29 December 2010

Two-pencil-string technique

For those of you who have been following, I am The Diva's Weekly Zentangle Challenges, it is Week #2* and this week's challenge is to 'create a Zentangle® tile or inspired piece using the two-pencil-string technique'.

This technique was written about recently by Canadian tangler extraordinaire, Margaret Bremner. I was excited to try out this technique for the first time. Particularly after seeing the beautiful effects Margaret had achieved.

* If you haven't seen the extraordinary and inspiring contributions to the Zentangle Challenge from Week #1 – Simplicity, you will find the relevant page here.

In my sewing box, I discovered some seam tracer pencils – just perfect for creating two-pencil-strings. These pencils are readily available and come in two sizes (1/4 inch and 5/8 inch). I am using the 1/4 inch (6 mm) size. This is the first string I created. As usual, I didn't plan ahead at all. I just put pencils to paper and the string flowed easily from body to tile.

The extra stability and balance of double pencil tips does seem to lend itself to lovely smooth and elegant curves. Also, the width of the double pencils felt similar to using a broad edge calligraphy nib – so my 'calligrapher mind' discovered that the flow of the lines was both familiar and comfortable.

My first impression of this string was that it seemed quite musical (which has inspired me dig out my five line automatic 'music calligraphy pen' – and have a tangle with that.) With this notion of music in mind, I started with Casey Poirer's Muzic tangle. Immediately, a branch of Mimi Lempart's Cat-Kin sprang out of the end of the piano keys. I love how 'organically' tangles tend to grow across a tile!

Here is the finished tile (click on the image for a larger view):

In the centre, Sandra Strait's Stubs appeared, which seemed appropriate for the two-pencil theme. Also, even though I only occasionally use colour with traditional Zentangles, those red lines seemed quite determined to emerge from three pencil 'pairs'. That may seem an odd way to phrase it but, in much the same way that authors have commented that their characters 'tell' them what they're going to do next, my tangles often seem to tell me where they will be placed (and not the other way around).

You may also notice that the checker-board ribbon coming from the other end of Muzic has five lines. Although this was unplanned, it seems to me to echo the idea of a five line music stave. You will also see that the final orientation of the tile changed since drawing the initial string (as it frequently does, of course).

I had so much fun creating this first tile, that I couldn't stop there, and so I began straight away on a second. In this photograph, I've already started with the official Zentangle® tangle, Zander, right across the middle of the tile, but you can still see most of the original pencil string. This time I left a border around the outside of my string design. I loved the little double loops that formed, and was quite curious to see what would happen with them!

In similar fashion to this week's Zentangle created by my friend and tangle buddy, 'Lone Creature', I decided to keep my tangles inside the pencil lines for this tile.
Once I started, the tangles emerged quickly. After Zander, Crescent Moon appeared across the bottom of the tile. Hibred grew up the right hand side. And Sue Jacob's Coil curved itself around the top left corner. The double loops were still a challenge, and were eventually filled with various spiral, grid, and petal like patterns. Here is a photograph of the second tile just before shading.

I have included the pre-shaded photograph here because, like so many Zentangles, the shading made a rather dramatic difference... and also because I added a little extra to the finished tile, which you can see in the final photograph.

A final note: In Zen-typical-tangle serendipity, after taking some time to stop, breathe, and appreciate the finished tile, I realised that my rather spiky addition in the middle of Coil reminded me of one of Jennifer Maestre's beautiful 'pencil urchins' (which I first saw on Molossus' blog, Life Imitates Doodles). Clearly I've had pencils on the brain today!

Click on the image for a larger view.
Many thanks, Laura, once again for another fun challenge this week. The Zentangles I've seen so far on this theme are all beautiful, lively, and fun!


  1. Just lovely! Love your creativity and how you use your intuition in the evolution of your pieces.

    This is another reminder to me of how the possibilities for designs using zentangles are limitless!

  2. Great job on these! I love how the two tiles are so different, the first has delicate flowing ribbons, and the second is all angles. Cool!

  3. both look great Kit but I especially love the last one with the dots around the edge, it really brings out the white space in the middle and then the eye is drawn to all the wonderful tangles. You are so creative with your pieces I'm lucky to have you as my mentor :D

  4. These are both lovely. You've taken the technique and made it your own!

  5. i think they're both just stunning!!

  6. Nice work! I also love the grid of dots on the second tile. It really makes it something special. I wasn't familiar with 'Coil' - will have to try that soon!

  7. Wow! I absolutely love your style!

  8. Absolutely stunning! The flow, the shading, I can hardly avert my eyes from your art…

  9. Oh my goodness !! I have no words... just..... unbeleivable ... fabulous doesnt even go close !

  10. I love the dots on the second one. It really finishes it nicely.


All comments welcome...