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Monday, June 2, 2014

Tangle Pattern: Vercut

Lately I have been working on decorating wooden boxes.  You know the craft wood kind that you can get at craft stores?  It has been a lot of fun and IF I get my act together, I'll do a post about it.  While working on the boxes however, I think I came up a new pattern.  If it isn't, please let me know and I'll take this down.  The "world" of tangle patterns grows ever bigger each day so I'm not sure if this pattern is already out there.

I am calling this pattern Vercut as it is a blending of Versa and Yincut.  It really is quite simple to do and steps 3 and 4 can even be combined as you are going along.  I did shading in the example, but as you can see in the box top, it looks nice without shading too.

Originally, I didn't create this as a grid pattern, well, I started with a dot grid.  After I started drawing the design however, I realized that I was drawing the grid in as I did steps 3 and 4, so I went ahead and drew the grid.

I hope you like it, and again, please let me know if this design is already out there.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Zentangle + Shrinky Dinks = FUN!

About this time last year, I got the idea to tangle some Shrinky Dink film and see what would happen.  I thought that it would be fun to make some medallions to string on necklaces.  When I am at Art and Craft shows, I find that pre-teen and teen girls are often very interested in my drawings but don't have the cash to invest in the pieces that they like best.  There are note cards and prints available at the table but honestly, note cards are a thing of the past for these girls.  Prints, well they will need frames.  The idea of the necklaces I hoped would be a good idea, the price point isn't too much ($12 at shows and $14 on etsy) and if I do say so myself, they are fun.  It turns out, that a lot of people like the necklaces notjust  the younger girls.  Each is an original piece of art, all are different, and even if I reused a template, it is unlikely that I would make it again in the same way.  One zendala medallion even inspired me to turn it into a larger zendala on paper.

Any of you that also follow me on instagram (TinkerTangles) will often see these pieces as they progress.  One of my followers there asked if I had a tutorial on how I created the necklaces.  I have been thinking that I should do a post about them and the request has led me here today.  So, I will do my best for you that are interested.  Hopefully this will be helpful.  Please let me know if I am not clear of didn't answer a question that you may have.

Many of you may remember Shrinky Dinks.  I LOVED playing with them as a kid.  Usually they came in packages with pre-printed designs that you then colored in with markers or colored pencils.  Those can still be found online and probably in some stores.  I use just blank sheets to create by medallions.  You can also find all of their products on their website.  There are a lot of choices there.  I may have to do a little online shopping as I only have 3 kinds.  I buy mine at Michaels.  There are 10 sheets in a pack and I get at least 4 medallions out of each sheet.  If you search shrink film on Amazon, you will find that there is another kind, I forget the name, but I have chosen to stay with a product I know.  Speaking of products that I know, let me tell you what I use when drawing these.

Supplies:
1.  Shrink film.  I use Shrinky Dinks Crystal Clear, Frosted Ruff N' Ready, and Bright White.

2. Pens/Markers:  I mostly use Sharpie MARKERS.  The Sharpie pens will work on the Ruff N' Ready as the back is really rough and can eat the tip of your marker.  The pens seem to hold up to that texture pretty well and doesn't bleed.  
I also use the Sakura Identi Pens.  They really work well and the double tip is nice so that different line widths can be made.  The drawback though is that the colors are limited to primary colors and black.  I like the color choices that Sharpy has.  
I have also used the Bic Mark-It but I am afraid that they fade over time.  So far I haven't had any reported issues, but I had one medallion that sat in the sun for a while and the darker colors faded.  Probably because of the fact that it sat in the sun, but I don't want to take any chances.

3. Paint Pens:  I use Oil paint pens.  Water based ones don't want to work as well.  I have used Sharpie brand, the Sakura Metallic pens and Deco Color pens.  For all of them I use the extra fine or ultra fine point.  I do have a few larger ones though.  I use those when I want to fill in a large area or cover the back in one color.

4. Cutting Tools:  I am lucky in that I have a Sizzix eclips that I have started to use to cut my film.  It is so much easier.  The machine is so great and cuts like a dream on the shrink film.  HOWEVER, you do not need to buy an expensive machine.  (A friend split the cost with me or I wouldn't have one.)  Before the machine I got a circle cutter.  Martha Stewart makes a nice one and you can adjust the size to what you want your circle to be.  Scissors can be helpful to trim edges or to cut squares and or cut around any particular shapes you are making.  Hole punch is also good to have around.  If you decide to create a medallion, you'll need a hole to attach it to the jewelry finishings. The size of a regular hole punch is a perfect size. 

5. Jewelry Finishings:  What you will need to make your necklaces, pins or earrings. I use very simple satin cord as a necklace and add a bail to the medallion to attach it.  There are some shrink art crafters out there that make some INCREDIBLE pieces of jewelry.  While their work is very inspiring, I am keeping mine simple.  If you already make jewelry, you might have all the stuff to make some impressive pieces.  

My first medallion. The outline, the tangles, adding color and the final product.

Now for the nitty gritty, making your design.  I first cut out my shape.  It is easier to start that way to me.  For the pieces that I am currently making, I keep the film to 4.5".  My circles are 4.5" in diameter.  Squares or other shapes can vary but I make a point to have my largest size 4.5".  Remember that your film is going to shrink down, so keep in mind what size you want your final piece to be when you cut your film.  A 4.5" circle shrinks down to about 1 3/4".  Some of you may be more math minded and can figure out the shrink down percentage.  I am not however, and just tried different sizes until I had what I wanted.

When it comes time to bake your film, I follow the directions that come in the package.  They say a toaster oven is ideal but I use my regular oven and have great results.  There are some that use a heat gun but I think that an oven is best.  In an oven, the heat is even and since they need to be in the oven for 3 minutes, easier on your hand.  A heat gun works great though if you have a problem area after shrinking and want to smooth an area out.  I bake my film on parchment paper.  The directions call for using a paper bag but I don't like the texture of the paper bags.

If you watch your film shrink is is both very cool and a bit scary.  When the film starts to shrink, it is going to flop about, curl around and has even been known to flip over!  Don't fret however and DO NOT yank it out of the oven.  Let your film stay in the oven the full 3 minutes.  It will correct itself and lay flat.  Only once or twice have a had a piece fold over on to itself and stay that way.  That has happened when I was trying to make a really small piece.  Sometimes, my circles come out a bit wonky,  I'm not sure why though.  By wonky I mean that it isn't quite round anymore.  More of an elongated circle.

Once your three minutes are up, you can take your piece out of the oven.  THEY WILL COOL QUICKLY!  I take mine out of the oven, lift the parchment and medallion off the cookie tray, and set the on the counter.  I place a smaller piece of parchment on the top of the film, and use a small book to press lightly down on the film.  (Don't use anything with a texture on it unless you want this texture pressed into the hot plastic.) This will help make sure the piece is flat.  That doesn't mean that even then the piece is totally flat but usually it is.  I have now decided what an acceptable level of wonky is.  You can also return the pieces to the oven, it will not shrink more, but it will make the plastic pliable again so if needed, you can press them flat again.

Now for some tips.
The photo above is the first medallion that I made.  It is on the Ruff N' Ready film.  First I trace/draw the outline or string.  Then I add my tangles and color.

Ruff N' Ready film.  This film needs to have all of the rough parts colored in.  You don't have to, but I don't care for the way it looks uncolored.  Cheap colored pencils work great for this film.  I use Crayola pencils.  You can layer your colors with this.  Just remember to do it in reverse.  The shiny side is the side you are supposed to look at.  Put down your color and add darker colors on top to create shading.  Highlights are going to go down first.  After these are done, I go back and add a layer of acrylic clear glaze over the rough parts.  It seals the colors so that they don't get rubbed off.

Crystal Clear Film:  You can draw on both sides of this film.  Create your design on one side and flip it over to paint sections to add color.  When you do it this way, the design on the front casts a shadow onto the color and gives it more depth. You can also use a marker to add color in your design like a coloring book.  Lighter color markers give the finished piece a light catcher look.


Bright White Film: This film will take the Sharpie markers and the Oil markers really well.  Sometimes after shrinking, the oil paint seems to sit differently on the film giving it a bit of an embossed look.  Markers are smooth.  If you want to be more traditional in bringing Zentangle to this medium, all you need is this and a black marker.

Pens: I have not been able to get micron pens to work on the plastic film.  I find that it wipes right off.  The same thing happens with the Sharpie Pens when drawing on the smooth film.  Sharpies don't.  The color can "puddle" at the end of a line though so you'll want to keep that in mind.  The puddles can help to add "shade" where you'd like it.  There are gray pens that you can use for shading but I haven't had much luck there.  For me, the lighter the color the better.  Colors will become darker and more intense when after shrinking so keep that in mind when choosing your color pallets.

A few examples of finished pieces:
Geisha Inspired Zendala

Starry Starry Zentangle



Different Zendala ideas

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dot - Dot - Dot - Dot - Dot

This week the challenge that Laura put forward is Pointillism.  I confess that I have never tried this style of drawing before, or at least, not that I can remember.  I guess maybe I have as the tangle pattern Rain Dotty is pointillism.  However, I have not tried to create a whole piece of art using just this style.  I really focused on the method here.  Trying to play with the dots to show more depth in some areas while little in others.  I ended up doing two for this week.  First I used an older micron on a square of watercolor paper.  I followed Laura's example a bit and kept things non-tanglely at first but later added more defined pattern.  After I was done, I went back and added a little pencil for shade in a few spots. After I was finished, I found more to the tile than I thought there was.  Some of the sections, blend one into the other to create a curved look that I certainly didn't plan.  As my teacher in college would say, it was a "happy accident".

Next I was drawn to give this method a try on canvas.  I took a blank black canvas board I have and used white oil pen with a white charcoal pencil for shade.  This one was really abstract.  I just started tapping away over a minimum of pencil string and this is what I came up with.
It reminds me of a shoe.  I'm not sure why but it does.  I am pleased with how it turned out.  What is it? Who cares?  

I will certainly explore pointillism more and keep it in mind while working on my pieces.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

They Might Be Zentangled.

One of my favorite bands is They Might Be Giants.  I have loved the Johns and their music since college. Soon after my oldest son was born, TMBG came out with their first kids album, NO!, so I got to share their music with him.  TMBG and all of their albums have taken us on many a long car trip in musical agreement.

Recently, the band played in Philadelphia for a free show with WHYY.  The band played some new songs from their new album Nanobots but also many great classics that I have loved for years.  One of the songs they played was Ana Ng.  A great song that tells a great story but also has a line that says: "I don't want the world, I just want your half."  As the song was playing, I was inspired to try and create a ZIA inspired by that line.  It has been a while since I created a ZIA just for me so I thought that this would be a great one to do.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.




I started this one with just the circle and dividing lines drawn.  I didn't use a string to further divide, I just went with designs as they came to me and went from there.  This one is on watercolor paper and is 7.5" X 9". It is an odd size, but I wasn't thinking about that when I started.

Now to nerd out for a moment.  I have an instagram account (@TinkerTangles) where I post photos of my work as I go.  It is fun for me to share my process and sometimes, if I get stuck, seek out some feedback from others.  After I got the drawing done, I posted a snap of it and shortly went to bed.  When I woke the next morning I found a comment.  See that there, the one from they_might_be_giants?  That is from the band! Not gonna lie, I almost shouted with glee.  I'm a dork I know but that was so cool to see.  My 13 year old was pretty impressed.  TMBG is now one of his favorite bands as well, so he could share in my excitement.

I working on this drawing though, I learned a pretty important lesson.  DO NOT LEAVE ART SITTING ON THE FUTON!  I have a room in the house that I have taken over as my "studio".  It does double duty as the guest room as well, so there is a futon in there.  When guests aren't sleeping on it, the futon becomes a staging location for what I am doing.  It's covered with paper, paper cutter, bags from Michaels etc.  So, as my desk was full, I put the drawing on there while I worked on something else.  The cat managed to scrape his claws across it and marked the paper. You can see it in the image.  Luckily, I can remove the most visible marks in my photo program.  I am going to get a limited number of prints made of this so, removing those scratches is important to me.

So, lessons learned, art made.  I hope that you like this piece.  Leaving so much "empty" space is something that I usually don't do.  This one a fun one.  It holds a personal meaning to me and was a lot of fun to do.

Wanna hear the song that inspired this?  Check out this video:


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Knights Over Tipple Challenge

The other day I realized that it has been 4 (!) months since my last blog post.  I really need to set time aside each week to sit and post something for those who visit here.  I won't promise that I will though.  Because I know me.  I will try, but I can't say I will.  I have been furiously working away however.

In the attempt to create an alphabet in tangles, I decided that I will try to use the Diva's Challenge each week as not only a challenge for Zentangle but as a double challenge to myself to work on an alphabet tile.  I am using some letter cookie cutters that a dear friend gave me long ago as my stencil.  I really love cookie cutters as stencils.  They come in all shapes and sizes and no printing is required.  Just set it where you'd like the design, trace the outline and get get started.

This week is the first in the (hopefully) future series of 26.  As M was at the top of the bucket, M is the kickoff letter.  The challenge is to use just two patterns on the tile.  Those tangles are Knightsbridge (a checkerboard pattern) and Tipple (circles).

I started with the M, using it as a string in this piece.  I drew out the boarder first.  I knew I wanted that to be Knightsbridge.  Then I tippled (is too a word) the M.  I thought about varying the center here and adding to the Knightsbridge but I decided that simple was the way to go.  After getting that done, I had this empty spot that I needed to put something in.  The blank paper was just too empty and didn't look right.  So after a mid morning trip to Starbucks and the Post Office, I came back to this.  With caffeine kicking, I decided to freehand some wonky lines for the Knightsbridge and then Tipple over the spaces.  Combining them to make a  Tipplebridge.  Tee hee!

Things were a bit busy there until I got some shading in to pop the M up from the background.  Here I only shaded around the M and again at the outer edge, separating the Tipple from the border.  In the end, I am happy how this turned out.  I wasn't sure that the final tile wouldn't look too busy, it still is.  With the shading however, the separate layers "stack" as it were, to make things easy to see.

I hope to sit and get some more posts in soon.  I have been working on Shrinky Dinks lately.  I have been using past Bright Owl challenges to make medallions for necklaces.  I have also been doing some rectangle pendants.  I debuted them at the local Arden Fair and the necklaces sold quite well.  So well, that I posted the remaining in my etsy shop.  I have made 4 more in the last few weeks and hope to have them completed soon.

So, have a great day all you out there!  I look forward to seeing what cool things you have come up with for this challenge.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gray for Number 57

I am trying to post more to the Zendala and the Diva's challenges.  I had been doing really well but then I fell off for a while.  I had been putting my efforts into getting things done for Art and Craft fairs so that took up a bit of time.  Then winter set in and my creativity was sapped away by the dark and cold days.  So, with the warmer weather, my energy as returned and man, does it feel good.

In my trips to Michaels over the last several months, I have seen the toned gray and toned tan drawing tablets.  I think that the look on the colored papers is very beautiful.  Plus the addition of the white as a highlight really sets things off.  I've been thinking about trying it but I kept from putting it in my basket.  I didn't need another distraction AND I have a drawer full of paper already.  Really, how much paper do I need to horde?  This weekend however, armed with coupons and a search for supplies for a commission, I saw that the gray notebooks had been marked down.  So, of course I grabbed one.

Wanting to get back to the dare and using my gray paper, I decided to combine the two and see what happened.  I printed out the large template, traced it out onto my paper and got started.  I do love the template that Geneviève Crabe created for this week.  I had not seen her templates and I think they are really cool.  This template made me think of a pinwheel.  I tried to work out a way to make my zendala look like a pinwheel but I fell short.  However, I think that the zendala came out really great and I'm quite proud of how it looks.  I think that I'll be doing more gray paper projects in the future.



I used a micron pen, pencil for shading and a white Derwent pencil for the highlights.  I used Z-Trik on the outer edge.  I had not planned on using it in every section, but after a mistake, I ended up doing it anyway.  It was the first time that I had used Z-Trik like this before.  It's a fun little tangle.  I then added Lanie in the larger triangles.  I like it as well.  I have yet to use it as a whole pattern though.  The center wanted to be Gneiss and it is of sorts but not quite.  I then went back and added Nzeppel.  It took me awhile to decide what to put in that spot.  I wanted something light but didn't want to leave it blank.  Nzeppel worked out great and I like it with the little white highlights.

After getting the drawing done, I went in and added the white highlights and then shaded.  I am so pleased with how it came out.  I havent' really worked with white as a highlight much before.  I am sure that there are some tricks that I haven't figured out yet, but I'm happy with the final result.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Walk this Shway

I must be the first to admit that when I say Shway arrive in my inbox the other day, I did not think that I would ever use it.  Not because I don't like the tangle, but because it looked hard.  I felt like too much spacing and even-ness would be required.  (Confession: mismatched spaces when I want them to be matched makes my eye twitch.)  All that being said, I decided that I was going to figure this out and do the challenge on time this week.

First things first, I played a little with Shway.  I had not tried it out yet.  Once I did a little, and figured out how to get it like I wanted it to be, I pulled out some paper and got to work.  I did a little tic-tac-toe board for a string.  I wanted Schway to take center stage on this one, but I didn't want it to be a monotangle either. I put Shway in five of the spaces so that I would have several chances to vary/experiment with the patterns.   When looking at Shway unvaried and unshaded, I was afraid that the pattern would be quite flat so for the other four spots, I tried to choose tangles that would have dimension. I wanted the other spaces to pop up a little against the flat.


In the end, I'm not sure my other tangles pop up as much as I thought they might, and not all of Shway is as flat as I feared it would.  There is so much possibility for variation here and I really enjoyed experimenting.  I also like the graphic quality of Shway.  It has a pop art feel to me. I am happy with my tile this week.  Not only is it finished in time, but was done in record time for me.

I am also posting last week's Blind String Challenge.  I finished it late Saturday and was too tired to get it shaded, scanned and blogged in time to make the deadline.This was my first go at Phicops and while I certainly have more experimenting with it to feel that I have "mastered" it, I am really glad that I gave it a go and tried it.  I also experimented with Laura's tangle Versa.  I was going for another look that I have done with Versa but, I got distracted and goofed it up.  That being said, I do like the end result.  The other grid pattern is one that I did combining Z-Trick and Flwr Box.  I still need to try those two on their own, but I am pleased with how my combination came out as well.  I was just playing around with ideas when I started this one, so I wasn't sure what the end result would look like.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  Have a great week!