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Vendor Spotlight: Zentangle

Reported by Taylor Usry

When the Zentangle arrived, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty and simplicity of its packaging. I checked it out on the website once I knew it was on the way, but I didn’t really expect it to look as good as it did in the picture! The box is compact – about the size of a book (it measures 5 1/2 ” x 8 ” x 1 3/4 ” (14 cm x 20.5 cm x 4.5 cm). It really seems designed to travel anywhere with you, which is a wonderful feature.

I watched the enclosed DVD for the entire 29 minutes straight through. It’s one of those tiny DVD’s, and it has a note that says it won’t fit in the slot load players like Macs have. However, my kit came with a second, larger DVD, so I watched it on my Mac. I’m not sure if that is included for every kit now or not – but the large (regular sized) DVD does not fit in the box. It was very helpful to see the artist create each different tangle (defined as a simple, easy to draw pattern). Also, it is set to very soothing music that totally relaxed me.

The process is simple: start, using the pencil, by making a small dot in each corner. Connect the dots to make a square. Inside the square, you create a string to help define each area for your tangles. Once that is done, switch to the pen and create away! There is an enclosed die (called an icosahedron, which is a twenty-sided polyhedron die with numbers on each face) to help stimulate creativity. The die corresponds to a legend, so when you roll a number you can choose to use the pattern it suggests, or roll it again.

The kit comes with 2 Micron pens, made by Sakura Color Products. I absolutely *love* these pens! After using them to make a few tiles, I tested out a Zig marker of the same width (.01) to see if I’d get the same results. Nope! The Zig didn’t seem as smooth or give me the depth of color that the Micron pen did. When the makers of the Zentangle said they did extensive testing for the best materials, they meant it. I found that the same thing held true for the tiles as well. I tested the process out on a 4″x4″ chipboard coaster (twice, to make sure I wasn’t just doing it wrong) and the results were nowhere near as pretty.

Once you have completed each of the areas within the strings, switch back to the pencil to do your shading. Lightly rub your finger over the places you have shaded. Then add your initials to just outside the drawing, flip it over to sign and date, and it’s done!

The biggest reason that I wanted to test out this product were some of the benefits and uses the website suggested. Because I am bipolar, as well as a long term sufferer of depression, I am always looking for new and useful techniques for stress management and relief. I recently ceased all of my medication while we have another baby, so it is especially important to me to have access to good coping skills. I take mental health very seriously, and am always looking for new and different opportunities to practice interesting techniques. I’ll admit, I was slightly skeptical about how well this would work. But I’ll try anything 🙂 I sat down for what I thought would be just enough time to watch the instructional DVD and maybe complete one of these. Before I knew it, I spent an entire morning creating these!

I enjoyed the process so much. My initial apprehensions that there would be a “wrong” way to complete a tile as way off base. There isn’t. Even if you make a pattern slightly differently than suggested, it still comes out alright. You can draw your string in any design that is pleasing to you – again, there is no wrong way. Using the Zentangle is similar like meditating – I was able to easily focus on the task before me and let my mind slip away from stressors. The website offers interesting perspective on different theories of Zentangle.

After I finished several tiles and my failed chipboard coaster experiment I thought I’d see what other surfaces worked well with the kit. I love the tiles, but due to their exceptional quality they are a bit pricey to replace. I found that Prima cardstock worked very well – I made several bookmarks for personal use (here I used a scrap of Sugar Cream). By far my favorite was the tiles, though – they realy are an excellent quality. I have plans to test out more materials but I had to tear myself away from the kit!

I couldn’t be happier the Zentangle found its way to my craft room. The benefits for me personally are tremendous – a creative outlet that allows me to focus, relieves stress, improves concentration, and soothes my nerves. Not bad for such a small package! I also think that the end results are beautiful! I’d love to purchase some of the frames (but they do seem like more money than I’m willing to spend) for them.

My only downside (if I have to pick one) to this is the price. I feel like it may be cost prohibitive for many people who wish to use this kit in a therapeutic way. I understand that the price is directly related to the exceptional quality of the products in the kit. And truly, the supplies are elegant. I will happily pay to replace my supplies because I know that the system works for me. It may be hard for others to make the initial investment, though.

I’ll be taking this with me on every trip my family goes on. I recommend it without hesitation to everyone!

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7 Responses to Vendor Spotlight: Zentangle

  1. Avatar
    blurooferika October 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks for posting about this. It sounds like the perfect Christmas present for my artistic 12-year-old nephew. One down. Yahoo!

  2. Avatar
    Rachel October 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    If you just told us “make dots and lines and then make geometric patterns with your micron pens” and that’s the whole thing (?)… I guess I don’t understand what the kit is for?

  3. Avatar
    Anonymous October 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm #

    Great review – I have done this before and so have my 2 youngest sons – – they are 4 and 6 — and they love it. They actually sit down watch and listen to the whole dvd and create little works of art. so cool
    Theirs are better than mine….

    For Rachel – hard to explain what it is for but if you do it – you will see — thus the “ZEN” in Zentangle.

  4. Avatar
    Heather the Mooselover October 29, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    Great samples Taylor! Looks likke you enjoy Zentangles as much as I do.

  5. Avatar
    Anonymous October 29, 2009 at 11:37 pm #

    I just use a pen and paper,,no kit just my imagination

  6. Avatar
    DJ April 3, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Excellent review! I felt the same way when my kit arrived! I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been experimenting with different papers/card stock, too. I took a tile into my local art store (www.aselart.com) and found the Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Medium sketch pad is a nice substitute. I use my tiles for special work and moments now. The ‘Zen’ of the moment is a wonderful stress-reducer.

  7. Avatar
    Carolyn A. Pappas January 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Try Stonehenge paper. I use it a lot for pen and ink and it has a smooth surface. Staedtler pigment liners are better quality and last longer than microns in my opinion. Please don’t think you need to buy the kit to enjoy making zentangles. You can buy artist quality materials for a lot cheaper if you get them individually.