Friday, 31 May 2019

one foot in summer, the other in spring

For the last few weeks I've been tangling in an entirely different space - a six-sided space!  I've been spending time in the wonderful world of Relaxagons.  Relaxagons are a new concept and kit, lovingly designed and produced by Dutch CZT Marguerite Samama. 

If you'd like to buy the Relaxagons kit it's available from Marguerite's Etsy store.

I've talked at length before about how I'm picky about buying new products, materials and kits, so I won't repeat myself.  Suffice to say, buying the Relaxagons kit was a considered choice, but one I'm very pleased I made.

Exploring Relaxagons -
I confess that I cut a few of my own tiles just to use till I got the hang of things!
(I still struggle to break the habit of hoarding my special supplies!)

As well as hand-made tiles with a beautiful little detail along the edge, and carefully chosen coloured pencils, Marguerite's instructions are thorough and inspiring.  There are many ideas and suggestions to gradually explore the unique properties of tangling on hexagons.  The suggestions start simply and then progress.  There is enough guidance to help us achieve good results, but plenty of freedom and suggestions for where we might take our own practice.  And that is the strength for me.  It reassures me that I will get plenty of use out of the kit, and will be able to take it in new and unexpected directions.  I know I'll be using the Relaxagon concept for years to come - just as I'm still enjoying all that Marguerite's Zen Buttons and Persian Mosaics have to offer.

The first activity Marguerite suggests is getting to know the Relaxagon tile by using it for free tangle play.  This seems a simple idea, but is surprisingly effective as tangling on something that has 6 sides and 6 corners really does feel quite different!  The tiles are a little larger than regular square tiles too - but smaller than Zendala. 

My first Relaxagon -
I started with Antidots, my ultimate comfort tangle - some Cubine, and
Fescu appeared as well as some detail lines.  The result was quite unexpected, like
the top of an ornate jewellery box.

My second Relaxagon -
I started with some Marasu, which came to points rather than spirals.
This tile looks bold and dynamic and I love the way that
negative space in the middle jumps out.

My third Relaxagon -
I laid a light colour wash of 3 blue triangles before I tangled -
but the colour mostly disappear when I shaded, leaving only
a hint of blue.  N'Zeppel, feathered Fescu and Doodah.

By this point I noticed I'd become utterly mesmerised by the symmetry of the hexagon, and wanted to break that.  Not that there is anything wrong with symmetry, but sometimes imbalance is just what we need.

My fourth Relaxagon -
I put down more blue this time, using one of the watercolour pencils from the kit.
Then I just let myself get lost in the repetition of a handful of ZT original tangles -
Mooka, Ynix, Printemps, N'Zeppel and Tipple - half filling the space and then stopping!

I'm ready to move on to the next activity in Marguerite's instructions, but I'm thrilled at the results so far - and I feel that the unusual shape of the tile has taken me to places that a circle, square, rectangle or triangle might not have done.  I'll return with further explorations at a later date!


In other exciting news I've been working on my latest Zigzangle piece over the last couple of months.  I work on these a little at a time and slowly but surely they grow.  I hadn't done one since I joining in with the ZT HQ Twelve Days project at the tail end of last year.

My partner eco-dyed this Khadi paper zig-zag using turmeric.

This time I worked entirely in blue ink - out of my comfort zone for sure -  and shaded using only a darker blue pencil.

A host of tangles on this including - S-Vine, Inaura, Opus, Cruffle, Sitika, Nik, Fescu and Beadlines

The rough surface of the khadi paper zig-zag forces me to worry less about the precision of my line work and the smoothness of my shading - as neither are possible on that surface.  However, like the Relaxagons, it's fun to work on a different shaped paper and working little by little over many weeks reminds me that there's no need to rush, that process is far more important than produce.

Friday, 24 May 2019

it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it

Despite how it might sound, this isn't a post where I gripe about my failings and expect you to compliment me in return!  It's just an opportunity for me to talk about the highs and lows of a tangling week.

We can't love every tile we draw.  There are going to be some that we want to frame and hang on a wall, that we want to introduce to our family, or tuck under our pillow at night to decorate our dreams.  There will be many that we feel okay about, but don't really remember much beyond the moment we signed and dated them and set them to one side.  And there will be some that we don't like much at all.  That we want to disown, or dissolve into mere atoms of paper and graphite and ink.  I always encourage tanglers who feel they've made a dud tile to keep it, don't throw it away, because it marks a moment and through that it still has something to tell them. 

Mooka, Cubine, Dex and Crescent Moon -
great tangles but this wasn't a winning combination.

On Wednesday I made a tile I really don't like.  It could have been wonderful - I started with a beautiful Zentangle round tile and pencilled in Annette's Zendala Moments #4 string (I'm playing catch up with these).  And it went wildly off-key from there.  In hindsight I wasn't in the right frame of mind to tangle.  I had pain in my teeth and my hip (both now fully resolved) and while sometimes tangling distracts me from cares and discomfort, sometimes it doesn't.  I tangled through the pain but minute by minute my tile started to decline - my line work was sloppy, I packed too much in and I started to feel really negative about the tile.  I packed up my supplies and only returned to the tile today.  I couldn't do much to save it - and I was sorely tempted not to share it, but I think it's important to share our tangling tragedies as well as our triumphs.  We all have days like that, tiles like that - I bet even Rick and Maria knock out a tile from tile to time that they look at with wobbly mouths and swiftly feed to Bijou!

All Stars (Tomàs Padrós) takes a bit of concentraion to set up the initial grid -
but once that is done you can go crazy with your choice of fill
and then watch it come to life and the shading stage!

The great thing about Zentangle is that there is always another chance, another tile, more ink, a sharpened pencil.  And what a difference a day makes!  Yesterday I played with two tangles by the masterful Tomàs Padrós.  These tangles were both new to me and both a fair bit more complicated than any I used on the round tile.  But they worked like a dream.  And even when I made a couple of mistakes - lines where they shouldn't have been, or lines that came out thick and wobbly I was quickly able to work those into my design.  I don't have much more to say about these tiles - they speak elegantly enough for themselves.

Taiga (Tomàs Padrós) is a mesmerising tangle with a familiar formation that
cleverly transforms into the look of tall winter trees - or can remain
entirely abstract if you wish.  A slip turned into the invitation to cut out
sections to enhance the appearance of a paper-cut forest!

By my definition my Spring themed tangling is coming to a finish at the end of May.  My pinks and yellows and greens are becoming more vibrant as summer edges nearer.  It's a cusp week next week, so time for something a little different, but then I'll move into Summer tangling mode.  There were quite a few springy ideas I never got to try - but there's always next year, and mostly I'm just proud of sticking to my project and even embracing the use of pink!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

the kindness of strangers

T.S. Eliot claimed April to be the cruellest month, and while I've known some challenging Aprils, in general I think spring is a kind season.  It reassures us after long doubtful winters.  It teases us playfully, mild bright days interspersed with showers and chill nights.  It pledges to step aside in the next few weeks to let summer take the stage, with all the drama that can bring.

Today I'm celebrating the kindness of spring, coupled with the kindness of a fellow tangler.  I've encountered a wild variety of people over my 6 years of tangling, and almost exclusively I've been humbled by their passion, friendship, care and generosity.  Chatting the other week with Australian tangler Yvette, discussing unusual papers, we agreed to send some to each other.  I sent her some of my khadi paper (which I used for my Zigzangles among other things) and in exchange she sent me a bumper selection of lokta paper.

As well as thicker pieces there are some that are almost tissue thin, and have leaves and grasses caught within them.  I knew these could be a challenge to work on, so I lightly glued two pieces to some white card to make the surface more stable.

A rather grand-looking tile -
I picture men in pale suits leaning on columns, smoking
as the last days of the Empire crumble around them.

(Sitiko / Ruutz / Beadlines)

These tiles need a gentle touch - a mere stroking of the pen, but they reward with a delightful texture.  You can feel the fibres of the paper as you move the pen, not a rough or bumpy resistance, just a slight hairyness.  You feel the occasional bump of a blade of grass, which seems to remind you to slow down, enjoy the line.  Each line, every line.

Venture inside, out of the sun -
and hanging from a wall this palm patterend screen.
No doubt purloined from its rightful owners,
no doubt now gathering dust in a far flung museum.

(U-2 - blogged about most capably by Linda)
I seemed to like mine upside down!

There was no way I'd risk any major shading on this delicate paper, just a touch of graphite here and there and not a blending stump in sight!  But I added a little extra interest by way of lots of detail lines in a lovely dark yellow pen that I just got last week which was a perfect match for some of the grasses!  It doesn't always happen that way, but I love it when it does.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

vernal wanderings

As spring takes a firmer holder colours start to intensify - the soft hues that seeped in as winter departed are starting to hum with life, leaves almost glowing with the expectation of greater amounts warmth and light to come.  My tiles are becoming brighter too.  Green joined us a few weeks back - to sit aside the pink and yellow. 

As this season enjoys its annual renewal I turn my attention to a handful of recent new tangles - and one that has been around a while but is new to me.  Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the constant flood of new tangles that appear week after week.  But remember - you can admire a tree without counting every leaf.  Some people feel underwhelmed by the new tangles they are seeing.  Perhaps they would be more content returning to something older and more familiar - the leaf that felt last autumn, the one they pick up and tucked inside the book beside their bed.  Never underestimate the return to tried and trusted tangles.

Maybe some people are in the middle, and that's where I think I am.  I don't try and use every new tangle that appears.  I browse those I see on my online travels and any that grab my interest I pop into my sketchbook.  Some of those make it to tiles - maybe straight away, maybe a long time later.  For me a tangle really comes to life when I work with it, not just look at it on a screen.  When I get to know it and change it a little, when I see how it plays with others.  When I see what I can do for it and what it can do for me. 

Over recent weeks these six tangles have been dominating my tangle time - click on the tangle name under each image to go to the step-outs.

'Eyebrows' - Sandy Hunter
not named as yet I saw this on her Tanglebucket Facebook page.
Akin to Zenith, she begins with the circles and then adds the
'eyebrows' on either side.  Rounding brings it to life.
A pleasure to draw with so many variations possible.

Klomp - Jody Genovese
Easier than it looked at first sight -
especially if you draw the line at step #4 first,
so that your diamond shapes all line up.
Great fun to shade and embellish for variety.

Saatin - Nadine Roller & Lola - Stephanie Jennifer
Two tangles on this tile. 
I didn't fancy the heavy highlighting that Nadine
suggest for Saatin - but I loved the overall design of the tangle.
I added detail lines and shaded to suggest holes.
I ran with the idea of a hole in Lola too -
and then tied the tangles together with a black ribbon!

BrixBox - Anneke Van Dam
Anneke shared this tangle in 2013, just before
I started tangling - but I only discovered it a few weeks ago
when Margaret Bremner posted about alternative grids.
It takes focus to set up the basic grid, but then filling it is pure pleasure.
I popped in bits of Cubine, Dex and Eye-Wa.

Flux d'Lux - Jenny Perruzzi
A fun jump-off from Flux, and reminding me of Cruffle too,
Jenny shared this tangle in her Anything Goes Facebook group.
Relaxing to tangle, wild with embellishment potential -
I love the way your Flux can touch, overlap, or even
stand a little apart.

I'm sure next time I'll be back on familiar turf, but for now it's been fun exploring pastures new.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

the end is the beginning

I've reached the end of my sketchbook.  The one I started on 15th January 2016.  I've shared many of its pages with you here.  The end pages are covered with streaks of colour, tests of pens and pencils and combinations of the two.  There are swatches taped in - tracking all the varieties of brown pen and pencil that I have.  These will be lifted out into the new book, the next book.  There is a small pile of loose scraps of paper, ideas that may or may not see the light of day.  This book will soon join the two others on my shelf.  An indispensable record of my tangle journey, a limitless feast I can dip into whenever I feel hungry for a forgotten tangle to nibble on.

But before it retires, time to share the last pages.  This is the place where the raw materials are laid down, chopped and measured.  Tasted and tried, and sometimes discarded as being not yet ripe.  Some however are mixed together and presented as done on the tiles I've shared over recent month.  (Links in my comments to tie the raw and the finished together.)

Points of interest - I was in the grip of my winter tangling phase,
lots of stark, sharp tangles, lots of black and white.
A couple of Padros tangle ideas - Fortuna and his Shnek spirals.
New tangles - Edie, which I love and Bertee which I want to use more.
Trying different things with my Miff tangle.
The first appearance of Marguerite Samama's Heart Fragment which featured
often in my Valentangle Extravaganza.

Points of interest - signs of colour creeping in, my spring tangling begins.
Lots of floral and leafy tangles - due to the Botani-tangles I was working on.
First attempts at HaWy - a tangle that is tough to draw, but well worth it.
Intriguing tangles I'd like to use more - Irka and RA-ON.

Points of interest - practicing the wonderfully womanly Sassanian.
Working with Well, Well, Well and Well, Well, Who for the first time.
Having a play with Zentangle HQ's Dingsplatz - pure fun!
Linda at Time for Tangling regularly posts tangles that are new to me -
including the enchanting one in the box below Well, Well, Well - it's called U-2.
Points of interest - a busy page, yet much of this has not yet seen the light.
Margaret Bremner's Double Double is a great tangle - that celtic look with less stress.
Bosch is a tangle with so much potential - it's bound to become a favourite.
Loxo has a delicious lightness and Lynn Mead's Blixty adds weight to the idea of Rixty.
Canomo is easier to tangle than you'd expect and has a lot of movement to it.
Points of interest - a blue pen joins the black as I work on the ideas
introduced in Zentangle's Project Pack 05 - which made it to my Easter break tiles.
A handful of exciting new tangles that are heading tilewards very soon
- BrixBox, Klomp and Lola.
TangleFlake, Savana and Yoga offer a handy hit of darkness while
Bekk and Spiro are beautifully loopy and mesmerising to tangle.

That's all for today, there's a blank page waiting patiently for me to join it!