Friday, December 27, 2013

Gelli on my Plate

"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous."  Bill Moyers

A few weeks ago I got a  Gelli Arts printing plate as a Hanukkah present from my husband. It wasn't a total surprise since it was on my short wish list, but nevertheless I was very excited to see it. I'd read all about it and seen many videos and pictures of prints that people had made with it. I was intrigued and figured there must be lots of ways to incorporate Zentangle with these types of prints.

For those of you who aren't familiar with a gel printing plate, you should check out my link above, but in a nutshell, it is a printing plate made out of a gel-like plastic. You apply acrylic paint to the surface and then add and subtract color and designs using many different kinds of tools, stencils, brushes, etc. Then you lay paper on top of it, rub with your hands, and lift the paper off with the print on it.

A couple of days ago it was time to play. I pulled out my small supply of acrylic paints, a pile of white cardstock, some stencils, and some wedges (the wedges were a gift from my daughter). I won't explain the process here since I certainly don't claim to be an expert, and there are plenty of videos to watch online of people who have a better idea of what they're doing. But I will say that I went through lots of paper, and was not happy with most of the prints I made. Here's a picture of one of only a couple of prints that I liked.

I used a tulip stencil from Joggles, a wedge, and another flower stencil from Crafters Workshop. I painted, brayered (to roll the paint over the gelli plate), stenciled, and printed, then painted some more, brayered some more, stenciled some more, and printed again. Adding layers gives it lots of depth, but unfortunately I was not always satisfied with my combinations. In the above picture I got the results I was going for - white tulips to tangle with a colorful, layered background.

So next (after lots of cleanup) it was on to the tangling. At this point (probably a little late to be thinking about it), I wasn't sure how my Microns would work on top of all the layers of acrylic paint. I've worked on water color before, but never acrylic. Luckily I had no problem with the pen. When I was done tangling I wasn't so sure whether or not they looked like tulips or just lollipops! I outlined the petals which helped give them more definition....still not sure if I should grow them or eat them.

Then I decided to try some pencil shading, not so sure how that would work on top of the paint. But again, like with the pen, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. I don't know if it's really visible in the picture below, but the shading did help to give the flowers some more definition.

Admittedly, I need to do lots more playing with the Gelli Plate to get better at it. There's always a learning curve when trying a new product. I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve for next time, in an attempt to make the tangling stand out more. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Now I Know My ABCs...Next Time Won't You Sing With Me

"If plan A didn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool."  Kane Arreo

When my first (and only) grandchild was born, about 22 months ago, my mind immediately started imagining all the things I could tangle for him. First was the letter "H" (his name is Hudson) with tangles all around it, to hang on his bedroom wall. Next was a little stool with a nautical theme to match the decor in his room. Then I began an ABC book. I am stenciling the letters of the alphabet, one capital and lowercase letter on each page. When they're done I'll add pictures of things that start with each letter, and then have it all made into a book. I won't be drawing those pictures - I can tangle, but I can't draw. 

Here are a few of the letters I've completed so far.

The first letter I designed had more than one tangle pattern, but I decided that made it harder to read the letters. For a little boy first learning the alphabet, I knew that one tangle per letter would make it easier for him. 

I started this about a year ago, but got sidetracked by so may things. It's time to get back to it so I'll have it finished before Hudson starts high school! And we are eagerly awaiting the birth of his little sister, Brooklyn, due May 1, so I will have to get to work soon on some tangled projects for her. Any ideas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

"The first step to believing something is true is wanting to believe it is true."  Terry Goodkind

I decided to write a quick post because I have a cute little anecdote to share. A few days ago I got an email that someone had started an Etsy conversation with me. I sell greeting cards in my Etsy shop, including holiday cards. A woman saw my cards there and sent me this message: 

"My 8-year-old son is a huge zentangle fan after learning about it in art class. His ONLY wish from Santa this year is a "handmade zentangle card of Santa" made by the big man himself. Of course, I want it to be perfect and keep the Santa magic alive but I don't have the talent to do it myself! Is this something you would be interested in doing?"

How could I resist that? So, after discussing it with her a little further, this is what I made.

I finished it this afternoon and listed it on Etsy so she could see it and make her purchase. Thankfully, she loves it. And hopefully her son will too. Hope it keeps the magic alive for him! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blowin' in the Wind

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."     Edgar Degas

I decided to play around with something new this week. I've seen this technique demonstrated in various books, blogs, etc., and have been meaning to try it for a while. You may be wondering what I'm talking about. I'm calling it a blown ink design. Blowing ink around a paper through a straw. Here's how I started.

Well, that's not exactly how I started. First I went through many trial runs. The idea is to drop some acrylic ink on a piece of paper and then use a combination of tilting the paper and blowing through a straw to push the ink around the paper in random designs. I tested several different kinds of paper before deciding on the one that worked best. I tried 90 lb.watercolor paper, 140 lb. watercolor paper, bristol paper, mixed media paper, and canvas. The only one that seemed to work for me was the 90 lb. paper. On all the others I found the ink immediately sunk into the paper and did not move around much. So after several tries, the above design is what I ended up with. 

The next step was to add color using some watercolor medium. My choices were several different paints, watercolor pencils, liquid watercolors, and Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons. I decided on the crayons, and the result is shown below. It reminds me of stained glass, which is what I used to do in a past lifetime, so I think it's kind of pretty.

Of course the final step was to tangle. When coloring I made the decision to leave a few spaces white, and when tangling I decided to leave a few spaces untangled. It was during the tangling that I realized maybe the water soluble crayons were not the best choice for adding color. I had some problems with the Micron 01 and 02 tips getting clogged up, I assume from the wax in the crayons. When I used the Apprentice pen with an 05 plastic type nib, the results were much better. Lesson learned for next time.

I turned the paper round and round deciding which way is up, and settled on the above when I saw what looked like a boot in it. My husband says he sees a face. Anyone see something else?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Having a ball

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."   Babe Ruth

Not too long ago, fellow CZT Kelley Kelly shared a picture of a piece of scrapbook paper on which she had added her tangling. You should check out more of her wonderful work on her blog, but here's what she created on that scrapbook paper.

I thought it was beautiful and a great idea, so I immediately went through my stash of paper to see what I had. Unfortunately I didn't find anything appropriate. So off to the store I went to find some inspiring papers. I still couldn't find anything that I thought was as cool as Kelley's paper, but I selected several to bring home and play with.

One thing I picked out was a paper to make something for my son (all grown-up and a sports editor at a newspaper). Here's a picture of the paper.

Perfect for a sports fanatic, don't you think? I tangled, put it in a mat, and framed it. This picture doesn't show it framed because it would be hard to a take a picture without reflections.

I made it for my son's birthday which was last week, but I couldn't post it until now, because rather than mailing it to him (far away from us in Mississippi), I saved it to bring with us since we're visiting him for Thanksgiving. Didn't want him to see this blog before I gave it to him and spoil the surprise.

I'll soon be working on some of the other papers I bought and will share them here (if I like the results!)

Thanks Kelley for the inspiration, and happy birthday Josh!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

If at First You Don't Succeed...Try Something Else

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."   Edwin Land

A new tangle pattern, Quib, was recently released by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, and this week's Diva challenge was to use Quib in a Zentangle. Well, I tried....and tried....and tried again. I wasn't happy with any of them. I think Quib is a very nice pattern....when someone else does it. I've looked at the entries to the challenge, and saw some beautiful pieces. But for some reason, when I tried it, it seemed to fall flat. Wasn't quite sure what to do with it, what the next step should be after Quib. So...I gave up. At least for now. 

Instead, I decided to try another new pattern, Mak-rah-mee, by Shelly Beauch. I feel that there are some similarities between Mak-rah-mee and Quib, with them both being very free-form, flowing, rippling tangles. However, I was far more satisfied with the outcome of my efforts with this one. I added auras both inside and out of all the areas and this is what I got.

Then I decided to play with some color. I used Tombow Irojiten colored pencils to color the "strings" in my piece. 

This was a lot of fun to do, but I think I may like the black and white version better.  Maybe one day I'll try Quib again...after a little respite from it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Day at the Fair

"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate."  George Burns

The big day has come and gone...the crafts fair. And was it a big day? Hate to keep you in suspense, but you'll have to read a little further.

I'll start with the positives. The weather was pretty good, considering the possibilities. My booth space was outside on a screened porch. Some spaces were inside, some in a screened porch, and some outside. I had asked for inside, but of course I didn't get that. We live in SC so I wasn't really worried about the temperature, but was worried about wind and rain. The morning started out quite chilly for us at this time of year, but it warmed up and was comfortable most of the day. Skies were partly sunny/partly cloudy, with no rain in sight.

I was told the space was going to be 4 ft. x 6 ft., which is much smaller than I've experienced at past fairs, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually bigger and I had room for a second table that I wasn't expecting to be able to use. Set-up was quick and easy as we didn't have to lug everything really far. I was very happy with my display...the way the card gallery worked out, and the racks my husband created for holding the wooden words I made.

My friends all came out to support me and I made some good sales to them. A big thank you to any of them who may be reading this.

Here are some photos of what my booth looked like.

Now for the not so good news. The crowds were not there. They came by in dribs and drabs. I blame it on the lack of publicity, as I saw very little advertising around town or in the local media. Other than my friends, I only made 3 sales. I sold, I think, a total of 49 cards, but more to friends than anyone else. Most people walked by the booth with barely a glance.

So the big question is...was it worth it? Would I do it again next year? I'm not sure yet. Based on sales alone, probably not. But a few people did show interest in taking a class. If I get at least a couple of new students because of the fair it will have been worthwhile. If not, I likely will not apply to do the fair again.

Now that it's done and over with, I've reopened my Etsy shop with my cards, and hope that maybe I'll get more business there than I did at the fair. In case anyone out there is interested, you can take a look at my shop here. Through November 24th you can use the coupon code BLOG5PCT to save 5% off any order of $20 or more.

If any of you have crafts fair experiences you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them. For me, it's on to my next endeavor. Not sure exactly what that is yet, but probably planning some new classes to offer after the first of the year....for all those people from the fair who are going to be banging on my door!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cruzing Around

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."    Henry David Thoreau

Well, the big day will be here tomorrow. The crafts fair I've been focused on for the last few weeks. With the last cards hot off the press, and everything packed up in the car ready to go in the morning (bright and early...way too early), I can take a deep breath and 

For the Diva's challenge this week, the UMT (Use My Tangle), was MY tangle - Cruze. I was very surprised since I just submitted it and know there were already many on the list waiting to be picked. Of course I knew that I had to at least submit something to the challenge since it is my tangle, but being sooo busy this week getting ready for tomorrow, I didn't have much time. I finally sat down this afternoon and gave it a whirl. Although I haven't gotten the chance to look at what everyone else has done for this challenge (I will on Sunday, I promise), I did peek at just a few of them and loved what I saw. When I saw the beautiful tile that fellow CZT Cris Letourneau created, with Cruze in the round, I decided that's what I would try for this challenge. Here's what I came up with.
It's not quite as circular as I had hoped, but not too bad since I didn't use any guidelines. When it was finished, it reminded me of a Christmas ornament. That was not my intention, but I guess that's what happens after working on holiday cards for the last few weeks. 

I hope everyone had fun using Cruze for the challenge this week, and I can't wait to see the rest of the entries....Sunday. Off for some sleep now so I will be bright eyed and bushy tailed to make my fortune tomorrow!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's the Hap-Happiest Season of All

"Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale they say. He was made of snow, but the children know how he came to life one day."    Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson

Since I decided to design a line of note cards (see my last blog post), I've been working non-stop to get as many designs completed as possible before the crafts fair I'm participating in on November 9th. I've had no time to tangle anything besides my cards, so I thought I would share a couple more of them here.

Although it's not even Halloween yet, the Christmas decorations are already out in all the stores, and everyone is starting to think ahead towards the winter holidays. Including me, as I design my holiday cards. After taking a survey of my friends as to whether they would prefer their holiday cards to be small (5½ x 4¼ inches), or large (5 x 7 inches), I decided to go large. As was pointed out, some people like to insert 4 x 6 photos in with the cards, so I took  that into consideration in making my decision. This snowman is the image on one of the cards, and is definitely my favorite one so far. I love snowmen and used to have a large collection of snowmen of all kinds. Since moving to a place where there is no snow, I gave up my collection (which means giving up some of the clutter too!), so this little guy makes me happy.

Then I decided to add a pop of color. Although I had used markers to add color to some of my other designs, I decided to use colored pencil for this one so I would have a better chance of neatly getting color into the point of his nose with the sharp tip of the pencil.

I love him either way, with or without color.

Tangling is the easy part of making these cards. The hard part is printing them so the blacks look really black, and the colors are as bright as they are in my original pieces. I think we've figured out the black part, but we're still working on the colors. The following ornament design is driving me crazy - the colors don't have enough pizazz when printed, but I think changing to glossy paper for the colored designs will help with that problem. Keeping my fingers crossed while I wait for the glossy cards to be delivered. In the meantime, I added some glitter to the ornaments on the couple of cards I printed, using a clear Wink of Stella brush which definitely helped (but is not pictured here).
The ornament on the upper right had me nearly pulling out my hair. That was the last one I worked on, and after spending a lot of time on the rest of it, I was not happy at all with this ornament. I made the band across the middle with the teal color to match the other ornament, and then added a brighter blue. Was not happy with that at all. It took a while, but I finally figured out how to remedy this (after all, there are no mistakes in Zentangle, right?). I pulled out a gold Sharpie paint pen and it easily covered the bright blue (mistake), leaving no trace of the blue. Hooray! Once I saw the gold on it, that's when I decided to add silver to the rest of it. Now I'm okay with this card......if only I can get it to print the colors the way I see them here!

I know it's a little early, but happy holidays to all!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

House of Cards

"I squirrel away sealed greeting cards that people give me so I can open them later when I’m having a bad day."    Emily Procter

Next month I will be participating in a crafts fair to sell my Zentangles and Zentangle inspired art work.  I was disappointed to find out that my space will be very small, basically one six foot table. So I wasn't planning on working on anything new for the fair, since I already have way more items than will fit on my table. But something possessed me to introduce a new product at my table - note cards. I will have big cards and little, blank cards to add a personal note to, and holiday cards since that time of year is fast approaching. Here is just a sample of a few of the designs that will be available on my cards. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be busy adding as many card designs to my repertoire as possible. I'm hoping that the cards will be a popular item as they are useful and have a low price point. My Etsy shop will soon be reopened (after being shut down for a while), with my new line of cards. I'll let you know how the fair goes next month. Wish me luck! (If the last two fairs I participated in were any indication, I will need all the luck I can get!)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Crazy 8s (Part 2)

"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory."  George S Patton

Just a quick post today, much shorter than my last one. But first I have to say thank you for all the wonderful comments I received on my new pattern Cruze. I'd love to see what you all do with it, so I just entered it in the "Use my Tangle" part of the Diva's challenge. We'll see if it ever gets picked - there are an awful lot of tangles already on her list!

This week's Diva challenge is to use Jane Eileen's "8s Parte Dos" pattern. I think I played with it for a very short time when it first came out, but didn't give it the time it needed. So this week I sat down and worked it out...I think! I agree with everyone who is saying that it takes a lot of focus. I didn't find it hard to know which direction to curve the lines (after a few practices), but I thought the hard part was lining up the black dots properly. Did anyone else find that part difficult? So you will see, or maybe you won't, that in my Zentangle I purposely tried to make them grow a little bigger as I went so that I wouldn't get frustrated when they didn't line up perfectly.

It reminds me of one of those flower pots that have holes all over for the plants to peek out of. I was challenged by this one, but I guess that's why it's called the Diva's challenge!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cruze - A New Pattern

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts."   Aristotle

Last month my husband and I went on a cruise to Norway. We've been on several cruises in the past, so I knew that the ship would be a mecca of patterns, and I wasn't disappointed. Patterns on walls, floors, furniture, lights. In other words, everywhere you looked there were patterns, even on the water in the North Sea. Walking through the ship taking pictures of walls and floors and furniture....I can only imagine what the other passengers must have thought! It took a few weeks, but finally I got around to deconstructing some of those patterns to come up with the step-outs for new tangle patterns.

But before I get to that, I wanted to share a few of the patterns I saw that I did not try to pick apart. This first one is a light hanging from the ceiling of one of the lounges. Does anyone else see Mooka in there?

Here are two more - the one on the left was on a wall, and the one on the right was a floor which reminds me of Dex. 

This one is an etched glass door with a wall of different colored lights behind it. Zendala?

The next one was a fabric covered wall (with metal strips dividing it into a grid, just like a tangle pattern).

These two were taken in a store in the town of Bergen.

When I took the following photo I wasn't really focusing on the water, but once I put it on my computer I was immediately drawn to the pattern that the water made in the wake of the boat going by.

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of the roof on this building next to where our ship docked in Eidfjord.

Last, but not least, is this photo of a tiled border going around the pool deck on the ship. This is the first one that I have deconstructed (at least a part of it). 


I have named the pattern "Cruze" in honor of where it came from. 
You start with "blocks" of 5 lines forming a diagonal. At first I tried very hard to get the lines to form a square block, but realized it really doesn't matter if they are squares or rectangles, or whether each one is the same size as the next one. Once you get the flow of the curved lines connecting those blocks, it really isn't hard. You go down one side (step 4) then turn and go back up the other side (step 5). On the last step you cap off the two ends. 

I enjoyed playing around with this pattern, but got really excited about it when I created the following variation. If you place the blocks of lines in a skewed manner like shown below, you get a really interesting variation that has a lot of movement. The top section is unshaded and the bottom one is shaded. 

On the following Zentangle I used the original pattern, but added a little bit of black fill, and really think it makes the pattern pop. I turned the picture 45 degrees to post it here because as I was looking at it I tilted my head and liked what I saw. It looks to me like a hanging basket of flowers.
Then I used the Cruze variation to design the following piece. I just LOVE the way this one turned out. This is definitely one of my favorite Zentangles ever.

Stay tuned for more new patterns coming soon. Maybe one will be called Norway.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Try Something New

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
Walt Disney

A new month, a new season, and some new supplies. Today was a day for trying out new things. For my blog post last week I used Auraknot as a string for my Zentangle. Today I used a tangleation of Auraknot as the centerpiece of my tile.

In addition to using a new tangleation, I created this Zentangle on an apprentice tile rather than a regular Zentangle tile or a page of my journal. It was my first time using the larger 4 1/2 inch tile which is made from Canson XL Bristol paper, rather than the "100% cotton, heavy-weight fine artists' paper with a beautiful vellum surface finish" (words taken from that the regular 3 1/2 inch tiles are made from. Also using the Pigma Pen 05 (that comes with the Apprentice kit) for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the pen and tile. The tile is a little brighter white, and the pen moved effortlessly across the tile's surface which is smoother than the regular Zentangle tile. It's sometimes nice to have a little bigger area to tangle on. 

One more new toy I played with today was a gold Wink of Stella brush. You can see a little bit of the glittery shimmer in this picture, but it's much more obvious in person. 

I also have a clear Wink of Stella brush which applies the glittery look on top of any color you paint it on. I love the effect of these brushes, especially the fact that they are so glittery without the mess of glitter, so I just placed my order for several more colors. They should be great for making holiday cards. I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Circles and Squares

"The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet."
Andy Warhol

This week's Diva challenge was to do a duotangle (a Zentangle using two tangle patterns), with Knightsbridge (checkerboard) and Tipple (circles). A study in opposites, squares and circles. 

My first try was a traditional Zentangle with some variations of Knightsbridge along with Tipple interspersed between the squares. But it was much too busy looking and just didn't live up to my expectations.

So I decided to give it another try using a totally different approach. I began with the Auraknot pattern as my string and filled the bands with alternating rows of Knightsbridge and Tipple. After adding a little extra Tipple and some shading I was finished, and much more satisfied with this tile.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Color my World

“Mere color ... can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”
Oscar Wilde

I haven't posted in a while because I just returned home from a vacation cruising Norway.  A cruise ship is a great place for pattern inspiration - everywhere you go on the ship there are patterns. So in addition to beautiful photos of scenery, I have lots of pictures of patterns - not typical of most vacationers. I'm hoping to recreate some of them as tangle patterns, but that will have to wait a little while since I'm busy with many other things right now. 

When I saw the Diva's challenge this week was to add color, I was thrilled, knowing that I'd be able to post a couple of entries to the challenge right away. One of the things keeping me busy right now is preparing to teach a class on Zendalas, so I am working on lots of samples. Here is one that I probably would not have added color to had it not been for the challenge. I used Twinkling H2Os in colors that remind me of autumn since it technically begins in a few days, although here in SC fall doesn't pay much attention to what the calendar says.

Here is another zendala where I started by painting a random watercolor wash for the background using my Koi watercolor set. The background was painted before I left on my cruise - based on these colors I must have had the ocean on my mind.

Although I do love the traditional black and white Zentangles, I must say that adding a little color now and then brightens things up.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Takin' Care of Business

“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
Peter F. Drucker  

Last week I attended a marketing retreat in Dallas for CZTs, led by CZT Angie Vangalis. It was an amazing three days filled with information and inspiration for moving my Zentangle business forward. In addition to the business information shared, we worked on several fun projects, some of which will turn into new classes that I'll be offering in the near future. I'm sharing photos of a few of those projects here. 

This first one is an illuminated letter that I tangled on the front cover of a journal. The glimmer in the letter "C" is not clearly visible in the picture, but was the result of using Fine Tec paints in one of the golds found in the pearl colors set. A white charcoal pencil was used to create the white highlights.

Here is a picture showing an interesting way to use a tangle pattern as the string for other tangles. To begin, I drew W2 and then used a few other tangles (Hypnotic, Printemps, Dex, and Jalousie) to fill the spaces formed by W2. I also used one misplaced Hybrid which doesn't belong there, but there are no mistakes in Zentangle so I just went with it!

This last picture shows some tangling on a background made with random watercolor paint strokes. It's such a fun, simple way to add a little color to your designs.

I was happy with the way all three of these projects turned out. And happy with my whole experience in Dallas. I hope to get to see my new CZT friends, who came from all over the country, again soon.