New tangle pattern Class-EE & Review of Suzanne McNeill's Zentangle 101 class

I started tangling since about mid-2009.  And though I've never become a Certified Zentangle®-Teacher (CZT®), I've been knee-deep in Zentangle ever since.  I've created steps for over 280 tangle patterns and I think I'm one of the most prolific tanglers out there.  I'll qualify that-my work is actually Zentangle-Inspired Art rather than traditional Zentangle, but no matter how much I stray, the inspiration that comes from that method is always present.

Despite that, I've never taken a Zentangle class! Until now, anyway.  Part of the reason was that I never found a class available that didn't require travel.  When I saw that Suzanne McNeill was going to be teaching a Zentangle 101 class at the Art & Soul Retreat in Oregon, I was thrilled and signed up immediately.

Did I expect to learn anything new?  Not exactly.  I know most of the basic tangles, but I was curious to see what a class was like, and there is a zest to be found in creating with a group of like-minded souls.  I wanted to experience that with Zentangle. (and if anyone from the class reads this, I'd love to stay in touch!)

I've had people ask what the CZT classes were like, so I decided to do a review on mine.  But I suspect the content changes according to the CZT, the venue, and the length of the class.  Be sure to ask the teacher if you have something specific you are hoping to learn. NOTE: Not every one who teaches Zentangle has taken the Certified Zentangle Teaching course.  That isn't necessarily bad, but what they teach might or might not be traditional Zentangle.  

Cost: $149/$10 kit fee (plus a $50 fee for the Art & Soul Retreat)
Length: One day-09:00 am-04:30 pm
No. of attendees: 30 (I didn't think to count, so this is approximate)
No. of tangles taught: 16 (by my count)
Venue: Red Lion Inn/week-long Art & Soul Retreat
Teacher: Suzanne McNeill, CZT

The blurb from the Art and Soul catalog: 

Learn the basics of Zentangle® - a relaxing form of meditation that uses pattern-making to increase dexterity and focus your mind. No drawing experience necessary (Really!) Zentangle patterns are visually engaging and exciting. Zentangle can be used for meditation, for art journaling, for embellishment and to learn to draw ... it is a great confidence booster too. There is no way to “mess up”!
In this workshop youʼll learn lots of tangles, or patterns, the best ways to shade and hightlight on colored paper, how to tangle on black paper, the best ways to utilize stencils and rubber stamps, fun ways to add color, and get some great ideas on how to incorporate Zentangle into your sketchbooks and other artwork.
NOTE: I am a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) and have permission to teach this method. Besides the basic methods taught, the projects taught are from my own creativity. 
$10 materials fee payable to instructor at beginning of class includes :
 3 Sakura Pigma black pens (Micron 01, Micron 05, Micron 08), soft pencils. Zentangle “tiles”, archival papers, worksheets, etc. Also included is a Handbook sketchbook (you’ll LOVE it!) 
visit: for a YouTube each week
The Class
Suzanne was very generous with her kit.  I know a couple other people who attended other classes (most were not Zentangle classes) and they had to buy $25-$60 worth of supplies above and beyond the cost of the class.   Suzanne charged $10 for her kit, and I know the items came to more than that.  We received a:
Global Arts Handbook 8.75 x 5.5 in. (21.6 x 14 cm)
One piece of Aluminum Embossing Foil w/black spray paint on the back
Faux Steel wool
Embossing stick
4 official Zentangle tiles (3.5 x 3.5 paper tiles)
1 golf pencil
A 5-page instruction manual
2 strips of paper-1 sheet black, 1 sheet white
1 piece scalloped-edged paper
1 sun face print
1 slide frame
Two bookmarks & promotional materials
A plastic folder to keep all of it in!
Suzanne also brought watercolors, brushes, stencils, scissors, glue sticks and hole punches for us to use in the class.
We did five projects over the course of the day and as we did our project she drew each tangle on a large piece of paper that was taped to the wall.  In the spirit of zentangle, there wasn't much instruction.  She drew each step, and we followed.  Emphasis was placed on the 'no mistakes' rule.  There were almost no questions, and conversation was lively so if anyone was frustrated they didn't share it.
After each project, we went to a table at the end of the room and placed all our work side by side.  Suzanne went to each one and showed what made it unique.  There was no emphasis on right or wrong (though she pointed out things that worked really well).  What she talked about was that we all did exactly the same project, the same tangles, yet each and every piece was different.
We started with the tradional tile using tangles Hollibaugh, Printemps, Crescent moon, and Static. (We went into shading later in class-but I'm a shading fanatic, and added my own brand).
For our second tile, Suzanne had us glue the sun face to the tile, and create a Zendala 'Zen' tangling in a mandala circle) round it.  She showed us the steps for tangles Netting, Pillows, Bundles, Jonqual, and Clothesline.  I got frisky and added a tangle of my own, Class-EE, and I'll share the steps to that at the end of the review (waaaaaay down at the very, very end!).
Even though traditional Zentangle is black and white, most people are curious about color.  Suzanne passed out some Prang watercolors and after drawing our tangles we colored them.  The tangles we learned were Shattuck, and Bundles. One of the tangles didn't have a name (but is similar to XYP) and I missed the name of the other, but I think it is Semaphore.
Our fourth project was a little more ambitious (and a little harder to explain, lol).  Part of our kit included two long strips of paper, and a little piece of paper with scalloped edges.  
We folded the black and white strips in half, with the white inside and glued them into a little book.  Suzanne passed out stencils of a rabbit and we drew it on our scalloped paper, and glued it to the inside of the last page (black paper).  Here is where it gets tricky.  We punched holes in the three remaining pages, moving each over so that only part of the rabbit showed.  Then we tangled around each hole--continuing the tangles from beneath and adding new ones as desired.
This project was done in two steps, creating and tangling a stenciled rabbit, punching the holes and gluing things together, creating a little booklet.  We let the glue dry, and finished at the end of the day.
The tangles used on our bunny were Scallops, Rain and Cubine. The two strips of paper were folded in half, with white inside, and the rabbit was glued to inside of the back (black) page.
On the other three pages, we punched large holes (mine was ragged so I cut and made a weird shape of it).  Each hole was moved over a bit so a different part of the rabbit showed through.
At this point, we glued the two strips of paper together and let them set to dry.

After we finished our metal embossing, we ended up the day by tangling around the holes.  The idea was to continue the same same tangles, and add a few others to make the rabbit look different, or even turn it into something else entirely!

There wasn't time in class, but after I got home I used a white gel pen to do some tangling around the hole on the front page.

Although we finished the day with our bunny project, while the booklet was drying we took our metal foil and embossed some tangles.  This process included pressing tangles into the metal-colored side of foil with the wooden stick, then flipping it over, and using the faux metal wool to scrape off some of the black.  Really cool look.

This was a bit more challenging for me.  I've never done it before, and you can't really shade, so I was put a bit more on the same footing as others in the class, who haven't tangled before.  Good!  I like to stay humble!  

Overall thoughts

With 30-some people it's impossible to get the pace right for everyone.  I felt Suzanne did a great job.  A few people were more experienced and expanded on what was being taught (All right.  I admit it--I did show off a bit *blushes*) A few people struggled to finish the projects.  But most sounds of frustration were light-hearted ones, people seemed excited by what they were doing.  Suzanne offered to stay after so people did have a chance to chat or ask questions.

We weren't able to totally complete the bunny project, but someone did ask about shading.  Suzanne showed us a few things and I think otherwise most of us would have finished.  I also think most people were more interested in the shading, knowing they could finish the rabbit at home.

I was a little surprised that there wasn't more about the 'zen' of zentangle.  I had expected a mention or two on breathing or drawing stroke by stroke.  I wasn't disappointed by the lack--I had just expected more.  What I take away from this is that if you are really into that aspect, be sure to ask your teacher if it is an important part of the class.

Although, I enjoyed the metal embossing, I found it painful--you have to work hard to get those tangles done!  Others also mentioned that they were feeling their arthritis.  I know now I won't get into metal embossing! 

At the end of the day, everyone seemed energized, and eager to learn more.  Did I learn anything new about zentangle? Not really, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The projects were fun.  I  did learn a couple of non-zentangle things. And I made a some new friends.  

Thank you Suzanne, for a fantastic day.  It was more than worth the price for me.

If you are interested in taking a class, keep an eye on local crafting events.  Some Hobby Lobbys, and Michael's have zentangle classes.  There is a list of of CZTs at the official Zentangle site (see link below), and you can look to see if there is a CZT in your area.  Many of them have websites that tell you when they are giving classes.

Be sure to visit Suzanne's blog.  She is a crafter, as well as a CZT and you'll find all sorts of fun things to read.  She usually has the steps to a tangle pattern at the end of each blog entry.


Suzanne McNeill's  blog

During lunch break, inspired by what I'd been doing all morning and by the cardboard sleeve on my coffee cup, I pulled out my trusty Rhodia dotgrid Webbie and did the steps to a tangle.  I did things a bit differently, tearing off some of the sleeve, and using the red gelato paint that I got as part of my Art & Soul swag (separate from Suzanne's kit), I did some collage. Everyone knows that collage is classy, and I was taking a class, so I named the tangle Class-EE!


  1. Ohhh, I love Class-ee... gotta try that soon! Thanks for telling us about your experience in a Zentangle class - I loved to hear all the detail. I took a 3 hour class about a year ago, and got hooked. Maybe next spring I'll go for the CZT - just for the experience because I'm retired and have no intention to teach (so I say now...)

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    2. I've thought about taking the CZT class but it would be so expensive by the time I paid travel and hotel, as well as the fee, that I just haven't been able to justify it since I don't teach. If I were closer, I might go for it just for the fun of it.

  2. It was really interesting to read about your workshop experience. Being in Australia, it's highly unlikely that I'll ever get to attend one myself and have been curious :) I thought there'd have more content on the "zen" part too as I assumed it was an integral component. Your pattern looks lovely!

    1. Oh, and I desperately want one of those Hand Book Sketchbooks in just that colour. lol! Have you used it? What is the paper like?

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    3. I haven't used my Global Sketchbook yet, but I've had others in the past. The paper has some tooth--good for color pencil but not too rough for fabric tipped pens like the Micron. It's fairly stiff-almost like thin cardstcok but more flexible. Very nice quality--good binding and the book lies flat.

      There are a few CZTs in Australis--they're the first on the CZT list, lol. I chat with some of them online--Kit Murdoch, Jane Monk, Michelle Beauchamp. I know any one of them would give wonderful classes!

    4. The journals sound good. I love the binding. And the colour :) I'm just a sucker for any hardcover journals. Will have to try and track some down locally. As for attending a class - Australia's a pretty big country, and I'd have to take a plane trip to take a workshop with any of the ladies above, so not on the cards at this stage. I loved reading about your experience though.

  3. I know what you mean about distance. I didn't take a class until one of the CZT came to my neck of the woods!

  4. sounds like you had a wonderful time! i am so glad you went. i was hoping you'd tell us about it when you got back - hahaha! oh my, i would have loved to have been there!


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