Watercolor strings for Zentangle

I've shared about Zentangle here on the blog before but I don't think I've talked specifically about strings. Basically a string is a light framework for drawing a Zentangle pattern inside the shape created. They're typically drawn in pencil so that once you've tangled with ink those light lines recede and become unnoticeable. The second thing to know about a string is they're meant to come out of your pencil with ease and without trying to draw something specific. 

What I'm sharing with this project is a watercolor string that is actually very noticeable in the finished art. But in creating the watercolor line there is more randomness that occurs compared to drawing a line with a pencil.

I've created my "watercolor strings" a couple of ways. Note that none of those ways was taking a brush to the actual paper. I've dripped the watercolor onto the paper either using a brush or an eyedropper. You can make a bunch in one sitting to create a stockpile of pre-strung tiles.

Method 1

Method 1

Method 1
— Start with full sheets of cotton paper or bond paper.
— Have fun creating color combinations while dripping your water colors on your paper. You'll need to tip the sheet to make the color run, creating your lines.
— Alternately you can water down acrylics instead of watercolors.
— Use a ruler and x-acto knife to trim out as many 3.5 x 3.5 inch tiles as you can. After they're cut they can almost fit together like a puzzle. 
— Tangle to your hearts content

Method 2

Method 2

Method 2
— Follow all the instructions in Method 1 but use pre-cut Zentangle tiles instead.


Patterns used: Modified cheese cloth, Hollibaugh, Onion Drops, MmmForesty, and Papyrus.

New Zentangle pattern: Onion Drops

One of the things I love most about Zentangle is that it's a great go-to creative outlet when creating birthday notes and wrappings. Hand drawing something is an automatic way to make something unique and special for someone.

Are you thinking Zentangle what? Here's an introduction I wrote a couple months ago.

Today I'm sharing my first Zentangle pattern. I developed this because while Zentangle is about being slow and thoughtful I wanted something that would flow from the pen a little quicker than some of my other favorite patterns. Something I could easily incorporate into those unique special somethings I was just mentioning. Searching the hashtag #oniondrops on my Instagram you can see many cards I've crafted with this pattern.

Without further a-du, here is the video and illustrated step-out for creating the Onion Drops pattern.

Why call it Onion Drops? I'm not a big fan of onions but those little purple ones are the first thing I thought of when I looked at this pattern. So Onion Drops it is.

For the Zentangle familiar you'll notice that I'm filling in some of the empty spaces with Tipple.

I haven't seen this pattern in Zentangle land but there are a few patterns I've come across that feel like they're part of the same family tree. Links to those patterns: Echoism (also one of my favorites), Inapod, Kandy Ribnz, Leaflet, Pais, Puffle, Tipz, Undling, Cruffle, and Worms.

I'd love to see how you interpret Onion Drops. Please send me images of your creations or tag them on social media!

The calligraphy trend

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Way back in March I had the urge to start learning calligraphy. I looked around the web for local classes to discover they were all booked up. Some classes had a 60+ person wait list provoking me to think 'WTF! Is calligraphy a trend?'

In my hunt for the perfect calligraphy class I  discovered that Mr. Billy Ola was teaching a class at San Francisco Center for the Book. I'd long admired his work and was determined to take a class from him. I was able to take the three part beginning hand lettering class in May after I'd stalked the SFCB website until a class opened up.

The first time I saw Billy's work was when I received this surprise in the mail.

The first time I saw Billy's work was when I received this surprise in the mail.

Each class was three hours long. We did not get to jump in and start writing elegantly with a dip pen. As Billy says "You have to wear your mom jeans before you can put on your thong." First we were given a fat felt tipped calligraphy pen to start practicing line work and a simple gothic hand. The second class we used the same pen to learn italic.

Below is 14 seconds showing over 6 hours of calligraphy done in class and as homework. You may recognize the notebook from grade school handwriting exercises.

 

I'm learning new lingo. As a graphic designer I'm used to thinking of letterforms as typefaces but in the case of calligraphy you're writing with your hand so those letterforms are referred to as the hand you are writing in. The hands we learned were Gothic, Italic, and Copperplate.

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On the third day of class we were ceremoniously given our pen nibs and started to dip into our ink wells and learn the Copperplate hand. 

The mood was set with tea for our last day of writing. 

The mood was set with tea for our last day of writing. 

We spent the whole evening learning each swash, swoop, loop and furl of the upper case letters. My personal challenge was learning to write on some funky paper. I'd bought paper with a laid finish which the nib kept getting caught on. I decided to stick with the awkward paper in hopes that future writing challenge are made easier. 

 

The really nicely formed letters on these pages are Billy's writing. I was pretty happy with the Garcia I wrote on the right hand page. Last one on the sheet. 

The really nicely formed letters on these pages are Billy's writing. I was pretty happy with the Garcia I wrote on the right hand page. Last one on the sheet. 

The capital letters are so detailed that we only focused on them in class and did not learn the miniscules (more lingo). In the weeks following the class I've taught myself using the Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book. The book is really good at explaining each letter and Billy's class was a great foundation for continuing a calligraphy practice.

To keep track of my progress I've picked a set of words to use as my version of The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. I'm sure I'll be writing that as well but I don't want to have to think of words every time I practice my fancy capitals.

Practice sheets from June. Before I'd taught myself the lowercase letters (miniscules).

Practice sheets from June. Before I'd taught myself the lowercase letters (miniscules).

Miniscules

Miniscules

Practice sheets from July. The sheet on the right is my first try at writing with gauche. 

Practice sheets from July. The sheet on the right is my first try at writing with gauche. 

Tools

Tools

Besides my practice sheets I've been marking most special occasions with some pen and ink. 

Some good practice was writing name tags for an event at SFCB for the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. 

Some good practice was writing name tags for an event at SFCB for the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. 

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Wet ink

Wet ink

Since I've taken the calligraphy class I've encountered a bunch of people who've been learning calligraphy as well. If this is a trend I'm all for it. Maybe people are tired of typing. I'm certainly gaining some vintage skills. If I ever have access to a time machine and get stuck in the 1800's I'll be pretty prepared with letterpress and calligraphy. 

San Francisco Calligraphy Resources

Mr. Billy's class. If it's full get on the wait list to be notified about upcoming classes. It's currently open! Billy was a great teacher and I loved every minute of this class. 

Hand Lettering, One night stand with Mr. Billy. For people who have already taken the first class series. I just signed up!

San Francisco Center for the Book has added more classes featuring many teachers from the Friends of Calligraphy society. 

Calligraphy in the 21st century with Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls. She teaches about once a month at Makeshift Society. i've heard great things about her class from students and have recently had the pleasure of meeting her. She also sells these adorable workshops in a box.

Arch has lots of supplies. The last time I was in the store they had a whole table dedicated to hand lettering tools. See it's a trend! 

 

 

 

Hand drawn gift wrap

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This box can be recycled for future gift wrapping or used as a treasure box. I used a combination of water color pencils and Zentangle to create the pattern. I developed this Zentangle pattern but will have to save sharing the method for a future post.