Monday, August 20, 2012

For my fellow tangle junkies: some thoughts on collecting and organizing tangle patterns

I'm a perfectionist. I didn't always know this about myself, or maybe I wasn't always one and I'm just settling into my own shoes a little as I get older. But "ehh.... good enough" is probably not something you'll hear me say. Because if I'm working on something I care about, and I know it's not the best I am capable of, I have to force myself to not redo every little thing and make it as good as I know it could be (and yes, I do realize that this occasionally makes me a little bit annoying).

For example, I've attempted a few methods for collecting and organizing tangle patterns... index cards, flip cards, graph paper pads, Moleskine notebooks, different-sized journals, a small binder with page protectors, et cetera. 

First I had to let go of the idea that any journal I created would/could ever resemble Maria's... that just wasn't realistic for me. I don't mean that in a self-depricating way... but she uses journals that the pages don't rip out of. Having a journal full of mistakes and oopses and crossed-out things next to the occasional pattern that came out absolutely perfect would drive me insane. Once I cleared that mental hurdle, it was easier to think realistically about what I needed.

I had a handful of requirements in mind for an acceptable method of organizing a bazillion tangle patterns: Each pattern needed to be 1) big enough to be as detailed as necessary, but 2) not so big that each one would take up a lot of room. It had to be 3) organized in a way that I could find what I was looking for without a lot of page-flipping, 4) sturdy and 5) portable with 6) an infinite amount of room to add more patterns. 7) Patterns need to be protected against bending and dust/fingerprints but 8) removable without ruining the book and 9) not too much of a pain to move around. AND 10) it had to be pretty. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that last one, but I want what I want. *shrug* 

Here's how my lofty standards and I arrived at a solution I could run with.




The top binder contains my seminar notes, workshop resource pages, my price list, my tangle pattern PDF from Linda Farmer (a $10+ donation will get you one of those here), and other miscellany.

The pink (1.5") binder on the bottom is my personal tangle pattern collection. It goes without saying that it's a work in progress. 




This beast of a craft punch came from Michael's. This size was available with two different edges, this scalloped one and another one with plain straight edges. Hobby Lobby is my usual haunt, but they don't carry a punch (that I saw) in this exact size and shape. Kudos to the manufacturer... it has held up really well, and as you'll see in a minute, it's got some serious miles on it.




This one is 2.5 inches if you're measuring diagonally (I think that's how these punches are marketed), or about 1.75 inches on each side. I'm sorry about the quality of these pics... the glare from my work lamps blows out the whites, and I can't do much about the shadows. Hopefully you can still see ok.




The bottom view. (I heard turtles also look like this underneath when you flip them over.)





I keep spare blanks in a zipper pocket in the front of the binder with a few pens so everything gets stored together. These are from blank white 4X6 index cards... you can get six squares from every index card if you're careful. No, those are not Microns... they're Copic Multiliners, and I LOVE them. They're waterproof and archival and pigment-based just as the Microns are, but the barrel is more comfortable to hold. 

Plus they're kinda sparkly. 




So here's the cool part... these are coin collecting pages! They're thick and sturdy, and you can get 40 tangle patterns in one sheet, front and back. And, awesomest of all, the paper doesn't fall out. Ever. They're not crystal clear, but they're good enough. It's not archival quality plastic, but I really don't care about that. 

A word of advice: If you're planning on using these, take them out of the plastic and lay them out unstacked for a few days so they can air out. You know that overwhelming, noxious smell you get when you open a new shower curtain? Oh yeah... these'll make you dizzy. 




Here's a scan so you can see the page more clearly (still missing the names on some of them, but you get the idea). This is the side with the pocket openings... see how they slide in the top? 




Front and back view... room for 20 patterns per side. So far I have only had to go to a second sheet for a couple of letters. I opted to skip the shading on these to save time, but also because I didn't know if the pencil would eventually rub off on the insides of the pockets. I really didn't want to risk everything getting smeary after having put so many hours/days/weeks/months into this project. Then I would have to redo the whole thing. Just kidding. Sort of kidding. I don't want to think about it.




I made page markers for the upper right-hand corner of each sheet by printing out the alphabet in a font I like (it's Jimbo, in case you care), traced them on a light table and tangled them.




I'm in the process of adding all of the 'official' tangle patterns that aren't published/obvious/available to the general public. (Probably should have done that first.) Eventually those will have their own section in the binder. 




 I was in the middle of the Cs when I started adding the name of the person who came up with the tangle pattern on the side of each square (the name of the pattern is across the bottom). I haven't gone back to add names to the first ones yet, but I'll get to that eventually. Then I'll start combing blog posts and Genevieve Crabe's weekly roundups for new patterns to add. 

I LOVE that I don't have to throw away a whole sheet of paper if I mess up one pattern. Especially since some of these took me several tries to get right. 




I have them grouped by the first letter of the pattern names, but they're not alphabetized within each group. That way, if somebody comes up with a pattern called 'aardvark', I don't have to pull out all the patterns on the A page to put them in order. That would definitely cut into my tanglin' time.




If you've made it all the way down to the bottom of this blog post and you're still awake and alert, please take a moment to name the vicious fish (he's a pencil sharpener actually) that guards Ambrosia, my awesome drawing from Norma Burnell. If your suggestion is my favorite, you win one of these:
A shiny new black .01 Copic Multiliner! 
 You can check back after Sunday to see if you won. Have a tangly week!


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74 comments:

  1. I love your organizing system!
    How about Zorro? Because it begins with "Z" and Wikipedia gives this definition of Zorro's character: a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. He just needs a little mask! :o)

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  2. Very nice!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  3. I love love love what you have put together here... I know you have really worked hard in this project and I can't wait to see it in person.... :)
    Comming to the name of your sharpener cum fish.... How about Fishner

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  4. Oh, I think he is absolutely Fishious!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your organizing method- I too have been on a mission to find the perfect way to sort my tangles- I may have to give this a go! And I think he looks like a Francois, something about that look on his face says, "Bonjour, I am Francois, zee "sharpest" fish in zee sea."

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  6. Very interesting indeed - I've just started tangling & you've given me some ideas.
    Graphin would have to be my name for that little very benign sharpener - graphite as in pencil & phin = fin = fine as in point!
    Paula (PEP)

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  7. Oh my goodness! What a great system. I have mine in baseball card sleeves, but I really like yours! I wish I'd seen it earlier. I just can't bring myself to start over. I am a new CZT and will be coming back for more tips from you!

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  8. Awesome idea for the journal. I would name the sharpner .. Phinias.

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  9. Sandy, I must applaud you for your diligence - both in organizing the tangles and taking the time to document your wonderful method for the organizationally-challenged (like me!).
    I think the fish has to be named nemo(-)nster!! :)

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  10. How beautiful Norma's picture is!!! No wonder you want it guarded!!! I think "Huntress" would be fitting for her!!! Since your name is last name is Hunter,can't go wrong!

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  11. Holy organizational brilliance, Batman! That is fantastic. :D I use ATCs stored in baseball card deck boxes myself, but I love your technique. Beautiful! As for your fishy... well, Ambrosia is a drink of the gods, and so is nectar, and he's kinda a nectar color, so how about Nectar? Or Achilles, who was bathed in ambrosia to create his near immortality?

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  12. Hi Sandy, great Blog!! I'm jealous of your organizational skills....I have zero!! May I suggest Burnell's Bubbles. for the little sharpener fish!!

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  13. All your work is wonderful from your art to your organizational skills! I could stay on your site all day...your fishy could be called JAWS quite fittingly!

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  14. Wow, very inspirational! I could only dream of being that organized. How about Zenny for a fish name?

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  15. Arabella, just popped into my head. You are an organizational wizard and always one to have fun. My hat is off to you! Good job all around.

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  16. I'm anything but original - he looks like a Nemo to me!

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  17. I, too, have patterns organized. I use the ATC card system, one color for "official" Zentangle tangles and yellow/tan for others. A special color for mine...althought my book is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay far behind yours.

    Your vicious fish needs an unasuming name. He (or she) looks innocent, but one move towards the picture...snap~! Biting that person's ankles! I have a pink-and-white stuffed fish that tarveled with me to CZT6--his name is Finse for fins with a touch of flair--and I know he would be proud to be the namesake of another CZT fish.

    That said, I recommend Dex (or Dexi if your fish says that he is really a she and you've had gender confusion until now). Not only is Dex an official Zentangle tangle, but it was inspired by the skyscrapers of NYC. With its grid pattern, Dex is a solid, impenetrable wall of a tangle. It's short, one syllable, easy to say and it has an "x" in it. Names with x's are just cool.

    Diana

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    1. I love this tip too Diana. ATC cards and protectors are readily available. Drawing the "official" tangles in black and white keeps with the tradition of zentangles too. Love it!

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  18. This level or organisation is awesome but it is a wonderful idea. As a beginner I was wondering how to record patterns for myself so will be looking into something similar but on a much smaller scale!! I'd call that fish Angel - a bit obvious maybe!!

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    1. I started small too but now am looking at reorganizing as my patterns are growing rapidly.

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    2. I think we all start small... and then the tangle hoarding begins. ;o)

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  19. Love your organization. And yes, it is pretty. The only thing that's missing that I would need are the steps to draw the tangle. As far a your guard fish goes... My sister has a pond and in it is a gold and white coi fish that her grand daughter calls Amber.

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    1. I thought about that too & thought to put the step outs behind in alpha order.

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  20. Wow! That's what I call organized! Very impressive. Sharpay is my name for your fish. My son has added Shencil Parpener.

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  21. I like how you organized your patterns, you are way ahead of me. I have my tiles and patterns in binders, not in any order. I need to organize the binders however, it seems overwhelming.

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    1. It was at first, but I just did a little at a time and it wasn't so bad. Audiobooks are great to listen to while you work, too.. like watching a movie without having to look at it!

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  22. Great organizational technique. Love Norma's tangle! Your fish 'guardian' is called Keeper. ("keeper" is a synonym of guardian)

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  23. Barry Z. Cuda for your pencil sharpener. Standing O for your organizational skills!

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  24. I am organizationally challenged and have been working on finding a way to store my tangle patterns in a useful way.
    I have been saving the instructions on how to draw the patterns, one per page, alphabetically in a binder. This is quite bulky but helpful.
    I have made a quick trip to Michaels, where they had the punch on sale this week, and got the last one.
    My idea is to use your coin collecting plastic page for a completed example of the tangle; I can use that as a visual reference then go to the printed pages for the instructions. It is double the effort but I think worth it.
    Where did you get the plastic pages? Thanks for the inspiration in this post and your others too.

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    1. Jakki- my plastic coin collector pages came from Hobby Lobby. I don't see them on their website, but I just found these online and it looks like it might be the same thing, sold individually though.

      http://www.ihobb.com/p/COWENS/COWENS19842S.html

      Don't forget to let them air out first!

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  25. That is an amazing organizational system! I think the goldfish should be named Clementine - after one of the ingredients in Ambrosia :)

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  26. Sandy - Thank you so much for sharing this amazing organizational idea! I have binders and books and journals all over the house. I have been trying to figure out how to organize them. This is perfect! I love the creative names of the fish everyone is coming up with. I would have to say "Fin-Tangle."

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  27. Terrific! It takes a while to work out something that works for you. I use ATC-size cards in a binder. I hope you don't mind, but I've added a link to this post to my blog post about organizing tangles. At the end of what works for me I'm compiling links to other people's ideas. It's at
    http://enthusiasticartist.blogspot.ca/2012/03/keeping-track-of-tangles.html

    As for the fish sharpener (wherever did you get it?!), it's hardly a name but I've always loved George Bernard Shaw's suggestion of how to spell 'fish', in view of the mind-boggling weirdness of English spelling: GHOTI.
    Wha-a-a? you say. Well, 'GH' as in 'rough'; 'O' as in "women', and 'TI' as in 'nation'.

    :D

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  28. sandy - you know i'm going to have to give this a go, too! thank you for sharing the directions with us!

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  29. Very clever and cool idea for organizing and inspiring!
    I've got a tip to add - I've been using old business cards from 'former' employees :), using the blank side for doodles and zentangles and keeping them in business card holders like yours above. I feel like I'm making use of paper that would otherwise be thrown away, and its usually a great surface for markers, etc.

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  30. Love the organizational tips and the amazing idea for the coin holder page thingy. As one who has come into an organizational bent in the middle of my life, I can really get into this idea.

    As for your fish....... how about Garp?

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  31. Love the organizational tips and the amazing idea for the coin holder page thingy. As one who has come into an organizational bent in the middle of my life, I can really get into this idea.

    As for your fish....... how about Garp?

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  32. Wow! I'm in awe of your organization! What a huge amount of work but so worth it. That cute little fish looks like "Sharpie" to me. And I have to add that Ambrosia is stunningly beautiful! Lucky you! :D

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  33. Well, first of all, I just LOVE you! You are hilarious and I hope, one day, I might get to meet you. All the things you say about yourself remind me of myself! The organizing system is wonderful. Thank you for posting it. I have been trying to think of a way to put all my tangles in one sock and this is it! Also, thanks for the tip on the pen-can't wait to try it. As for your lil fishy, he look's like an Emmett to me! Shawn McGreevy, Wilmington, North Carolina

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  34. Just a comment about the Copic Multiliner Pens. I really like them too and will be replacing my Microns with Copics as the Microns wear out.

    Did you know that Copic Multiliners are available as a REFILLABLE pen. Look for SP behind the name. You can replace both the nips and the ink cartridges. I get so frustrated when I have worn down the nip on my .005 or .01 before the pen is out of ink. What a waste!

    Love your ideas, thanks for sharing your storage ideas with us and you already have so many great names for your fish so Im going to save you the trouble of one more choice!

    Lori

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    1. I have a couple of the multiliner SP pens. While I love the idea, they make my teeth hurt when they scrape together. There's something about that metal... *shiver* Is that weird? lol

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  35. Sandy - what a GREAT system - yep, the journals don't work - I'm with you can't look at my mistakes while waiting for the perfect tangle to flow from my pen. Will have to try the COPIC too, so thanks for the info. Didn't I see somewhere that your little fishy now has a pink friend?
    so, off the wall - how about Batfish and Robinish? That's what happens when you don't get enough sleep.....

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  36. Awesome thoughts on organizing. I currently shove paper into books and hope it doesn't all explode at some point.

    As for your fishy friend, why not ZedZee (in honor of the different ways to say CZT.)

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  37. Kuddos on your organizational skills. Like other newbies... trying to get my hand on organizing my growing mass of tangles. Love your idea, just not sure I have the time to do it all over again.

    I'm not original when it comes to naming things. I would have to suggest JavaJo . A combo of two of my dogs names... Java and Coffee. One is sweet and loveable and the other is ferocious. Exactly what your fishy looks like to me.

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  38. I just have to say, Susan: O. M. G. !!!!! What a treasure trove you've created! I'm awed. Did you make the covers (fabric? paper? vinyl? ...?) for the binders? You certainly reached your goal of "beautiful". The whole project is stunning and you're so generous to have shared with us all. Thank you, thank you.
    Name suggestion: Zeenix (or "Zenix"); "Z" 'cuz he's a cool dude and "ix" because he's also cute like a pixie...
    -Jane @ TheMindfulDrawer.com

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  39. Fabulous idea. And for the guardian fish, the pattern on the sides is definitely Vega! That's my choice and I'm sticking with it! LOL

    MaryAnn Scheblein-Dawson paperplay@hoflink.com

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  40. What a great help for us beginners. I definitely need the steps on the back though.

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  41. Oh good, I am not the only one who goes nuts with organizing tangles! Great post! I want that punch! The fish's name is Sharkner, after all he is a pencil sharkner!

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  42. Very inspired by your post! I went and got some baseball card style pages and am slowly but surly copying mine over to that! It will be SOOOOO much easier to keep track of what I have documented and what I haven't this way. Thank you so much!

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  43. Jennifer RichardsAugust 25, 2012 1:05 AM

    Thanks for the inspiration to organize tangles. Mine are, well, NOT.

    How about "Jameson" for the fish.

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  44. I absolutely love this suggestion for organizing your tangle patterns--I've been trying to sort that out for a few months now...started in a graph paper composition book until a Sharpie bled through onto another page (oh I hate that!!) and so had stopped. I definitely like how you've done your books (and so pretty!! Must love pretty!!) So...a shopping I think I'll be going--and will have to try your Copic pens, too! For your little fishy name, how about Glory, the Golden Guardian of Ambrosia...

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  45. My daughter keeps a little stuffed fish in her car that she named Matilda. I think it would be cute to name your fish after hers. I am a brand new tangler - drew my first one yesterday! So I was thrilled to find this post about how you organize yours.

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  46. Geesh, Sunday already! Here are the contenders in the name game...


    Zorro
    Fishner
    Fishious
    Francois
    Graphin
    Phinias
    Nemonster
    Huntress
    Nectar
    Achilles
    Bubbles
    Jaws
    Zenny
    Arabella
    Nemo
    Finse
    Dex
    Angel
    Amber
    Sharpay
    Shencil Parpener
    Keeper
    Barry Z. Cuda
    Clementine
    FinTangle
    GHOTI
    Garp
    Sharpie
    Emmett
    Batfish
    ZedZee
    JavaJo
    Zenix
    Vega
    Sharkner
    Jameson
    Glory
    Matilda

    I'm a little overwhelmed... I can't believe how many GREAT suggestions there are in this list. I would love to give my little fish five different names (hey, it worked for Dumbledore) but sadly, I don't have that many pens to give away.

    So I'm going to give him a first name and a middle name. The person who came up with the first name will win the aforementioned Copic, and the one who supplies his middle name will win a clear Stardust gelly roll pen (once you try it, you will want to sleep and shower with it so it never leaves your sight).

    The name I'm going with is...




    *dramatic pause*






























    EMMETT PHINEAS-FISHIOUS.

    Lucky for you I'm really (reallyreallyreally) indecisive. Looks like little Emmett is getting two middle names. You people are freaking brilliant.

    I would love to take a picture of him proudly sporting a name tag for you, but I'm pretty sure Puma has been playing hockey with some of the stuff on my desk. So much for guarding the castle... *sigh*

    Emmett is probably under a chair somewhere, sparring with dust bunnies.

    Congrats to the three winningest name-givers. Email me with your mailing address (tanglebucket at gmail dot com) and I'll send you your goodies.

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  47. I was just exploring your blog... I want to start tangling just so I can organize cute tiles in those sleeves and have a pretty book full of patterns like that. Is that weird?

    I love your blog! You're so talented!

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  48. Little Lime just linked me to your wonderful idea for organization. Love the results and the size of each pattern. Am fairly new at this wonderful art outlet and have only a hundred or so patterns, so I have to catch myself and get them organized, and this is brilliant. Thanks for such a nice thorough explanation.

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  49. sandy - i've probably commented here before, but i'm looking and re-reading your post, so it's deserving of another comment :) i'm thinking i need to come up with a pattern and name it aardvark just because i can :) hahaha! going to go (finally) and order one of these punches. i might as well try this system, i've tried all the others and nothing really seems to work. hopefully this one will! thanks again!

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    1. Some people use this system with ATC size cards instead of the 2" squares so they have room to add step-outs. Those are way too big for the number of patterns I want in one book, but from what I've read, people have been pleased with theirs.

      Come up with a pattern called aardvark, and I will rearrange the whole A section so you can be first. ;o)

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  50. how are you making those perfect ink squares on the punched squares (to put the tangles in), i know you must have a method! thx

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    1. Nope, no method. I just eyeball it. If they're too wonky, I set them aside and use them later to practice trickier patterns on. If it's really important to you that they be perfect you could try using a square stencil... seems like that could be very time-consuming, though. Maybe you could try using teeny little dots in the corners and then connect them, the way you would start a Zentangle tile?

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  51. Sandy, I think you must be reading my mind. Last night it occurred to me that my Tangle Journal is now getting so full that I spend half an hour looking for suitable ones. Also, I spent quite a bit of time last night adding the names of the people who'd designed them. The good ones are all mixed up with the ones I've messed up, and the whole thing's a total muddle. I was thinking this a.m. of perhaps starting a card index system, but your system is so much better because you can view so many at a glance, simultaneously. Keeping all the "A"s together but not alphabetically is good, too, because re-ordering when you get a new one (e.g. Aadvark lol - love it!) would be a major pain. I might also do 2 of each, stored separately - in categories, e.g. borders, dot-grids, random backgrounds, etc. but that might end up being too much work.

    I love the look of the little scalloped squares, but for me I think ATCs would be better because having the step-outs would be helpful. I could use the backs for this. Also I already have a few spare ATC pocket pages, and know where I can get more - the are A4 size (UK) to fit in binders I've already got.

    I will probably go on using my journal because it's convenient for drawing new tangles and practising, but when I know I like them and will want to keep them, they can be transferred onto the cards. I've got a cutting layout for getting 9 ATCs from a sheet of A4 so it will be a doddle to cut lots of them out.

    Sorry to come to this post too late to contribute a name for the fish. I was going to suggest Tanglefish but seeing what other people have chosen (and what eventually won!) I wouldn't have been in with a chance!

    I use Zig Millennium pens for my tangles. Mostly just because our local artists' suppliers sell them. I suppose any permanent archival black pens would do, that come in various widths - whatever one likes using, really.

    Re the shading and storing - I have got some acrylic-based matte fixative which would probably solve the problem of smudging - I can't see it being a problem with the plastic pockets. It's archival, and pretty stable.

    I love Ambrosia! She is beautiful. If you want to see my "La Bella" in the same vein, visit here:

    http://shoshiplatypus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/zentanglesjournal-pages-and-art-work-la.html

    She's at the end of a rather long post with some examples of pages from my journal which you might or might not find interesting!! (Skip to end if the latter is the case!)

    Shoshi

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  52. Wow, your book is a piece of art in itself. Thanks for sharing!!! It's a GREAT idea!

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  53. Sandy, I am not sure if you will see this comment, since it has been a long time since you posted this information. I am really impressed with your system and have decided to make this one of my projects for 2013. Today I went to Michaels with my coupon and bought the punch and I already have paper similiar to the Zen tiles. So where do I order the plastic sleeves from? By the way, I am sure we met in February, I too was in Providence for the CZT 8 seminar.

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  54. Hi Sandy, me again. I have now made good headway with my zentangle album based on your idea. I am using ATC-sized cards and these are proving a great size for the design on the front and the step-out on the back. I am storing them according to type (backgrounds, borders, etc.). I managed to get a brilliant A4 ring binder with 4 D-rings which holds the pages nice and straight - most A4 binders here in the UK only have 2. In the back of the binder I am keeping the large (A4) originals of my own designs (just started doing this!) and maybe some ZIAs, all in clear archival pockets.

    This binder also has clear pockets on the front, back and spine, so I am going to insert a piece of card into each pocket, completely covered with tangles and with a title. Inside the front and back cover is a clear pocket for putting extra things in, and I'm keeping my blanks in those. My pens will remain in my plastic pencil box along with my ultra-soft pencil, paper stumps, eraser, pencil sharpener etc.

    Thank you again for such a brilliant idea! It is definitely working for me, and I've had loads of great comments on my blog about it.

    Shoshi

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  55. Awesome... I'm glad it's working out well for you. I'll have to go check out your blog!

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  56. This is amazing. I, too, have trouble with journals. I'm immediately adopting this method! Thank you!

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  57. Dear Tracy, thank you for the nice comment that I accidentally deleted. Butterfingers here.
    -Sandy


    >>>Oh my goodness! That is such a brilliant piece of work Sandy. I have been looking for something like that as I am the same as you and tend to throw things away when it isn't perfect.

    I have only gotten into Zentangle over the past 5 months and have found how much steadier my hand is when drawing other things. Trouble is I too have multiple journals, books, pieces of paper lying around experimenting with patterns and drawing as many of the Zentangle patterns I can find. I have started using tags - drawing six boxes and drawing the steps (my memory sucks big time). I think I like your idea better ��

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  58. Great organization!! I thought of a similar plan and bought stamp collecting pages on ebay--100 for about $7. They also hold a lot but are crystal clear and load from the sides. Rather than put mine in alphabetical order, since I often don't remember the name of the one I want, I'm organizing by type. For example--leaves, dark filler, light filler, geometrics, etc. Don't know for sure that this will work 100% yet. I do love the puncher that you got--so much easier than cutting each with a scissor and the scallop edge is pretty! Thanks for sharing!!

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  59. Tango the Zentangle Rangler!!!! Love it??? :)

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  60. Great organizing idea! Can't wait to see more! i think you should name the fish SHARKY!

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  61. I love your idea for storage! I have that very punch and did not think of using it that way. Can't wait to see more. I think the guard fish should be SHARKY!

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  62. Great idea! I have that very punch and did not think to use it that way. I think the guard fish should be named SHARKY!

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  63. Great idea! Name the guard fish SHARKY!

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