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Vendor Spotlight: Zentangle

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk


According to the Zentangle website, a Zentangle is “an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.” I recently received a Zentangle Kit which contains: an instructional mini DVD, full size DVD, instruction book, heavyweight artist’s paper tiles, 2 Pigma Micron 01 black pens by Sakura, golf pencil, sharpener and 20-sided die in a book shaped box covered with green organic paper. These tools are all you need to create this unique artform.

I had tried unsuccessfully to create Zentangles using information from the Internet. The DVD and companon guide in the kit were what I needed to understand the process and how to replicate the patterns. I began by watching the DVD, in which several Zentangles are created from start to finish accompanied by Oriental background music. In fact there is no dialogue on the DVD. Since I like to work and “listen” rather than watch, this forced me to watch the DVD and observe the technique.

The process is rather simple:

  1. On a tile, mark several points with a pencil and connect the points to create a shape (or tangle).
  2. Draw several lines to portion the tangle into separate areas.
  3. Use a Micron pen to create a unique pattern in each section.
  4. Use the pencil to lightly shade the edges of each pattern and outer edge of the tangle and blend the pencil to give a shaded look.
  5. Add your initials near the finished tile and sign and date the back of the tile.
  6. Admire your work.

These are my first Zentangles- notice the difference between the onces I created with pencil (bottom) vs. Micron pen (top)

After waching the DVD I created my first Zentangles on copy paper, first with a pencil, then a Micron pen. The pen didn’t move smoothly and my pencil shading didn’t blend well at all. I really felt like I was dragging and the process was not fun. I grabbed a Micron pen and created 2 more Zentangles. These were better (Micron pens are some of my favorite pens for journaling).

By this point, my confidence was growing and I felt ready to “graduate” to the tiles.

Once I had created 5-6 Zentangles, I felt more confident with the basic patterns and was able to focus on enjoying the process and not following directions. Once I switched to “fun mode,” I think my Zentangles improved. My nine year-old daughter saw what I was doing and she created several pieces herself. She used a Sharpie Ultra Fine Black Marker and her designs were bolder because of the slightly wider tip. At this point, I also started experimenting with tangles that were not square, but ultimately I prefer squares.

It was easy to add pencil shading using the paper tiles that came with the kit.

Next I graduated to the tiles. What a difference- the tiles are “mould-made, acid-free, 100% cotton, heavy-weight fine artists’ paper with a beautiful vellum surface finish” and were a wonderful surface for the Micron pens. It was very easy to do the pencil shading and blending on thie surface too. The small golf pencil that came with the kit was small for me so I switched to a more common (and longer) #2 pencil and shading remained successful.

On the back of each tile is a place to sign and date your artwork.

When I completed a tile, I added my initials to the lower right corner of the Zentangle. On the back of each tile is a place to add a signature and date. I often forget to date my work so I like this reminder. In the future I want to punch a hole in the corner of some tiles, and add a metal ring to create a mini book of my designs.

Zentangles are definitely fun to create and were a fun way to relax and enjoy some quiet art time with my daughter. I like the relaxing Oriental music on the DVD. This is a very portable artform and one I can easily do while traveling. I sometimes replace form with color; because these are black and white, I am forced to focus on form.

All in all I had fun creating Zentangles. I learned a lot more from the companion guide and DVD than I did from surfing websites for information. The paper tiles are wonderful, and I loved how easy it was to work with them. Micron pens have been one of my staple pens for years, so I was happy to work with them in the kit. Rolling the 20-sided die (Icoshedron) to help me choose a tangle seemed silly to me but might be attractive to someone else. I also liked the box that stores all of the items from the kit (except the full-size DVD which doesn’t fit.) However, the price of the kit was $49.00 which was way more money than I would ever pay for a kit like this.

Pros:

  • Love the paper tiles in the kit. Wish it came with more than 34 tiles.
  • Tools come packed in a sturdy yet attractive storage box
  • Additional tiles are available (55 tiles for $29)
  • Micron pens are excellent pens and perfect for the art form
  • Online gallery for inspiration; live classes available in select areas

Cons:

  • The kit is very expensive ($49.00)

Are you familiar with Zentangles? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

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13 Responses to Vendor Spotlight: Zentangle

  1. Avatar
    Skittl1321 October 28, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    I guess I don’t understand what the product is. Is it the tile? The pens? (Which I’m familar with as their own product) Is there some tool you use to do the doodling? Or is it the instructional DVD that teaches you how to draw?

    The results are very pretty (though I’m not sure what you do with them- are they meant to stand alone as art?) but I’m not sure I understand what is being reviewed.

  2. Avatar
    Robin Beam October 28, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    I love Zentangles. Friends have become certified instructors in their stores and have a lot of great ideas. It’s very addictive. I’ve got a few samples on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28253171@N05/

    Everything’s very professionally put together…you just need your imagination!

    Robin

  3. Avatar
    Taylor (musingsofanaddict) October 28, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    Skittl1321: The product itself is the entire kit, which consists of 2 pens, 2 pencils, 34 tiles, an instructional DVD and booklet, the die, and the legend. When each one is completed, they are meant to be a reflective tool for you to contemplate. Alternatively, they are gorgeous, so they are also meant to be art!

    The DVD does show you how to draw each little tangle, and the instructional booklet provides some illustration as well. You can fin more information about the kit, its purpose, and its uses at: http://www.zentangle.com

    I hope that helps clear up some of your confusion!

  4. Avatar
    p October 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    these are pretty cool. love the name too. would love try em out.
    scrapbook-crazy.com

  5. Avatar
    Mandi October 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    I have this kit. It intimidates me! I feel like mine will never be good enough. I’ve used it once, though I take it on every trip I go on, hoping to be inspired enough to create a tiny little masterpiece of doodles.

  6. Avatar
    RosieP October 30, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    The samples shared in this review as well as the other review are cool to look at, but it would drive me nuts to make zentagles.

  7. Avatar
    Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    I thought the kit was expensive also until I went to the site and realized that It’s really only 24.99 +tax the other 25.00 goes to the instructor to help with her costs. I too tried to figure out everything on the web and came away disillusioned. I’m glad to know the trick is in the DVD and the paper! Hopefully we will get a class when our “person” comes back from her new grandchilds birth back east.

  8. Avatar
    Brad November 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Wow, $50 for supplies to doodle, that’s amazing. Looking at all the art on their website, it’s amazingly the same, don’t get any feel for any individual thought. Best thing: get any old pen and any old piece of paper, start making marks and see what happens. It’s fun, and it’s free!

  9. Avatar
    Terry December 27, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    I bought the kit and found the DVD and instruction booklet very helpful. The creators tell you that this is just intended as a starting point and encourage you to use your own patterns. Some people feel comfortable enough to do so while others feel better sticking with the published patterns. You do what makes YOU feel good. This is supposed to be about relaxing and trusting your own intuition when it comes to art. Yes, you can buy a cheap pen and use copy paper to doodle but many people need the structure that the DVD and booklet offer to feel comfortable enough to begin to try to make art. I love that this gives everyone the chance to try in a safe format.

  10. Avatar
    Ink-Pattie January 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    My doodles at work meetings where I just need to listen have gotten infinitely better since I got my Zentangle kit. I’ll take any work pen I like, a mechanical pencil for shading, and doodle on the back of the meeting agenda. Sometimes the doodles are so good, I regret that I didn’t use the archival materials in the kit! My listening skills are enhanced when I am tangling, so it works at meetings. But when I want to create art, I pull out the kit tiles and pen and allow myself to be totally immersed. I take the kit on trips and when I’m feeling frazzled, I take time to zentangle and feel better afterward. I asked for my kit as an anniversary gift, with an extra pack of tiles so I won’t hoard them. Love it!

  11. Avatar
    mb March 8, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    I ran across Zentangles a month or so ago while Stumbling around. My first thought was “someone gave doodling a cool name and figured out how to make money at it”. My second thought was, “Why can’t I be that enterprising?”.
    Yeah, cool idea, crazy expensive. But there are people out there buying anything that looks slick. Or Zen-like.

  12. Avatar
    jb June 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    If they would just drop the price maybe 10 bucks–they probably would sell thousands more. I can’t justify 50 bucks for pens and paper for doodling.

  13. Avatar
    Anonymous June 27, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    To draw this art form (by the way first it was created by Nadia Russ in 1989 – http://www.nadiaruss.com), you need no kit. Get any piece of paper and ink pen. All is simple if you have an imagination. Draw flowing line which creates sections. Then fill these sections with the different repetitive patterns.
    If you have no imagination, just use any simple repetitive patterns such as circles, triangles, rectangle, squares. This is it! Little by little you will improve your drawing. Enjoy drawing!