Monday, November 03, 2014

Born Under A Lucky Star

I intended to write about something completely different this week but the universe had other plans. Actually I could have called this blog "I Intended To..." but that seemed so defeatist. And I'm not that, not most of the time, but this morning I came close.

This story starts weeks and weeks ago. It starts with the slow decline of order in my office. I'm really blessed to have the luxury of space, actually spaces. I have a big studio in the basement plus storage for all the books I sell, an office on the main floor and a fibre arts room in one of the bedrooms upstairs. When my kids were small my husband would give them a big hug as he left on business trips and make them solemnly swear to not let me take over any more of the house while he was gone. Tidiness in my studio is all relative to what I am working on, the office has to meet the stranger standard and the sewing room doesn't get seen much but it tends to not be a problem. You may wonder what the stranger standard is. For me this means that if someone drops in or we have a workman in the house they should feel that I am really busy in the office, not slovenly. And I like that room tidy. I like to be able to sit down to work and not feel that piles of things are shouting at me to be put away. I like to be able to sit down at the antique, slant top writing desk and not wonder when the avalanche is going to blow me away. Alas, every week for the last few months I have been saying "Today I intend to get this room back under control." But I didn't. And today, well today the universe decided it was time.

On Friday night I took on the featured tangle on Square One which was Chainging or Punzel. (See if you want to learn how to draw it and while you are there make a contribution to keep the site up and running. You get a great PDF of the tangles for donating and none of us would be where we are with tangling without this wonderful resource.) Truthfully these aren't my favourite tangles but I did a bit of warmup and some sketching with them and decided to jump in at the deep end. I sketched out a string with Fengle and then filled that in with Chainging. That having gone remarkably well I decided to further press my luck by filling it in with black and using highlights as the main decorative element. I was really happy with the way the tile turned out. (My resolution for this year is to actually admit that when it happens, and it is rare!)

The community in Square One was really generous in their comments and several people contacted me directly or in the comments for more information about how I created the star. I'd promised to do a sketch to post and this morning, my other writing having gone well, I thought I could steal a few minutes to do just that. I set the card on my slant top desk and started to look for a piece of tracing paper. The desk has a couple of lift up compartments on top which are a pain to access if you have a lot of other stuff balanced on the slanted top but over the years I've become pretty adept at accessing them. Of course the tracing paper wasn't where it belonged and I looked in the drawer underneath the  part of the slant top that folds up when the desk isn't in use. Again I've become pretty good at balancing whatever is on the desk while I do that manoeuver. Tracing paper wasn't there either. So I moved the stuff off the top onto the storage drawers on the left. Finally found a piece of paper that would do for drawing out the steps and then realized  the card was no longer on top of my desk! It was gone.

I looked for an hour, slowly going through portfolios standing beside the desk, throug all the drawers and nooks and crannies. As a last resort I called in my husband to look, the man who often can't find the milk carton in the fridge. But he is a love and he was really helpful. He got a flashlight and we looked under the storage drawers, even moved them out from the wall. He went back through the desk. After a half hour of this I conceded defeat. Went and poured myself a coffee and took a time out.

Then I decided it was time to do what I should have done weeks ago. I set up a card table and started to sort out the various piles of stuff I had moved looking for the tile. Since there is no use doing half a job on this sort of thing I decided to go deeper and sort and reorganize my desk contents. So I picked up the board that covers one of the compartments and reached over to set it against the wall. My hand made contact with paper on the bottom of the cover. The tile had stuck itself to the bottom of the board with a wadge of kneaded eraser!

As a little appeasement to the universe I decided I better make a proper job of setting out the steps for making this very Celtic looking star. I even decided to take the time to do a little video about how I have begun to highlight, which has always been a problem for me and also how I shade which I know is a problem for some of you. There are lots of ways to do both of these things but these are the ways I find easiest.
I hadn't decided on a name for it until all this happened but it was obvious. It had to be called Born Under A Lucky Star.

And my office? As soon as I get this posted I intend to....

Step One:
With a pencil draw Fengle with rounded ends. Draw as lightly as you can as the string needs to disappear after the star is drawn.

Step Two:
Draw the first step of Chainging slightly differently than the original tangle. Round the end and continue into the second stroke. Use the string to keep your strokes rounded and full. I find it easier to do tiles like this if I think of them like parenting. What you do to one section you must also equally to all the others. So I do Step One in all the sections making sure to turn the tile as I go so that the flow of the strokes stays the same.

Step Three
Continue to draw the tangle. Take notice of the fact that the "ribbons" are flowing under and over each other and that the points where they go under should be similar to the point where they emerge. Also note that you stop your stroke when you come to the string.

Step Four
The basic star is completed. Now you have to decide how to decorate and shade. The video below the diagram shows how I approached my highlighting. I really struggled with highlights and only recently realized that if I start with a 005 Pigma and then use a 01 or even a 03 for the filling in and finishing I get a better result. The video also demonstrates shading with a soft pencil and a stump or tortillon.


  1. Thanks for posting this Cherryl.You are a most generous person! I love the "pretzel". I want to eat it.

  2. Love, love, love the star! Thanks for the instructions. Will try to work on it...after I clean off the top of my desk ;)))))).

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I can relate on more than one level. Thanks for sharing your beautiful star technique

  5. Very helpful! Thank you for taking the time to share your techniques.

  6. What wonderful tips for creating a highlight. You are most generous to share your techniques.

  7. Thanks Cherryl! I have never liked my highlights. I will try this technique! And I love the way you do the star.

  8. Beautiful pattern and excellent instructions. I've shared this with my group on FB,

  9. Thank you for your generosity. I, too, load the paper stump to do some of the shading, but I find a block of graphite to be convenient.

  10. Lovely star, thanks for sharing and the clear directions!

  11. Hi, Cherryl! I just found your Lucky Star because Sara Mudge posted one on the Zentangle Mosaic app. I love this tangle... And your video on highlighting and shading are extra treats! See you at Tangle U!

  12. I just discovered this. Love the braided-looking star (it sort of looks like a very elegant braided bread). I have similar office problems, except that for me it is the usual situation, not an exception.

  13. Nice how-to on zentangle patterns. I learned about these sort of things in art class last week, so touching up my skills will be fun and interesting. I hope you make more of these tutorials because they are most certainly awesome for the artists that need help drawing zentangle patterns. Hope there’s more to come. Enjoy!


Please be respectful when leaving comments keeping in mind the sensibilities of other readers when choosing the language you use. Comments that are inappropriate in tone, language or content will be removed.