shade patterns with a 2B pencil to give them depth and more interest. The original pencil lines are part of design and are not erased.

STEP 4: Color pattern (optional). Although not a traditional Zentangle technique, designs can also be colored with water-based blendable pens. To color design, place colors onto plastic palette. Use brush point and have at least a 1" diameter of each color.
Use blender pen like a paintbrush, picking up color from palette with brush point. Apply color where you want darkest shades, and color until motif is completely colored or color has faded to clear. This non-direct coloring method makes it easy to shade color from dark to light and to mix colors by layering one color over another.
Note: Let first color dry before adding a second color on top. Do not overwork coloring as it may start to ‘pill’ paper. Using a smooth watercolor paper will prevent this.

Zentangle Inspirations

Zentangle Cards
Cards were made on 5" x 5" watercolor paper tiles and mounted on 5 1/4" square card blanks. Each was made in the traditional fashion and colored, using an analogous color selection (colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel). One is in warm tones of reds, oranges, yellows and browns, and the other is in blues and greens.
The warm-toned card is an example of themed tangles, using a sewing theme to inspire zipper, button, stitches, and thread patterns.

Galloping Rabbit Card

This card started with a colorful background created by spritzing water on a plastic palette covered in purple, pink, and blue pen colors. Put paper face down into color, rub, and lift. Let colors dry completely to create a colorful and interesting background for creating Zentangles.
Color a rabbit rubber stamp with a light pen color and stamp onto paper. Use pencil to add “strings” and divide into sections. Outline stamped rabbit and draw in “tangles” using permanent pen. Add more color with pens.
The finished panel is 3" x 4", mounted first on a piece of teal cardstock and then onto a green card blank with a folded size of 4 1/2" x 6". Use a fine-tipped green pen to add a quote around edge.


Turn your favorite Zentangles into coasters! Glue onto 4 1/4" square white tiles using a thin-bodied white glue. Seal paper pieces with two thin coats of white glue and let dry completely. Pour on a two-part resin coating to give a high-gloss waterproof finish. After curing, add cork buttons to bottom of tiles to protect furniture surface.

Accent Pillow

Patterned stencils are perfect to create this Zentangle inspired project. You will need a 15" square ready-made white pillow blank, freezer paper, masking tape, patterned stencils, stencil brush, and a black Shiva Paintstik. Remove stuffing from pillow blank. 
Cut a 12" square from freezer paper. Use a pencil to divide square into sections. Cut sections out, keeping them in order. Iron freezer paper sections, shiny side down, onto front of pillow blank. Mask off square with masking tape. Remove each section and stencil on pattern. When a section is complete, tape freezer paper back over to mask off stenciling. Repeat with every section using a different pattern. When finished, remove freezer paper sections and masking tape to reveal your stenciled Zentangle. Re-stuff pillow. Sew opening closed.

Zentangle Frame

Zane’s tiger-painted face inspired a themed Zentangle frame. Materials needed are a 10" square frame with a 3 3/4" square opening, 90 lb. smooth finish watercolor paper, white glue, bone folder, pencil, permanent black pen, Dual Brush Pens, and an artist’s fixative spray.
Brush on a thin layer of white glue to face of frame. Glue on an 11" x 11" piece of watercolor paper, pressing down firmly with bone folder. It is important not to get any glue on front of paper. When glue has dried completely, trim off excess paper around edge and inside opening.
Use a pencil to add “strings” and create sections. Draw in jungle themed “tangles” and color with pens. When finished, spray with two to three light coats of fixative spray to protect.

Zentangle Jewelry
Wear Zentangles in exquisite jewelry pieces! Cut traditional Zentangles to fit bezels. Then pour on a 2-part resin to beatify and protect. Follow manufacture’s directions for sealing paper pieces and pouring into bezels.


Amate International


Environmental Technology Inc.
(800) 368-9323

Magenta Rubber Stamps
(450) 922-5253

Sakura of America
(800) 776-6257


Shiva Paintstiks
(800) 542-5227

The Crafter's Workshop
(877) 272-3837

(800) 835-3232

Zentangle Website
(Resources, Zentangle beginner’s kit, supplies, list of certified teachers, information on workshops, and a gallery of projects)
Zentangle Books
Zentangle Basics by Suzanne McNeill, Design Originals
Zentangle 2 by Suzanne McNeill, Design Originals

Zentangle Cards Zentangle Pillow Zentangle Coasters
Zentangle Frame Zentangle Pendant Zentangle Jewelry
comment By Kayne @ Sunday, December 12, 2010 9:48 AM
I'm a card making fan, and am always looking for inspiration for new ideas. This could well be another option. Right now, I use mainly stamps, since I'm hopeless as an artist, but this is something I could probably do - especially since I'm always doodling! I will definitely be exploring this further. I'm also a Stampin' Up Demonstrator (www.kayne.stampinup.net), and could use this quite easily in some of my card making club meetings. Thank you for this article.


comment By craftsrosen @ Wednesday, January 05, 2011 11:21 AM
I really like the Zentangle items. It as inspired me to try them. I wil let you now ow I did. Rita

comment By edenbeading @ Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:48 PM
If anyone was inspired and tried out this technique, PLEASE post about your experience and the outcome. I am very curious as I do not quite get the instructions.

comment By craftydr @ Tuesday, September 06, 2011 2:13 PM
I love to Zentangle which I have been doing since 2009 now. It is very relaxing and does make very nice art. There are groups on flickr that are just for this new art form and many are doing this.
I have a book by Marie Browning that is now out called "Time To Tangle With Colors" which has her work and detailed tangles and show her painting as she described here and it is a good book to get. It can be found on Amazon. The book is produced by Design Originals and there are many zentangle books produced by Design Originals now that are all fantastic with step by step instrutions.
I have been coloring these designs sometime but use Sharpie Ultra Fine colored markers, but Marie's method using Tombow markers and a blending pen and palate of some sort is also amazing.
Check our flickr group of Zentangle and see the amazing work people are doing and even though black and white is the prefered art form, many of us do color and make amazing pieces.
My work is also on flickr and Milliande's ning group for women artists whether beginners or advanced artists. My work is in many groups on flickr under craftydr. I would hope you check it out and let me know what you think. You can leave comments on each piece or work by all people posting and if you leave any on my work please let me know that you saw this posting.

comment By kashley1 @ Friday, November 25, 2011 2:50 PM
I have watched demonstrations on the PBS channel on scrapbooking memories. They call it doodeling but have also called it Zentangel.

comment By BABBOTT @ Saturday, December 10, 2011 10:05 PM
The Zentangles are beautiful. I love the way she colored them. I have made a few, but this has inspired me to continue making them, or at least start again.

comment By Naticris @ Monday, March 12, 2012 9:19 PM
If anyone does want to learn how to Zentangle without buying the books, go to YouTube search Zentangle. There are a lots of free instructions on how to do it.

comment By BABBOTT @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 7:39 AM
I love tangling. Been doing it for about 6 months now. All my Christmas gifts were made Zentangling. If you haven't tried it, you should.

comment By dricotta @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:09 PM
I love Zentangling, I have made several cards for people and they are with the person in mind and I have made ATC cards and a canvas with Zentangling. They make great gifts. It really does relax you!
Darlene Ricotta

comment By gizzyoda @ Saturday, March 16, 2013 9:45 PM
I just recently started to zentangle. I absolutely love it. I have several of the design original books and they are a great help when you are first starting out. I have pages and pages of different patterns that I have tried. I did complete one, that I really liked, so I photocopied it and made a card for my grandson who is really in to art. I am curious to find out what he thinks about it. It is relaxing, something you can do while watching tv, or just sitting around visiting. Definitely worth a try if you like to doodle.

comment By dricotta @ Saturday, March 16, 2013 11:19 PM
I too love Zentangling. I have sent cards as gifts with zentagling on them. Everyone seems happy with them and it is something I can do and never a one is the same. I went on a trip to Washington and did a Zentangle based on my trip. It turned out pretty neat and I Zentangled a guy sitting on a bench across from me and have the shape of him but in Zentangling and he never knew he was being tangled. I understand my Zentangle story and I love it for the memories. It is really a relaxing art craft.
I have gotten several books I want to try and am getting an alphabet one too.
It is great.

comment By Naticris @ Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:07 PM
I will like to know how to come up with the final composition? I mean the final card design. How to choose the different sections to complete a final image? Do you have any recommendations?
Thank you.

comment By dricotta @ Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:50 AM
My take on coming up with a final compostion from what I have seen is by moving the different sections together and see what is the most pleasing together. Like lines that match together and fit into the picture that you see in your mind. Or maybe make a matching design, line or circles to touch on each section. then go from there.

comment By Naticris @ Wednesday, September 11, 2013 7:47 PM
Thank you Dricotta, I will try your suggestion.

comment By jdpassion8 @ Saturday, October 05, 2013 8:58 AM
my daughter has been doing a version of this since she was little. She did the trim boards in her room and added glow in the dark paint to them. They turned out awesome. She incorporated a lot of circles (swirls) in hers and they are a testament to the years of crafting we have done together. :)

comment By dricotta @ Sunday, February 16, 2014 12:17 AM
I can't remember how I got into zentangling but it is a great way to make a journal of when you are traveling you can zentangle the things you see as well as the design around it, and have a story to tell when you get home.

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