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How to Zentangle

5 Dec

I have been zentangling for over 10 years and never realised it until I jumped back on swapbot!  Not sure what a zentangle is?  Look at the website for some information and inspiration.  If you want to get started zentangling here’s my pork as it progresses.  This zentangle was for a snowflake inspired zentangle and it is silver gel pen on a black background.  More commonly zentangles are made using black pen on a white background.

Decide on the basic pattern you want your zentangle to follow.  Seeing as this is a snowflake inspired one, I’m going symmetrical starting from a central point.

Next, fill in some extra lines, be intuitive at this point.  Anything goes with a zentangle.  For the next section you will be filling in the spaces with patterns.  You may wish at this point to look up some zentangle patterns on the internet.  You are likely to get into a medative state at this point which is why I completely forgot to take another photo until I’d finished.

Be very careful what pens you use though.  Anything other than permanent markers may smudge so you’ll have to be very careful and do it in stages allowing it to dry in between.  See below for an example of what happens when you rest your hand on a bit with a lot of filling in:

Here are some Zentangle links to get the creative juices flowing:

Zentangles on Flickr

A great list of zentangle patterns

A how to zentangle video

Happy Tangles!


Tutorial Tuesday – Dotee Dolls

23 Nov

Don’t laugh.  Please!

I haven’t made a Dotee doll before and I thought that while I’m learning I’ll create a tutorial too.  So no laughing at the finished product.  It was my first ever Dotee!

Dotees are altered art dolls that are typically between 3 and 7 inches in length.  They are simple enough for most beginners to get a hang of with basic sewing techniques.  They consist of a body, a felt face, a hanging loop and a tail of fibres.

To make a Dotee you will need:

  • Material scraps
  • Card for a template
  • Skin coloured felt
  • Permanent ink fine line marker
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Co-ordinating ribbon, fibres and embellishments
  • Stuffing material

To start off draw and cut out your template from the card.  You may find it easier to make your dotees as simple rectangles.

Attach the template to the materials with pins or draw around the template and cut out your material.  Pin the two pieces of material together wrong side out to ensure they don’t slip while sewing.

Take a piece of ribbon about 3 inches long and fold in half.  Tuck this in between the two halves with the loop inside and the tails sticking out.  This will be useful when you come to flip the doll inside out.

Now starting at the bottom sew around the doll leaving a gap at the bottom for turning inside out and stuffing.  You can do this by hand but I used a sewing machine.

Now unpin the material and turn inside out through the hole you left.

You promised not to laugh! 🙂

Next up we are going to stuff the Dotee firmly.  You may find it easier to use a pencil to help get your stuffing right down inside.  You’ll be surprised just how much stuffing you’ll need but make sure you put plenty in or your doll will have a lumpy feel to it.

Now take some lengths of fibre and sew the bottom of the doll using ladder stitch and incorporating the fibres.

Take a small piece of the skin coloured felt and cut out a circle.  Attach the circle to the doll.  Here I used blanket stitch but you can use whatever you’re familiar with.

Take your fine pinot marker and draw a little design on the face.

You’re laughing aren’t you 😛

Finally stitch on some fibres for hair and embellish using whatever co-ordinating buttons, beads etc you have!

I think next time I’ll try a rectangular doll as the shape should be better.

Mulle86 over on Swapbot gave me a few more Dotee tips:

  • It is easier to attach the face, embellishments and trailing fibres before you sew together the two halves.
  • To prevent your pen from running, embroider your dolls face on.
  • Create the face before you attach it to the doll.  It is easier to get a nice image this way.

Here are some Dotee links to spark your inspiration!

The original Dotee artist!

Dotee Dolls on flickr

ATC Background Techniques – Part 5

18 Nov

Time for another cool ATC background technique!  By the end of this tutorial you’ll be able to create cool patterns like such:


So you’ll need:



  • Surface protector
  • Paints (I prefer metallics and pearls but any acrylics will do)
  • Tubs for paint
  • Paintbrush
  • ATC Blanks
  • Candle

First up you will need to decide which of the colours will be your background colours.  This is personal choice but remember that this is the colour that will be showing through the top coat.  Paint your ATC blanks in the colours you choose.  You can either colour them fully or if you want a grungy look, apply a little paint and try and spread it as much as possible.


Next up, light the candle and  *carefully* drip wax across the cards.  You may find it easier to do this with them arranged in a tiled position; this way you’ll make less mess.  You can either drip the wax in small spatters or you can drip large amounts of wax on and tip the card to make it drip down in strands.


Allow to dry and paint over with the top coat in a different colour.


Allow this to dry and then carefully peel off the wax.

And finally admire your work!

Experiment with different techniques.  One I’d like to try is stamping an image after the first coat of paint before you cover it with wax.  Then peeling off the wax to reveal the partial stamped image below.  If you try this it would have to be done with substantial ink.

I’d love to see your creations using these or any of my techniques, please feel free to mail a photo to me or provide a link in a comment and we’ll get them published here!

Carving Your Own Rubber Stamps From Lino

4 Jun

So you’ve just laid new lino in the kitchen and you have a lot of off cuts.  What do you do with it?  Well if the price of rubber stamps is as high there as it is here, you’ll jump at the chance of learning how to make your own!

You will need:

Need these

  • Carving tools (available from craft stores)
  • Lino off cuts (no lino?  Visit your local carpet shop and ask if they have any off cuts or spare samples)
  • Kitchen scissors
  • A pencil
  • The picture you want to copy
  • A cutting board

 It also helps to have available some spare cling (you get it free with certain brands of unmounted rubber stamps, though you could use double sided tape temporarily) and a clear acrylic stamping block.

 Mess: Minimal

Difficulty: Reasonable.  Not for children.


You will first need to get used to your tools.  Lets take a look at the tools I use, along with the type of cut they make in the lino.


A is a ‘V’ shaped tool and leaves a fine line in the lino.  This tool is essential to lino carving.

B is a flat chisel and removes a large area of lino.  I hate this tool as it is difficult to use and will avoid it at all costs!

C is a angled pointed tool and is used for fine lines.  This is the tool you use to go around the outline of the stamp you will carve.  You may substitute this tool for a craft knife.

D is a large curved tool and is used for removing larger areas of lino.  If you are only planning on making small of intricate stamps this tool can be omitted.

E is a small curved too and again is pretty much essential.  It removes a medium amount of lino.

Holding the tools:

Tool C is held and used the same way a craft knife is.  For the others you should hold as such:


With the end of the tool resting in the palm of your hand.  As you practice you will develop  the hold that is most comfortable to you.  I have found though that holding the tools as you would a pencil invariably results in a sore.

Getting started:

Take the picture that you wish to copy.  This can be hand drawn or printed.  Using the scissors, cut a bit of lino the approximate size of the picture.

 Blank and picture

Take your pencil and on the right side of the drawing (the printed side) draw along all of the lines.  Once you have done this turn the picture over, place face down on the lino and like you learnt in school, rub over the back of the stamp with the pencil.


Your picture will be transferred onto the lino.  Touch it up if needed.


Using the fine line tool (C), trace around the outline of the picture on the lino.  Make sure you go both sides of the line so that when you carve, the pencil line will be left on the lino.  Some people don’t do this step but I find that it leaves cleaner, less ragged lines and helps make sure your dog stamp has the right number of limbs!

Fine line

Using the ‘V’ shaped tool (A), carve around the outlines to remove some of the lino.  Some of the smaller areas will need to have all of the lino removed using this tool as the other tools will be too large.  The best motion I have found is single fluid strokes.

 First carve

Next, using the smaller curved tool (E), carve away the remaining lino.  If there are larger areas that need removing, you will need to use the larger curved tool (D).  You may find it best to use repeated scraping motions with this tool.

 Almost done!

Cut the excess lino off of the stamp. 

So as to better visualise the placement of the stamp you may trace the stamp onto the back using permanent marker pen.  I have found the easiest way to do this is to place the stamp onto the kitchen door window.  The light will show through the thinner part of the stamp and you will be able to see the outline through the back. 

Attach some unmounted stamp cling to the back to enable it to be used with a clear stamping block.


I like to try my stamps at least one if they are going out to someone else.   I would rather make sure that I haven’t missed anything than the stamp and that it looks as it should, but used than me send the stamp and it look nothing like the intended result.


Total time to create stamp: 20 min.

Here are all the stamps I have carved to date:

ATC Background Techniques – Part 4

4 Jun

This is a round up, of sorts, of all the other techniques that don’t take too much time to achieve.

Coffee Fun!

Ok so we know that dyeing paper in a bath of strong coffee gives an aged look but if you soak a sheet of paper with water, sprinkle coffee granules onto the paper and place folded paper towels around the edge to draw up the excess water like so:

 Coffee process

Then this is the fun effect that is achieved:


Bright and Cheerful Food Colouring Dyeing:

This fab effect is achieved by soaking a sheet of paper with water, placing it on top of a few sheets of kitchen roll (paper towel) and dropping food colouring onto the paper using either an eye dropper or a straw.

The dye soaks through the paper and travels along the paper towel leaving a mark wherever it touches.


Paper Towel Printing:

Choose your colours well and you can end up with a worn look using this technique.


Take a sheep of kitchen roll (paper towel), brush on paint (slow drying, I used kids waterbased), turn over onto paper and press down firmly.

I hope to add to this ATC background techniques series again soon.  I’m also hoping to start a ‘Fun with ATC’s’ Series too so keep an eye out!