Saturday, February 14, 2015




My grocery store always has a beautiful display of gourds during the fall season.  The grouping is interesting.  They almost seem like a family gathered together for a wonderful celebration.  There are all shapes and sizes, tall and short, bulbous and slender.  The texture is usually smooth, with an occasional ridge or blemish.

This is what I thought about when I received the wonderful “Doodling Borders for Wood Burning Gourds & Drawing,” written by Bettie Lake and published by Schiffer.  What fascinated me as I reviewed the book was how the art form, Zentangle, was utilized to enhance the borders and surface of each gourd.

Many patterns are introduced and subsequently shown as border designs. There are many examples of beautifully designed gourds, utilizing transferring images and then applying watercolor pencils and paints.   Other gourds are illustrated with very intricate carved and wood burned surfaces.

The last section is a step-by-step process of choosing and cleaning the gourds.  Once all of the scraping and sanding, and scouring has taken place, the gourds will be ready for enhancement. 

The wonderfully decorated gourds, which I viewed in this book, has really captured my imagination.  They too seem like a family gathered together for a very special celebration.






Monday, February 9, 2015


 Aleene’s Glue

I just received a carton of this “Favorite American Craft Glue.”  Inside were five cylindrical 4 fluid oz. containers consisting of Clear Gel Tacky Glue, Original Tacky Glue, Quick Dry Tacky Glue, Fast Grab Tacky Glue, and Turbo Tacky Glue.  I had been doing some seed bead decorating on my Zentangle designs, and was anxious to see if any of these products would produce the results I was trying to achieve.  My mantra had been “glue, place, and stay.” 

Unfortunately, in the past I had not been too successful.  My designs were well conceived, but I could not get the glue to adhere for any prolonged time.  No matter how long I waited, there was always a recalcitrant bead that refused to stay in line.  Some of my clients accepted the designs in their asymmetrical fashion, but that was not really the statement I was trying to make.

All of the above glues hold my beads fast to the  beaded drop earrings or my Zentangle images.  Now my mantra is “glue, place, and thank goodness” for Aleene’s Favorite American Craft Glues.





After perusing this book, “The Art of Zentangle,” I decided to go on Amazon to ascertain what other readers were posting about it.  I certainly had my own opinions, but it is always useful to get other readers slant on things.  Almost 100% of the reviewers agreed with my premise that this book is extremely well conceived.  All of the sections are laid out with great care and numerous zentangle concepts are explored.

 Tools and materials, patterns and borders are all there at one’s fingertips and micro pen.  If one can see, one can “tangle.”  Page after page is enticing the reader to listen to the music and begin the dance.  On one page, a whimsical creature is introduced after a camera reproduction of cobblestone walk.  These inspirations are all around us; it is just a matter of interpretation and then presentation. 

 I was introduced to many variations of a basic zentangle pattern which then led to my freedom to think outside the box and let my imagination begin the creative movement. There are blank spaces on some of the pages which allowed me to practice.  The instructions on the mandala stencil string were fun to follow and the finished project lead to many additional zentangle drawings.  As my strings separated the tiles into different sections, I couldn’t wait to put my pen to paper tile and begin.

One doesn’t have to have to be an “artist.”  Once you pick up this book, you will be hooked on “The Art of Zentangle” and the many meditative and fun activities you can then pursue.




Friday, January 30, 2015

Seed Bead Chic

25 elegant projects inspired by fine jewelry

There are over 25 “chic” jewelry projects published by Sterling Press in this book authored by Amy Katz.  The stitches and basic techniques are well presented, along with tools and methodology.  Nothing is left to chance.  Bead path formats are large and arrow directions well defined.  Earrings, bracelets, pendants, broaches, etc., are constructed using an array of seed beads, delicas, bugles, and crystals.  Your choices are endless.

 The lush “pillow talk bracelet” would elicit more than pillow talk.  It sparkles with beautiful crystal components which would rival any Tiffany piece I have ever seen.  A couple of weeks ago the annual Veiled Prophets Ball was held in St. Louis, Missouri.  It is a coming out ball for St. Louis debutantes.  As I viewed it in the news, my thoughts were on the beautiful gowns and jewelry worn by each Maid and the Queen of Beauty.  Nothing they displayed was more beautiful than this bracelet.   Instead of Daddy purchasing them their diamonds and rubies, maybe their parents should gift them with this wonderful “how to book.”  Then when they are ready to tie the marriage knot, their dowry would be quite impressive.









Drawing for Beginners


Sterling Press has published this book by David Sanmiguel which explains drawing techniques in a simple straightforward manner.  One doesn’t need a lot of expensive tools; any kind of paper will do, along with a sharp pencil.  Although as one grows more proficient, there is a wide array of materials to master. 

My youngest grandson loves to draw.  He will pull an object out of his imagination and it quickly materializes on paper.  No stick figures for him, but a full formed torso, appendages, and all other elements that make up the human figure. One time though he had a dilemma.  I was carrying a rather large purse and he was unsure how to reproduce it on paper.  We talked about the basic shape, a rectangle, with a half round handle.  Although his army of people was fully formed he said, “I never thought about their various shapes, they were just there!” 

This book, “Drawing for Beginners” is more than “just there!”  Topics such as mediums, techniques, and subjects are discussed.  The author takes his audience on this learning experience by beginning with basic line drawing structures.  He teaches us that each object we see has definite geometric shapes and contours.  We learn that shading and texturing enhance them.  Further study reveals that we can make our drawings move by either highlighting or omission of some elements.  Perspective is another area covered in this book while utilizing various types of hatches. 

“Drawing for Beginners” maps a wonderful discovery of shapes and forms and how to see them when drawing and experiencing the world around us.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


 Last week I finally discovered what was wrong with me.  I was having difficulty sleeping and my waking hours were filled with visions of undulating strings.  My mail had come earlier in the day, and I received two packages with prescriptions of how often to use the contents and not to worry if one took an overdose.

I was overjoyed with the selection of Strathmore artist tiles of various shapes, colors, textures and sizes in one of the containers.  The other packet contained the free flowing Sakura of America micron pens that my friends were using on a daily basis. 

Now I could capture those undulating strings on my Strathmore tiles with the myriad assortment of the Sakura archival ink pens. My affliction finally had a name “Zentangle.”  My ability to focus is awesome and I no longer toss and turn each night.  I awake fresh and ready to take on each new patterning challenge. 

Many thanks to Strathmore Paper Company and Sakura Pen Company. You are just what the doctor ordered.  



Wednesday, January 28, 2015


By Sindy P.
I recently received this delightful Zentangle book created by the talented photographer, Sindy P.  She is a certified Zentangle teacher, who has incorporated her keen eye for the essence of objects with the wonderful meditative art form Zentangle. 

Her photographs in the book are enhanced with eye popping patterns which take the viewer along on her journeys.  Starting with either undulating or simple forms, each object is transformed by structured patterns.  One can follow this path by viewing both the before and after images. 

Sindy gives the viewer to opportunity to create their own zentangles on some of her photographs replicated in this book.  One does not have to acquire a large cache of supplies; a couple of micro pens and some white or black zentangle tiles will complete the list. 

If one is interested in purchasing this book, “Real Life Strings,” you can contact Sindy at and you will soon be on your way to join her on this wonderful trip.  No extra baggage needed, just a desire for the experiences of a lifetime.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alphabet Stencil Book

Stencil Fonts by Jeff Levine

 This book is a wonderful tool for capturing both letter and number images.  There is also a small section with beautiful borders and an assortment of other images.  The stencils are created on heavy paper and the lines are very sharp.  Each page has a perforated edge and therefore it is easy to place the stenciled images anywhere.  

If one doesn’t have the artistic ability, but still a creative eye, everything is here.  Lettering and numbering of all shapes and sizes are available to explore. There is a very good section on “how to.”  Brushes, and techniques are described in detail.  I recently started a beading project utilizing the “bird” image and was absolutely delighted how easy it was.  No messy transfer agents, hot iron, or ink jet printer to utilize.  Within a very short time my stenciled project was ready to enhance with the tiny seed beads.
My collection of stencils is quite large, but all of them require a sharp knife and a keen and steady hand.  This book makes the act of stenciling quite easy and very professional looking.  Way to go!



Friday, January 23, 2015

The Book of Zentangle

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas

Do you believe in fate, or do events just occur happenstance?  This is a question I often ponder.

How fortunate that these two kindred souls came together and created Zentangle, a meditative form of art.  This book presents a most joyous presentation of the history and discovery of Zentangle. 

When reviewing other Zentangle books, I told Maria the patterning reminded me of the beautiful illuminated manuscripts that I had studied while pursuing my Art-Education degree, and the fractal concept discussed with one of my professors. She agreed and in fact there is a beautiful example of a manuscript on page 14. 

In their book, “The Book of Zentangle,” one’s focus is on creating basic repeating patterns and together they brought their zen like concept of this methodology to fruition.  Tools, methods, exercises, and projects are handled in great detail. Stories and comments are shared about the feelings of contentment and peace one achieves putting pen to the paper tile and taking their life on this new path of discovery.

Fate, or happenstance – you be the judge!