Getting the sack and putting a positive spin on it.

That bloody Diva woman is going to get me the sack. (Nothing to do with my own behaviour, of course.) I work a couple of days at a local College and today I was there doing interviews with students who hope to join the programmes next September. Of course, to them it’s all a bit vague and in the future and, anyway, the World Cup is on telly  so who cares about anything else? So half of them don’t turn up and I have plenty of time to write up the reports. Or tangle.  Well guess what I spent MY time prioritising? Hmmmm.

It started when I had a break for coffee and snuck a look at some of the old challenges on the I am the Diva blog. She has a nasty mind, that Diva. A tile using only straight lines. Do you know how hard that is? Every pattern I wanted to use was curved, bendy, irregular and definitely NOT straight lines. And when I did manage lines, could I keep them parallel? Answer in the negative.  Three discarded tiles and it was time for my next appointment. Who didn’t come. I was mortified – for seconds. And here’s the final version, which is my first ever even almost successful Paradox. so proud.

My first ever Paradox that actually resembles, if only briefly, the original.
My first ever Paradox that actually resembles, if only briefly, the original.

Of course, now I’m bitten by the Tangle Bug. Don’t pretend you’ve never heard of it. If you tangle, you’ve been bitten. And the very next challenge was to do one all curves. And the next one was to use white space, so I tried both in one tile. It didn’t take long, which is just as well, as my next appointment did turn up and I had to smile a welcome, quickly hide the pens and make a not very convincing attempt at a professional welcome.  I may not be a good tangler but I could get an Oscar for my welcoming grin.

I tried to avoid filling space on this one.
I tried to avoid filling space on this one.

So then she wants eggs. Well I soon discovered that an egg is a simple shape but not an easy one. Heaven help the chicken who laid this one. Bet it hurt. However, I did find myself using tangles that I don’t normally go for, apart from Sandswirl, which I just love. And , if I look quickly and then look away, I almost like this one. Until I remember it’s supposed to be an egg. Ah well, it’s the process, not the finished product, as they say on Planet Zentangle.

Well I've seen eggier shaped eggs but I am fond of this one but don't ask me why.
Well I’ve seen eggier shaped eggs and yet I am fond of this one, but don’t ask me why.

Now  I mentioned before that Mooka is a pattern that challenges my skill and my patience in about equal proportions, so you can imagine the groan when I see a challenge just to use Mooka. A monotangle, in ZT speak. Move on.

But it’s that irritating mental niggle again. Three students later and the paperwork is piling up. I get a cup of tea, sit down to do the paperwork and this is what I came up with.

Should have used a smoother card to stop the colours bleeding.
Should have used a smoother card to stop the colours bleeding.

Did I do the paperwork first? Echo answereth not. But even though there are all sorts of imperfections in this little pink Mooka, I like it. I did the colour work when I got home, I hasten to add. Even I don’t take my Promarkers to work just in case. Why is it pink, you may ask. Because it’s blushing! Doh!.  Well you’d be blushing if someone put you on display when you weren’t ready, wouldn’t you?


Pause – my daughter just phoned and we had a chat and were getting along fine right up until she asked if I’d been drinking, which I haven’t. Then I read back through what I’ve written so far and I can see why she asked. But no, this is just me on a roll. Another of life’s little tragedies, I suppose.   So, finally…


Feeling a little, but only a little , guilty about tangling at work, I took a peek at the next challenge. (Really is addictive, you know.) You have fifteen minutes and only fifteen minutes from border to shading a complete tile. Well, I thought, they won’t begrudge me fifteen minutes, call it my afternoon tea break. And off I went. Even put the timer on my phone, talk about obsessive.  Used favourite tangles so I didn’t have to think too hard about how to do them. Not much shading. But I had to cheat. Fifteen minutes came and went and it was perhaps two thirds ready. It didn’t matter that it’s just doodling, for Heaven’s sake. IT WASN’T FINISHED. So I took another fifteen minutes to finish it. (I stayed half an hour later at work to compensate, I was feeling so guilty.) And, having taken all this time, you’ve guessed, I don’t like it anyway.

To be done in 15 minutes. Certainly focuses the mind.
To be done in 15 minutes. Certainly focuses the mind.

Serves me right – should have been working.

Hope my boss never works out whose blog this is.

Can I get unemployment  Benefit at my advanced age?


And the positive spin? If I get the sack, I have more time to tangle. Win win.

Another weekly challenge from Iamthediva

This week’s challenge was to create a tile using two official Zentangle patterns, called Mooka and Auraknot.  I am hopeless at both of them. The Mooka always has wobbly lines and looks stringy instead of smoothly flowing across the page and the Auraknot always ends up with scrappy crossed lines and no depth. I mean, I’ve tried them quite a few times but I don’t improve. So I decided not to do the challenge. BUT. It kept nagging me. Honestly, it was like mental nettle rash until I gave up, scratched the itch and gave it a go.

I coloured a background of the tile first, hoping, I suspect, to disguise the mistakes I was about to make. Bizarrely, once I got started, I quite enjoyed it and was a lot more zentangle minded about it, doing the strokes more slowly, rather than rushing to see how it turned out, which is my usual modus operandi. I shaded it with metallic pencils and, in the end, was significantly less unhappy with it than I had expected.

It was then that I made the big, BIG mistake. Before linking to the Diva blog, I had a look at what other people had done. Oh dearie, dearie me. This challenge seems to have brought out the genius in everyone. If you don’t believe me, go and have a look. Some of the complex interwoven patterns, shaded in subtle tones or sharp and dramatic are just out of this world. Made my little offering look very sad and simple. In fact, it looks like a Christmas card topper, and that is its fate, I’m afraid.

So, for what it’s worth, here it is. Blue seems appropriate somehow. I have a lot to learn.

I was quite pleased with this until I saw the others.
I was quite pleased with this until I saw the others.

However, I also found a Facebook page called Ornation Creation, which I joined because some of the artwork on there is just so good. The guy who runs the page, Ben Kwok, puts a template on each week that you can download and either colour or pattern, or both. I went through the patterns and, although quite a few of them are not my style, there were some that did appeal to me and I had a go.

The first one had been put on the site for Halloween and was two pumpkins. I really enjoyed it and, although I have, I hope, improved it since I uploaded it, this is what I produced. (I added some shading to try for a bit for 3D effect.)

I've done some more shading on this since I uploaded the picture but you get the idea.
I’ve done some more shading on this since I uploaded the picture but you get the idea.

And then I found this moth, which caused all sorts of heartache, choosing patterns, choosing the wrong patterns, starting again, and again… This is the final version, which I think is right in places but is

A. too busy

B. lacking in depth, darkness, shade.

Too many patterns?
Too many patterns?

The question is, do I have the patience to do it again? Nah.

So today I continue with my self imposed mission to complete some of the half finished projects I have on the go. I have tidily set up folders to keep them in and I’m trying to remember to photograph and/or scan them before I put them on cards and give them away. Don’t know how long it’ll last, but we’ll see.









Fun with Dangles

I recently ordered two books of Zenspirations by Joanne Fink and they arrived today, Hurrah!

Zenspirations Letters                                                      Zenspirations Dangles

Of course, I sat down and read them cover to cover straight away. My husband thinks I am mad because they are such slim volumes and he doesn’t see the point, but they are full of ideas and suggestions. So I have retreated to my craft room, where, instead of tidying the existing chaos, as I should, I am scrabbling for paper and pens, ready to start.

I bought from a friend, a set of Sakura Gelly Roll pens, because Joanne Fink uses them and she is my guru, “All hail Joanne …” and what she says goes at the moment. So tonight, to get me started, I’m going to make a little picture for a friend of mine’s birthday. It’s not until September, so, if it doesn’t go according to plan, I can do something else, but I’m hopeful.


More in a while…..

Time passes, (with apologies to Dylan Thomas)


And, Ta dah!

Chris's house


Of course, I can see all sorts of things that could be improved but I’m not unhappy with this as a first attempt. I don’t think the pic does justice to the shine of some of the pens but there you go, an acceptable evening’s work.


However, I’ve decided that it’s time to finish a few projects started a while ago. I have a horrible tendency, each time I sit down to draw, sew, stitch, paint etc, to start something new. Of course, if I don’t complete it in that session, there is a strong possibility that I won’t finish it at all. While we were on holiday in Crete a few  weeks ago, I did several dangle designs and coloured one or two of them with water colours. However, I don’t entirely like the texture water colour gave to them, so did  several more just in ink, intending to fill in the colour with pens when I got home. Well time does pass and other projects come and go. And come and go. And come and go.

So before I go to bed tonight, I’m going to sort out the unfinished ones and colour them in. And tomorrow, I’m going to gather together ALL the finished pieces, scan them on to the computer and then layer them up onto cards, ready to send.  I’ll let you know how I get on.





All sorts of challenges

This has been a week of challenges, some more difficult than others.


As a retired English lecturer and literacy specialist, I occasionally work a couple of days a week for a local college, either helping with initial assessment for future learners who may need extra support with literacy and/or numeracy, or carrying out dyslexia testing to identify their needs and suggest teaching and support strategies that may help them. (I do staff training as well, so that the college’s own staff will be able to do this when I finally hang up my boots.)

Anyway, this week, I worked for two days, interviewing 16 year olds about their support needs.  Apart from the fact that half of them don’t either bother to turn up at all, or let us know they aren’t coming, there are times when you find yourself walking on eggshells, trying to deal sensitively with a subject they don’t want to discuss. Yesterday was one of those times. Sixteen year old boy doesn’t see why he needs to read and write since he wants to be a plumber. Mum is protective to the last extreme and clearly does not accept the diagnosis of autism that the education psychologist made some years ago.  He won’t talk about it. She won’t stop.

But I did it. Somehow I steered the conversation to the point where he was prepared to join in and accept that;


if he joins the college he will have to do maths and English as well as plumbing

if he has to do them, he may need help

if there is extra help available, he may as well take it.



Margaret rules!






The Diva Challenge

I decided to get into the swing of these weekly challenges by having a go at not one but TWO, yes, you heard, TWO of them The first one is Challenge 170, I think and involves using Bugles. Unfortunately, when I up loaded the picture, I had it lying on its side, so the bugles go sideways instead of vertical. Does it matter, I wonder, or do I pretend it’s supposed to be that way?

Does it matter if the bugles aren't verticle? I just wondered what they would look like on their side.
Does it matter if the bugles aren’t verticle? i just wondered what they would look like on their side.

Only two other tangles used – Viaduct, which I’ve not tried before but I do like it, and Beloved, which may not be an official tangle but it’s one of those that suddenly comes together, just when you least expect it.


I’m going to get the other challenge and post it in a few minutes.


Back soon, M


And, indeed, here I am. I went a bit mad doing this next challenge, which was to use a string based on circles. The one shown as an example had concentric circles, but that required perhaps a little more discipline than I am capable of, so I “dropped” several circles, one on top of another and then just started filling the shapes in. It was totally absorbing and I completely lost track of the time.  Again, it’s on textured water colour paper, which adds a challenge of its own, as the pens don’t always run smoothly over it. On the other hand, that could be my excuse for wobbly lines!

this really was absorbing.
this really was absorbing.

When I’d finished, I counted all the different tangles used – 18, I think. Anyway, I’m reasonably pleased with it, although the shading isn’t very good but I do like the way the white space contrasts with the busy patterns.

And my next plan? Well, I’m going to have a look at some more challenges but, and this is, for me, REALLY exciting, I’m going to a Zentangle class, with a real CZT.  Next Sunday, I will be spending the day with real tanglers, not just enthusiastic beginners like me, but real ones. I hope I can keep up.


I’ll tell you all about it next time.

Taking the plunge.

I went back to the I am The Diva blog after my last post and decided to try this week’s challenge first.  The idea was to use a tangle called Bugles. It’s sort of grid based  and I’ve seen some really good variations. Anyway,  here’s the result.

Does it matter if the bugles aren't verticle? i just wondered what they would look like on their side.
Does it matter if the bugles aren’t verticle? i just wondered what they would look like on their side.

Got to Love Tangling.

Should I feel guilty because I’ve now got my cousin almost as hooked on Tangling as I am myself? Nah, she loves it. In particular, we’ve been dangling. We went trawling the Internet for inspiration and the stuff you can find on Pinterest is amazing. I’ve mentioned Joanne Fink before and I’ve still not found anyone who does it better but there are lots of other people out there doing some enviable work. Many of them, like Joanne, are professional artists and I know I’ll never be able to do anything as good as theirs but I do enjoy trying my own take on things.

I’ve been looking at Zendalas but I haven’t tried one yet. Maybe that’s tomorrow’s challenge. In fact, I’ve been looking at a blog called I am the Diva   ( )and she puts on a weekly Zentangle challenge. I’ve only just found it but she’s been doing it for a couple of years. I’m going to go back right to the beginning and try them all. That should keep me going for a while. She puts  ideas that have been sent to meet her challenge on the blog, so you can see how lots of other people have interpreted the challenge. There are some very talented people out there.

Also, I’ve been looking at Zentangle letters/monograms and alphabets. Again, there is some beautiful stuff out there and people are happy to share ideas. As a result, monograms are on my To Do list now. I’m going to have to live to be 199 if I’m to get all these things done.

Anyway, as my new grandbaby has now arrived, a baby girl and pretty as a picture, I thought I’d make a mobile to hang over her cot. In fact, I shall probably do more than one, knowing me. So I thought I’d start with the letters of her name. Fortunately for me, they’ve chosen a short name and it’s lovely, Isla. So far, these are the letters I have designed. Not sure if they’re good enough but we’ll see when I’ve got it all put together.

Letter L   Letter S  Letter L (2)  Letter A

I did enjoy doing these as I watched “Springwatch” on T.V. but perhaps they would be better if I’d been concentrating a bit more on one or the other!

I also saw a challenge on “I am the Diva” blog, the very first challenge she did, in fact. It just asked for something simple, so, after a brief period of thought, I decided  that simple for me meant just one tangle pattern, in this case, Phicops, and a string in the shape of a heart. Not unhappy with the result.

This is just in pencil because I used artist's water colour paper and pen tends to look a bit wobbly. I like how the simple heart shape lends itself so well to this Tangle.
This is just in pencil because I used artist’s water colour paper and pen tends to look a bit wobbly. I like how the simple heart shape lends itself so well to this Tangle.


I also think I may have invented another Tangle.  If I have, I’m calling it Norbudz because they’re neither flowers – nor buds. If, on the other hand, someone else got there first, my apologies and what’s it called please?

I think maybe I invented this Tangle but am prepared to be corrected.
I think maybe I invented this Tangle but am prepared to be corrected.

On the finished tile, I’ve just filled in with auras, as I couldn’t see a sensible way to link the motifs.

I’ve just bought some Sakura Gelly Roll pens, so I’m off now to give them a try.


Happy Tangling, world.