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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Use this Random Tangle Selector with your TANGLE GUIDE to help you select tangles. See Pages 7 and 9 of the Guide for instructions. You can also use this to select random Strings: simply pop in any number in the range of 1 to 250.



The importance of Strings STRINGSOne of the many wonderful things about the Zentangle® method is it intentionally eliminates the thinking, the planning, the decision-making that often stymies creativity. We don’t have to consider things like:

“What color will I use?” No decision required – in Zentangle, we use black and white.

“How big will I make it?” “What support should I use?” No decision required – the size and support is already provided by the 3.5 x 3.5-inch tile of high quality paper.

“What will I draw?” No-thing. Zentangle is an ensemble of abstract patterns created one deliberate stroke at a time.

Along the same lines, lightly penciled Strings are an integral part of the Zentangle Method. They are always done in pencil so they disappear into your completed Zentangle. Strings provide the foundation that helps us create our Zentangles without thinking or planning. “Strings provide an elegance of limits within which our creativity can flow and expand without fear of failure.” (Beginning Zentangle booklet in the Official Zentangle Kit.)

But this is a place where occasionally we can use a little help. Drawing a string can sometimes present a challenge of its own. So …

Starting today I’m going to post the occasional string suggestion for your use. And here is the first one to get started:

TanglePatterns String 001

TanglePatterns String 001

Right-click image to download and print. Pinning of any content from this site is not permitted. Thank you for respecting these rights.

You can easily recreate this string yourself on a tile. The above image was enhanced to show the string, but you should use a light touch with your pencil so the string disappears into your completed Zentangle. If any string seems complicated to you, print it out and trace it onto your tile. You can use a wax-free transfer paper like Saral, or simply use the impression from your tracing to locate the string and lightly restate the lines with your pencil.

Use any tangles you like. If you’re new to Zentangle, I suggest you start with the published Official tangles. Use any string over and over again with different tangles. Use it with only one tangle – a monotangle. Usually each string will have many options. And remember, there’s no right-side-up.

The String Series will be numbered so we can reference them easily. This one is “TanglePatterns String 001”. (Oh, really?)

An open invitation/request to share your Strings

I’d love it if you will contribute to this new resource by sending me jpg images of your favorite strings to share with the rest of the community through TanglePatterns. I’m going to post them one at a time, so there won’t be an overwhelming onslaught. And I’ve set up a separate category, appropriately called “Strings”, on the alphabetic index bar above so you’ll always be able to find them.

When there is enough content I’ll be creating an electronic STRING GUIDE to refer to, together with your TANGLE GUIDE. Now that’s exciting!

The Guidelines and a template

Draw your string in a 3.5 x 3.5 inch square – I’m providing a template for you to use if you don’t have an actual Zentangle tile to use, or just prefer not to use a tile. Instructions are included with the template. The template helps keep all the Strings consistent in size for the site.

  • Strings are always drawn in pencil, BUT for this purpose please draw it in black ink (or a very dark pencil) so it will display properly online
  • Scan your drawing at 300 dpi  – on my scanner, grayscale mode produces the best results
  • Save it as a jpg file
  • Email your string jpg to me as an attachment

Download the String Submission template here.

My preference, in keeping with the spirit of Zentangle, is that the strings are drawn free-hand. But if you want to use stencils, quilting stencils are good ones, or any other drawing tools such as French curves, that is okay. Bear in mind that others will have to reproduce your string easily for themselves. By “stencils” I don’t mean birds, for example, or any other physical objects, but patterns – squares, triangles, circles, ovals and so on.

Sharing your Zentangles using TanglePatterns Strings

This new “String” series is not intended to be a challenge of any type. There are no deadlines, the series will be a resource than can be used and reused any time.

However, I created a flickr group – TanglePatterns Strings – so if you’d like to share what you have created using the TanglePatterns Strings and to see what others are doing with the same strings, you are more than welcome to add them to the group. Who’ll be first to use 001?? (Okay, so that was a bit of a challenge.)

I added the link to the flickr group in the left sidebar (over there <<<) under “SOURCE WEBSITES” so you’ll be able to find it again any time.

If you have suggestions, improvements, to add to this new feature, please email me or share in the comments. My head hurts from trying to figure out all the logistics of this so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lay down.

Have fun with the new Strings!

eBooks available from STRING GUIDES, Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Sure you can download the strings from the site but this saves you tons of time and as always your purchase helps keep TanglePatterns going and growing. Each STRING GUIDE begins by describing the importance of Strings in Zentangle® and then presents 50 strings from the site’s resource. Strings are given in two formats to jump-start your Zentangle creativity: three pages contain “at-a-glance” size images of all 50 strings, followed by 13 pages of full-size traceable images. Additional String suggestions by several CZTs are also provided. As an added bonus, beginning with Volume 2 each guide also contains blank String Organizers for you to record and organize your own favorite Strings. STRING GUIDE, Volume 1 (Strings 1-50) STRINGS GUIDE, Volume 1: Strings 001-050 VOLUME 1 - STRINGS 001-050. A 22-page PDF eBook. STRING GUIDE, Volume 2 (Strings 51-100) STRINGS GUIDE, Volume 3: Strings 101-150 VOLUME 2 - STRINGS 051-100. A 24-page PDF eBook includes bonus blank String Organizers to organize your own Strings. STRING GUIDE, Volume 3 (Strings 101-150) STRINGS GUIDE, Volume 3: Strings 101-150 VOLUME 3 - STRINGS 101-150. A 24-page PDF eBook includes bonus blank String Organizers to organize your own Strings. STRING GUIDE, Volume 4 (Strings 151-200) STRINGS GUIDE, Volume 4: Strings 151-200 VOLUME 4 - STRINGS 151-200. A 24-page PDF eBook includes bonus blank String Organizers to organize your own Strings. STRING GUIDE, Volume 5 (Strings 201-250) STRINGS GUIDE, Volume 5: Strings 201-250 VOLUME 5 - STRINGS 201-250. A 24-page PDF eBook includes bonus blank String Organizers to organize your own Strings.
Visit the STORE > E-BOOKS page for more information and support by getting your copies now!



34 comments to The importance of Strings

  • Patricia del Moral

    I love this idea, plus my sister is new to tangling and this will help her immensely.
    Pat del Moral

  • Trudi

    I started with strings, and just drew them freely…and then found myself really enjoying drawing a simple shape and filling it in – stripes on a lighthouse, sections on pumpkins, wings on a bird, sections on a Christmas tree for a card. I still have fun with strings, but sometimes I draw them a bit more deliberately than I did at first, to allow ribbons to add words or just swirl through the design.

  • Gwen, Victoria, BC

    Hi Linda: Looks like you’ve discovered another “winner”!! Well done.

  • Barbara

    I simply want to thank you for all you give to us. You not only brighten my day when I open your e-mail, but you are pulling together such collective wisdom about Zentangles. All your efforts are appreciated!

  • Sue Zanker

    Still a newbie, I was most interested about your words on “strings” and their importance. Initially, when I started tangling, I worked the tangles around letters of the alphabet (I’m a calligrapher) so I guess the outlines of the various letters, actually acted as string ‘boundaries’. Just lately though, I’ve been working without the letters and have dutifully used ‘strings’ as a base to start, which is fine, but I find my tangles, as I do them, seem to make their own shapes and start wandering around past the ‘string’ lines…..Should I let them go ? or jerk the lead and get them back into the string shape ?? They just seem to grow and do their own thing and ‘instinct’ tells me it’s OK to let them wander, but just how much “wandering” is acceptable ?

    • Linda Farmer

      Let ’em wander! The strings are a structure you can work with but you are free ignore bits of them when your intuition tells you how your tangles want to grow. That’s the thing about Zentangle, the outcome will usually surprise you.

  • Lorraine

    What a brilliant resource this will be for me! The string is the hardest part for me, simply because it’s the first stroke on a new, clean piece of paper, and I always find it so difficult to make that first mark. This is a wonderful website, Linda – thank you so much for everything you do here.

  • Shelley

    I have been tangling I think for a year now, enjoying it immensely. Going through a really hard time with an alcoholic husband,, and one uncle has a rare cancer. And the other tried to kill himself. I have been sooo stressed. Tangling has been my salvation. I disappear into my tangles and have purchased nearly all the available books. I subscribed some time ago and sit with my guide and draw. I do have a little trouble with strings though sometimes, so I will definately be keeping note of all the strings you post. Keep up the good work. You keep me sane. Thankyou,, thankyou, thankyou.

  • Phyllis Knoll

    I am very much a newbie and am beginning to worry about my lack of pattern retention. Does anyone else have this problem? Too often my zentangles look similar and I have to pull out the books and shake the cobwebs in my brain. “Oh, I remember this pattern…” It’s frustrating. I really like how Trudi uses the patterns.
    Anyway, I wanted to thank you Linda for sharing. Your work is awesome!

  • Melissa

    Could you please include some Zendala strings for circular tiles?

  • Sue Zanker

    Thanks Linda, a wandering they shall go ! A marvellous idea of having a “communal bank” of string ideas to go to… really are a legend!
    Another wee comment; I noticed you said it was OK to rule lines on the strings, but I thought we weren’t supposed to rule, that it all has to be freehand ?

    Melissa’s request for some string ideas for the Zendalas is also a great idea. I have the tin of Zendalas, and prestrung as they are, (some with ruled lines there too) they will eventually run out and as far as filling a circle free hand, my mind doesn’t even want to go there just yet !
    Thanks for all your time and hardwork you put in too !!

  • It may sound a bit odd, but I often make my strings with my eyes closed! It keeps me from being influenced by shapes around me. I let myself relax and just breath for a minute before starting. My left hand acts as something of a guide to keep me within the bounderies (sic) of the tile, while my right hand seems to move lightly on it’s own. After that, all bets are off as to where the tangles will go and what they will do!
    I do more ZIAs than I do classics tiles. So things can get interesting when a string gets more complex.

  • Deena

    Wow, You already have a fantastic website which is a main resource for me and many others. Now you have managed to make it even greater! Love your addition of strings and your ideas for presenting them. You have put a lot of work into this and I applaud you!

  • Laurie Hunt

    Thanks Linda, Strings sometimes can be a “thought” process. Something else that I struggle with, and I never thought to pose it to you until now, is how to “leave the string and have tendrils running out from the main tangle. When others do it I think it looks amazing. When I do it, it looks like a poorly added appendage. Not good! Any thoughts would be helpful. Thank you.

  • Thank you!! I’m so excited about string templates!! Yay!

  • Liane Worth

    Linda, this is a great idea, thank you for all the time you put into your site. It is such an inspiration. It will be great to see some string ideas from others, its all to easy to keep doing the same old thing. Liane CZT8

  • This is a fantastic idea! Even the simple string you gave to start with has given me new ideas. Love it!

  • Patricia del Moral

    Pure genious, Now we have more to look forward to.

  • Joyce Block

    Linda, what a wonderful idea this is to include strings in tanglepatterns. This is really a very complete and very helpful website. Thank you so much for your work.

  • Jay

    Thank you for the great concept of “pre strings” from everyone!!! I like to draw my own for the Diva’s challenge, but I also love having extras around to just pick up and tangle on!!!! Great idea….By the way, I downloaded my Tangle pattern booklet to my Kindle fire so I always have them with me….I spend quite a bit of time sitting around hospitals…my husband has some health issues, so it is great to travel light!!! thanks again!

  • Joyce Blodgett

    I finally completed a rather large ZIA project, with a string that ended up with some 47 sections; my roommate and her man friend like it, but complain that “…it has no sense of direction–what’s it supposed to BE?” I was obviously successful in all the Zentangles and ZIA I used in it!
    Unfortunately, I can’t reproduce the string–you can imagine how many directions it went in on a piece that measures 14″x20″–but it sure was fun to fill in!
    I didn’t follow each segment as drawn every time; I overlapped as seemed appropriate, and changed directions as the ‘tangles dictated.

  • Sandra

    In making strings, I have used 2 pencils held together so they are a constant size a part. I then draw strings and twist around and back/forth or whatever. A different looking string emerges!

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Thanks for the reminder, Sandra. Quite some time ago one of the Diva’s early challenges was the Two-Pencil String and I believe it was presented by CZT Margaret Bremner. She uses a rubber band to hold the pencils together, if memory serves. This is a great way to get more mileage out of any string.

  • Joanne

    My friend introduced Zentangle to me a couple years ago. I haven’t really had opportunity to sit and just play using your website; I do look forward to that someday. I have learned some patterns, but they can never stay inside a box shape at all. It is so funny. I started with the 3.5 x 3.5 shape, but the tangles started hopping out and zooming off. Soon I found my strings began to be shapes; I would see animated objects inside the tangles and soon there was an eye in the middle of a tangle where a fish shape took place, and I can’t seem to do a basket weave (I’m not sure the real name) without it turning into a woman’s face with a beautiful turban on her head. One day I was doing some work for my Bible class and had some leftover die cut-outs. The next thing I know I am no longer using a square shape, but there’s a frog behind a flower or butterfly… So, I joke with my friend that I don’t suppose these are “real” Zentangles, but they are so enjoyable to do, and I am thankful for your generosity in sharing this gift to me.

  • Thanks for the Guides to the Tangles and the Strings. Having them printed out makes choosing so much easier. I wonder if there are any strings for ATCs; they would be a great help. Till now, I have been trying to scale down the regular strings to fit in the ATCs, but having some designed specifically would be very helpful.

  • Pam Guitreau

    Although I love looking at the beautiful, finished strings i was wondering if there is a place to see the numbered strings with no tangles.

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi Pam, it appears you missed this sentence: “I’ve set up a separate category, appropriately called “Strings”, on the alphabetic index bar above so you’ll always be able to find them.” 🙂

  • Hi Linda and all! I love the new idea of linking back the drawings to the strings. I have been working through the strings in order and have just started a blog on which I posted String 001. Please have a look and give me comments and criticisms. But also know that this was one of my very first efforts. I think I have come a long way since then.

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi Maura, many thanks for participating in this new feature of the site. I’ve been working on my 2015 GUIDE and haven’t had time to add the linking feature to many of the Strings yet. I’ve done up to String 040, and worked backwards from the most recent. Over the next while I’ll be adding the linking feature to the rest of the Strings in sequence from 041 on … thanks for your patience! And thanks again for sharing.

  • arlene

    I am very new to Zentangle, and I love all the new ideas. I look forward hearing and seeing any ideas and putting them to good use this summer.

  • MonaLisaK

    Wow, this truly was an eye-opener into the world of Zentangle. I greatly appreciate all of your hard work you’ve put in to create and I’m a new subscriber of the weekly newsletter.

    I just love the idea how you don’t need to “know” how to draw, and you can still make amazing pieces of art with these patterns. I have already created few drawings, and the result has always surprised me – in a good way.
    I always wanted to draw but never was able to create anything that satisfied me, until I found the idea of tangling, and this web page!

    And I can so feel the calming energies flow through me, when tangling! I would be very interested about the course also, if there is possibilities in Europe for taking it at some point :).

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi MonaLisa,
      Welcome to TanglePatterns and Zentangle®. There is a lot to learn on the site so be sure to visit all the pages on the top menu bar of any page, and also the TUTORIALS tab on the pink alphabetic tangle menu bar. For more about teaching Zentangle visit this page. Certification seminars are held about 4 times a year in Providence RI and people come from all over the world for the magical experience. There’s also more on including this FAQ page. Hope that helps! Great to have you with us …

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