Thursday, September 27, 2012

CZT 10 and The Book of Zentangle

I am having a very hard time keeping my eyes open right now, but my brain is so excited I can't crawl into bed until I have told you guys what I saw today!

I dragged my carcass out of bed at 5am today so I could drive down to Providence, RI with Bette Abdu. She drove - I never could have stayed awake. Although I think we talked nonstop for the 3 hours down and the 3+ back. It was ironic to spend seven hours driving so we could spend three hours at the Certified Zentangle Teacher training workshop, but it was SO worth it.

Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts
We got to sit in on the last leg of the program and learned a new tangle pattern - it's a little like Tripoli, but... different. ;-D It will probably be in one of the future Zentangle newsletters, but for now, you have to wait patiently and curse me under your breath. (I'll redeem myself in a minute, maybe). I got to talk to a whole bunch of people - some of you who are reading this - "Hi folks!!!", a few who were at my UN-Tangled retreat in March, a few who are coming to the one in November, and a bunch of my customers. I was thrilled to meet the Ukelele guy, Jason, too. Actually, I just realised, there were more men at this session than I have ever seen before... that's a very good sign!

What is everyone staring at....?
In all, a really nice batch of new CZTs. And a lovely batch of CUPCAKES! These were carrot cake with cream cheese frosting INSIDE too - and the caterer had been inspired to create special Zentangle wrappers!

During break, I got trapped in the room talking and signing books (I'm not complaining, it's a total trip to be treated so nicely - and it does wonders to refill my confidence tank). In the middle of a conversation, I noticed people returning to their seats and muttered "Oh, I didn't get a cupcake". Next thing I know, someone is handing me a lovely, creamy... oh slurp... cupcake. And another wonderful soul brought me a glass of tea. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE having minions?
I LOVE my minions!! :-)

It was over before I knew what hit me and we headed home - where I promptly crawled into bed!

BUT!!!! Backup... The coolest thing EVER - Rick and Maria have finally published their book!!!!

I remember seeing some of these illustrations, years and years ago, on Maria's desk. She said it took her 8 years to do this book - and it shows. They published it themselves, it's beautifully designed - like a mini- coffee table book. The writing looks really interesting, but I zoom right to the pictures. The art makes me drool. I want to crawl into the pictures. Heck, I wish I had drawn them!! (That is my highest compliment). As usual, words fail me. At the back of the book, they have thumbnail sized images with "notes" about how and why the pictures were created. The back-stories. I always want to see the under-layers, the ideas and structures behind the art. So this book has it all.

I was so in awe, I bought ten signed copies. I'm keeping a couple for myself, but I put a bunch up on my Etsy store if anyone would like one. They won't be sold on Amazon, but you will be able to get them from CZTs, from, and smaller bookstores, etc. At this moment, however, I seem to have the only (small) horde for sale! What a delicious feeling!!

Maria Thomas, Rick Roberts... and me

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Birthday Week

Well it ended up being a very nice Birthday Week (from Saturday to Saturday).
Here are some highlights...
(the party photos were taken by my personal photographer, my paparazzi-to-go, Laurie Strysko)

 On Sunday, we had a good-bye party for the minister of our church. I created a mandala that we all filled with sand, then Rev. Donoghue took it outside and tossed the sand into the wind. Yes, I filmed it. :-) I'll put some of the pics on Facebook, but let me know (in the comments) if you are interested in knowing more about this project.

Then, I got my new iPhone. :-) I also gave myself a new dress, a new coat, some boots, a bunch of books... ah, yes, the new Lego Haunted House.
What a lovely week.

iPhone 5!

I am SOOO excited to get my new iPhone 5. I admit it - I am a geek. I love new tech toys. When my ex told me I had to get my own phone contract, I was actually excited - and it seemed like destiny that a new iPhone was coming out just at this moment!!!

On the other hand, I can't believe how ridiculously much people spend on their phone/data contracts. Seriously? Oh well... now I have my own number and my own ridiculously expensive data plan. So the only clear-headed thing to do is to get a ridiculously expensive case for the phone, right? Well... I am sort of practical. If I am going to spend THAT much on a case, I want a custom one with my own image. And, then I thought "Wow! That looks really cool! I need to show it to you all." And then... "Oh! Maybe they want one too?"

So I have posted my design on Zazzle! We can all have matching cases. Ooo-AH!

I also have to tell you a ... strange?... revelation I had. My dad told me to trade in my old iPhone at Best Buy to get the new one. I usually avoid those big stores because they overwhelm me. Two seconds after entering, I can't remember why I am there. But when I want something badly enough... The sales associates were nice enough (the girl was particularly nice) - well, the sales guys were kind of idiots - but the GEEK SQUAD? Those guys are my people!! I handed my old phone to the Geek (I say that with respect) to assess it for trade-in. He fondles it looking for damage, then says "oh my god, is this a Lego case?" Sigh. True Love. So all those friends who keep telling me to go hang out in bars and start checking out guys, did you mean the Geek Bar at Best Buy? :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Big Girl Panties

Today is my birthday. It started with me waking from a terrifying nightmare... then I spent half an hour, or so, sitting on the floor of the shower and crying. I cried because a bunch of people can't come to my party. Well, not because they can't come, but because of the reasons they can't come - and that there is nothing I can do to help them. I cried because I miss my kids and I feel useless as a mom. I cried because I am 43 years old and still feel like I am under the control of some other people. I cried because I feel like one of the kids in "Half Magic" where they find a coin that grants their every wish... but only HALF. I cried because I still feel like I exist in an alternate reality and the things I see and experience are not what others see and experience. "Stuff" just feels so overwhelming.

I usually pull myself out of these strange funks when I notice I am composing blog posts in my head. No, I never actually post any of those "posts". (I really don't want to get sued!!) But then I found my "advice" moving towards "big girl panties". This, of course, refers to acting mature and responsible and doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is.

I have always found that phrase a little offensive and only use it with sarcasm. Big girl panties sound like those awful things one wears when pregnant. Uncomfortable, ugly, white, itchy, with seams... I can't think of a single thing that is positive about them! Why can't big girl panties, be lacy, colorful, or at the very least, stretchy? I have a feeling that big girl panties were designed by men. I have been wearing them for the past year or two and can't honestly say they have helped in any way. They chafe and I am sick of them!! Today is my birthday and I'll whine if I want to!!

So I pulled my wrinkled self out of the shower and determined I would blog about panties rather than the stuff I would get in trouble for saying out loud. But as a compromise, no big girl panties today... I will wear my TIARA!!

When I came downstairs, there was a message waiting for me on my answering machine that changed my mood considerably. I couldn't figure out a way to add an audio file to this blog, so I put it on my website, here:  if you are curious. :-)

I typed this entire post wearing my tiara. Not only do I feel a hundred times better now - thank you for listening to my mini-venting - but I now know HOW to deal with audio files and websites. I may be older, but I am smarter.

I will now go do my chores and allow myself to indulge in my birthday. I will be grateful for whoever shows up this evening and I won't worry about everyone's problems (at least I will TRY not to). If anyone else wants to come and play this evening, you are very welcome. 5:30 at The Studio Formerly Known as Wingdoodle. (Maybe, that's what I should actually call it? Or TSFKW for short?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tangling or Sanity... Close-up

Here are some close-ups of the Zentangle images from Laura's desk (from the previous post)...

Auraknot by Laura R.

Feed Me Seymore by Laura R.

Lava by Laura R.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tangling or Sanity? Why not... BOTH!

Last summer, I received the following email from Laura in Indiana:

I can honestly say that you’ve changed my life.  
Really… not kidding. 

I’m like you… except undeclared.  I have degrees in Public Affairs, English, Education and Library Science and, as you can see below, I’m using none of them in the way in which they were intended.  I had wanted to be an artist growing up but was, like many others, talked out of it by family and friends.  The first thing you never want to do with an artist… channel them into something else.  The other half of my family is full of artists who were shocked when I chose government work over graphic design. 

Now, I build trucks… not very creative unless you’re one of the select few who gets to work in the design shop.  My husband is drowning in mountains of crafts because of my basic need to be creative.  If I don’t do something creative every day, I feel incomplete… and with two small children, that’s not always possible… even with my first love, origami.  

That is until Zentangle came into my life. I can sit in a meeting and start a tangle without taking my mind off of the meeting… in fact, my notes get tangled into the drawing… or is that the other way around?  Regardless, I get an incredible amount of enjoyment in tangling and I’m so glad I stumbled into it! Some of the strangest things have become tangles…cards to friends, the skin on my phone, even my daughter’s pb & j… which immediately received an “I can’t eat it now… it’s too pretty”… I’ve even tangled my origami! 
Thank you! 

That was a lovely note and the picture of the tangled PBJ was great. I had intended to put it on the Zentangle for Kidz! site that I was still designing. But I got caught up in ... life... and, well, I forgot. <grimace>
Flash forward to... now... and I received this email from Laura (now in Chicago):

I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I’m the mom who tangled in peanut butter for her daughter.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done that… a lot has happened since I first discovered Zentangle.  My family picked up and moved from Fort Wayne, IN to Chicago, IL.  My 3 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 7 days before we moved.  I started a “new” job within the same company… all the while learning to commute in true Chicago style (sit and wait).  

I still tangle around the edges of my meeting notes at work… it actually helps me concentrate.  My dry erase board has a section devoted to tangles done at work (see attached).  And I’ve tangled pencil boxes (also see attached) and through it all, I truly believe that Zentangle… and particularly your books have kept me sane.  A true achievement.  I’ve carried them around with me, packed them into suitcases (they’ve gone to Disney World) and I’ve just purchased a new copy of Yoga for the Brain because my first copy finally fell apart from constant use.  They’re like dictionaries….no, better yet, Thesauruses… new variations on existing themes.  So many ideas and things to try… and I count them among my important worldly possessions. 

So, thanks again for your books, your website and your influence!  It has been and continues to be magical. 


Laura's tangled desk.

Laura's tangled pencil box for her daughter.
Keep tangling Laura! It keeps me sane too.
Oh - and go take a look at the Zentangle for Kidz! site to see a picture of the tangled PB&J. Actually it is tangling WITH PB&J. :-)

Tangling on an iPad & a Sheer Heaven Trick

A recent comment on my blog post about my new "Tangles of Kells" ebook:

I have a question. Do you tangle on your iPad? What app do you use? I haven't found an app that I like for tangling and am wondering what everyone else is using. Can't wait to download your newest book.      Kathie in B'ham, AL

To which I replied:

I don't tangle on my iPad yet, but I just started taking a FABULOUS online class about using your iPad as an Art Studio. It's by Jessica Weselok, the creator of Sheer Heaven. I'll be doing a post about her soon. Here's the link:

I forwarded these questions to her, and here is Jessica's response:

Hi Sandy!
Ever since I began exploring art apps on the iPad two years ago, I have thought of you and your tangling books often, because the iPad is indeed an ideal tool for tangling. There are a few apps that I feel are best and they vary in complexity. I don't just throw app names out there because so many artists download drawing apps and find them too intimidating because there are usually no instructions on how to use them. Then, they give up too soon.

So, my e.workbooks are the "missing manuals" for these apps, and I am currently working on one to teach how to tangle on the iPad, which will cover three apps - ranging from very simple to "the sky's the limit". I will be sure to let you and your readers know the minute it is available. 


You can read more about the iPad Studio - Jessica is very funny and she has a lot of experience.
I have been having a lot of fun working through the ebooks (there are 11 and I am moving slowly.) But the very first section taught me how to actually "turn off" all the apps that my daughter opened, thereby saving my battery life. Who knew you had to "close" each one!
I just skipped ahead to book 5 so I could learn how to use a really cool journaling program too. I have taken quite a few online classes with Jessica - Art Journals, Guerilla Photography, and one on how to actually USE the strange settings on my digital camera - so I am sure her tangling on the iPad ebook will be fabulous, too. She promised I could take a peek and make sure she uses the right terminology and all that. It won't really be about HOW to create Zentangles, but rather how to use the iPad as another tool for drawing tangles.

The other thing that Jessica is FAMOUS for is SHEER HEAVEN!  If you have read Yoga for Your Brain then you remember I explain how to use Sheer Heaven to make cool transfers into your journal that can be tangled over easily.

Page from Yoga for Your Brain
To download a free pdf tutorial on making Sheer Heaven transfers or to see a YouTube video - click here.   If you would like to order some of this miracle paper, Jessica has an Etsy shop, so it is easy to buy it HERE. Sooner or later, I will add some smaller, sampler packs to my own shop - but once you start playing with it, you'll be glad you have plenty of sheets at your disposal!

One interesting trick that I just recently learned is that Sheer Heaven can actually pick up the texture from texture-y paper or fabric! Each transfer can only be used once, but I noticed that, after transferring an image to canvas, not all the image had transferred. So I repeated the spritzing and rubbing, but did the second transfer to paper. And this time it had a canvas look to it... on the paper! Oh... I'll scan my sketchbook page... a picture's worth a thousand words...

Cool, right?! Another thing I need to do an e-book about! I'll add it to the (growing) list.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Etsy Craft Party - Wish You Were There!

I just got some great photos from Laurie Strysko that she took at our Etsy Craft Party at the end of August. Etsy has Craft Parties at their Brooklyn, NY offices, but this time they challenged artists all over the world to host our own parties on the same night. The theme was "Wish You Were Here" and we were urged to do crafts based on some feature of our town or local craft or some such thing.

Since I often complain that I seem to live in an alternate reality... I figured we should do something crafty from my town of Wonderland. Giant FLOWERS!!? I had seen a great project on Design Sponge and this seemed like the perfect chance to try it out. The flowers needed cups of cement to anchor them and Daniela jumped up and down saying she had always wanted to play with cement... weird, but I actually know what she means. (Someday we need to do a cement casting and mosaic playday...)

 Donna is what I consider "a professional crafter" - she owns the Queen Bee's Knees shop here in Warner. Most of us struggled to get ONE giant flower attached to our stems - Donna got FOUR on her stem!!! Wow - she's my crafting hero!!

Rosemary had a double blossom.

Me, Rosemary, Daniela, Debbie... (Donna left early, and Laurie is taking the photos)... We ended up with a great group of six ladies. There was a ton of laughter and glue and tissue paper! And some wine and cookies. It was so wonderful for us to all vent and laugh hysterically at each of our misfortunes. As we taped and glued, and sipped and snacked, all the pent up "problems" went up as steam. I really think there is nothing that can't be made to seem funny, even if it is in an ironic sense. I think we all realized that we need more of this hands-on social networking. Get off Facebook and laugh with some real people. Anyone else want to play?

We are going to do another Craft Party for my birthday, September 15th. Our theme this time will be "Queen for a Day," so be sure and wear your tiara. You need to bring a birthday present for yourself. Yes. For YOU! You can spend as much or as little on it, but it has to be something you really want. Wrap it and bring it along to my party. Don't worry, I have already bought my own present too! I'm not sure what we will do as our project, but it will be "royally fun". ;-) If you would like to come to the Sept. party, email me (beezink @ and I'll get you the details. The only guest requirements are an open-mind, a great sense of humor, and a mostly positive outlook. Talent is optional. ;-D

Oh - and since most of us (at this particular party) were divorced, (the dating stories were quite funny!) - we made some jokes about Lonely Hearts Club and such. But Rosemary suggested "Laughing Hearts" and I love that with a small type change... "Laughing heARTS"!


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