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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 Regan – Writer, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Peter August 9, 2013

    I have watched Dawn from start to present day learning and doing her tangles. I still can’t believe how intricate and perfect these are.
    Hardly doodles at all, but lovely tapestries.

  • sandra tyler August 9, 2013

    This is really itneresting and entirely new to me. I may consider this for the next issue of the Press! Need to pack at the moment…then unpack. How many times have I done this this summer?

  • Talya Tate Boerner
    August 9, 2013

    I’m hooked on Zentangling too!

  • ElaineLK August 10, 2013

    These are truly beautiful. I am all thumbs when it comes to art–are you sure I could learn to do these?? I’ll put it on my “future projects” list. Are they ever done with colors? I think that would be stunning.

    • Laurel Regan
      August 10, 2013

      Thank you, Elaine! Certainly they can be done in colour – I haven’t tried that yet, but I have the coloured pencils and it’s on my list! One idea I’ve heard is to make a copy of your black and white art to use for colouring – then you still have your original.

      I really do believe anyone can learn to tangle. Everyone’s style will be different – just like with writing or any other creative pursuit – but the process is so, so satisfying. I encourage you to give it a try!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… The Power to HurtMy Profile

  • sandra tyler August 11, 2013

    This is too fun to pass up; would love to use some of your drawings in the next Woven Tale Press issue. Each post has an interactive Url as the credit, so readers would click to read more. See what you think: http://woventalepress.com

    email me at woventalepress@gmail.com referencing this Url. Would love to have you aboard!
    xo sandra

  • Kathy August 11, 2013

    This looks really cool and I could see where it could become addicting and fun. Your designs are awesome and make me itch to try it too!

    Kathy recently posted… Letters UnsentMy Profile

  • Winnie August 12, 2013

    Love seeing your “crafty” side too! I have not tried this, but see a lot of them done on various card and crafty blogs. Yours are lovely! There is a great group who do various ones each month doing patterns that start with various letters (A, B, C ) etc. and they make tags. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    August 12, 2013

    These are so very beautiful, Dawn. But you are so creative! I remember the cheese wax figures you made for an entire month!
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted… Kicking The Bucket List!My Profile

  • Anna
    August 15, 2013

    Nice job! This is the first time I’ve heard of this. Looks fun! I’d love to try it out someday! :)

  • Tina Downey
    May 29, 2014

    Hi! Nice to meet you! SammyD sent me over from Bemuzin to see what this is all about! This was a very informative post, and I so appreciate all the links and info! I can’t wait to get started.
    Fellow art/office/pen/pencil/paper/book addict,
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!
    Tina Downey recently posted… College Life: Episode 2: “You’ve Got To!”My Profile

  • Helena
    December 30, 2014

    This could be for me! I am not by any means an artist. But I catch myself doodling all the time, doing geometric designs and intricate patterns. Could it be pushed just a little further and be called Zentangling? On the list for 2015!
    Helena recently posted… Blogger Op – Crystal Hand-Beaded Bracelet 4-Winner Giveaway Event!My Profile

  • Rosemary Turpin November 17, 2015

    Hi, Laurel, I`ve been tangling since June of 2015 and my path has been similar to yours. I was lucky enough to be able to buy what I needed and some books, but I have made my own tiles so far. I`m glad to see someone who is not a CZT, although I`d love to be one. I might have gone for it, if I were younger, but I`m 70 and need my savings for other things. Besides, there are a couple of things I don`t subscribe to in Zentangle`s philosophy! I read your bit about having done 37 tiles in two months and I`m just curious to know how many you`ve done now! 😎
    I`ve done 58 in 6 months (it`s November now.) This is not a contest – I`m just curious! I love your early tangles (and later ones), especially the ones where you have left lots of white space. I`ve started working with Society6 but am proceeding slowly there.


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