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For the love of tangling

There’s a new love in my life, and its name is tangling!

Early in June of this year, while scrolling through the latest submissions on the FMS Photo A Day Facebook group, a picture of another member’s in-progress black pen drawing caught my eye. More than merely a simple doodle, something about the beauty and complexity of its patterns appealed to me, and I had to know more.


The word Zentangle®1 was mentioned in the discussion surrounding the photo, and a quick Google search led me to the Zentangle web site. With growing excitement I read the “What is Zentangle?” introduction, watched a couple of instructional videos, and knew instinctively that this was it.

This was going to be my thing.


I jumped in with both feet and ordered an assortment of books and supplies (not necessary in order to learn to tangle, but something I am wont to do whenever I get into a new interest!), and anxiously awaited their arrival.

And right from the moment I put pen to paper to learn my first tangle, I was completely smitten.


Now two months, plenty of practice, 39 Zentangle tiles, and eight ZIA (Zentangle-inspired art) pieces later, my love has only grown. Unlike some of my previous pursuits, where my well-intentioned purchases quickly gathered the dust of disuse, my tangling supplies are hardly idle long enough to suffer the same fate.

I think one of the things that appeals most to me about tangling is that even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, or don’t know how to draw, or don’t think you’re creative, you WILL be able to tangle. I’m serious about this! Each tangle is broken down into steps, and single tangles are put together to form larger drawings, so what may look like a complex piece is actually a series of single, simple steps. If you are at all intrigued by this art form, I encourage you to give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean.


Over the past couple of months several people, upon seeing my work and catching on to my excitement, have asked me how I’m learning, what supplies I use, and so on – so I thought I’d share some information on my discoveries in case you might be interested in trying some tangling for yourself.

I hope it’s helpful!


First let me emphasize one point – you do not have to spend a lot of money – or any, for that matter – if you want to tangle! The supplies are simple and basic, and plenty of free information and instruction abounds (on the Zentangle web site, for starters). This is not an exclusive club!

That said, for those of you who – like me – love books and learning and are self-described office- and art-supply junkies… well, you know there are plenty of ways for you to part with your money.

I started my tangling journey with the book One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun by Beckah Krahula, and highly recommend it. I found it to be a great introduction to the process, as well as to art supplies and techniques, and she provides instruction on a large number of tangles, starting with some fairly simple designs and moving towards the more complex. If you only buy one book on tangling, of everything I’ve seen I’d say that this should be the one.

Once I’d completed the lessons in One Zentangle A Day, I moved on to (and am still working through) Totally Tangled: Zentangle and Beyond by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. This is a terrific book as well, with very few repeats and a ton of new tangles – but as many of the tangles she covers are (in my opinion) somewhat more complex, I recommend waiting until you’ve had a little bit of practice and feel comfortable with the process before you start using this book.

If you don’t want to spend any money on books (and even if you do!), an absolutely wonderful free resource that you will definitely want to bookmark is TanglePatterns.com. It’s full to bursting with information and tutorials, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the many, many tangles she has listed! Linda Farmer, CZT, the creator of the site, is definitely to be thanked for this labour of love.

In terms of supplies, all you really need is a pen, a pencil, and some paper and you’re good to go. But if you’d like to use the specific pens recommended on the site and in the books, the Sakura 50011 11-Piece Zentangle Clamshell Pencil Set is a great option. I also chose to order the Zentangle Kit, which is lovely and a great way to tote your essentials (again, not a necessity – I just like pretty things!).

I hope I’ve covered any questions you might have, but please feel free to ask if there’s anything I’ve missed!


If you’d like to follow along on my tangling journey, I’ve set up a Tumblr – “Ten Thousand Tangles” – where I’ve been posting all of my practice tangles (the good, the bad, and the ugly) as well as my finished pieces. I’m also posting everything on Instagram, if you’d prefer to follow on that platform.

If you do decide to give tangling a try, please let me know… and, if you care to share, I’d love to see some of your work!


1 The Zentangle® Method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.