Thursday 16 September 2021

gathering dust

My 'newest' tangle has had a strange evolution - born in disregard and rapidly abandoned to the care of others, I felt it was time to welcome it home and show it some love.  

For the first half of 2020 I worked on Alice Hendon's Zen-Untangled project, working through the entire collection of 'official' Zentangle tangles. I drew mine onto ATCs which I keep in a small tin. It's become a handy resource I dip into whenever I need inspiration.

On one card, created in early July
I tangled a variation of Static
(alongside Jonqual and Orlique)

My good friends Debbie and Stephanie from 7F5R infused about my tile, particularly my version of Static. They encouraged me to name and claim the tangle as my own. I was stubborn and reluctant, insisting it was merely a tangleation and sure that others were already using it. No amount of cajoling would encourage me to draw a step out and share it at that time, however I gave them my blessing for them to share it, which they did. You can see Stephanie's step out for Ecstatic, her example, not to mention her perspective on my reluctance here!

I'm thrilled to learn that Ecstatic will be featured in Stephanie's selection of tangles for this year's Inktober. In honour of this I thought I would spend a little time getting to know my orphaned tangle. This time with my heart and mind a little more open to its potential.

The evolution of Ecstatic

Static was one of the very first tangles I learned, but I've never particularly enjoyed using it. Those zigzags rapidly start to round beneath my pen and it only ever becomes background patterning rather than anything particularly exciting in itself.  However in my 2018 sketchbook you can see that I started to play around with a variation, which appeared again when I was practicing tangling using purple ink on the back of a tile.

The key difference between Static and Ecstatic is that you don't draw every line of the zigzag, some are cut short.

My stepout differs slightly from the way that Stephanie drew hers, both work equally well and you may have one you prefer.  As I've worked more with Ecstatic a number of variations have appeared. Extra interest can be added to the tangle by rounding, or blacking out sections of the rows after drawing them.  The lines themselves can be thick or thin, or even a mixture of the two, and can be kept sharp or more rounded. Shading can be done in blocks like we do with Static, or each row shaded individually to give a sense of texture.


Because Ecstatic grows one row at a time it allows you to tuck in other tangles as it builds. I like this as I'm always looking for easy ways to get my tangles to meld with one another.

Ecstatic running sideways for a change - joined by
Rumpus, Pokeleaf and Damsel Leaf on a Kraft tile.

Another simple way to bring additional drama and layers is to tangle your Ecstatic first, and then go in afterwards with your black pen (maybe a thicker one if you're impatient) and adding solid black tangling or ribbons. The following progression shows how this tile came to be and also demonstrates how forgiving this tangle can be – the original lines are pretty wobbly in places but that soon gets lost when more tangles, rounding, shading and highlighting added.

An intense Brusho coloured tile.
First add Ecstatic, then pen in some additions.
Darken them, and add highlights, texture the background.
Shade and add more tiny highlights.

A year on from casting this little tangle into the hands of others I've learnt a lot. About being willing to come back to an idea and look at it again with fresh eyes and a less jaded heart. Not to mention the importance of listening to friends when they tell you something has merit! Thank you Debbie, thank you Steph – there would have been no Ecstatic without you!

I hope fellow tanglers enjoy using Ecstatic - I'd love to know how you get on with it!

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