Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What's in a pattern? Can they be claimed?

Recently, as well a couple of times in the past, there have been discussions in some of the FB tangling groups about patterns. Some of this has focused on what is a new pattern and what is a variation of an existing pattern. There have also been discussions about naming and claiming a pattern. My own belief is that there are probably not any new patterns, or in Zentangle® vernacular tangles, just variations. Patterns get used in the textile industry, in architecture, knitting, crocheting, quilting, art and nature. I think what has happened with tangling is that it is the newest to use patterns and over the last 10+ years, the number of tangles being used has exploded.

Are any of these new or are they just new to tangling? My belief is that the later is probably true. Think about how most patterns/ tangles come into being, even the ones that Rick and Maria included in their original publication and sometime get referred to as "Official tangle". They come from observations of other things. What the Zentangle® method provides is a way to deconstruct them. Even this is not a clear though as I have seen things posted where the end result is similar but the steps to get there are different. Maybe that is why people will talk about a step out being copyrighted and not reproducing them.

Well, this post is getting off the track. What made me think of it is a very common pattern. Here are examples of this tangle in the tangling world.

The tangle I am referencing is the one in the corners. In the tangling world it is known as Keeko.

On the left is another example of this tangle as an edge.


Here is an example of the same tangle used as a background. 

This same pattern is used in other things as well. Some that are familiar with my blog know that I also knit and crochet. Here is an example of it being used in this craft. 

In this "world" it is called basket weave. 

I think that anyone that has ever used Keeko recognizes it as a weave pattern. They are made differently but the pattern is the same. Can anyone lay claim to it? To me, the purpose of having some common names in a particular craft is that it aids communication.  Someone can use it and people know what is being talked about. So I do feel there is a purpose in naming them.  However, I do not feel that there will ever be consistency, even in the tangling world as long as there is no single data base, or official data base if you prefer to list them. I do not think this will happen, So I guess we just have to get used to there being duplication and just try not to get so "bent" about it.

Thanks for visiting. If you got all the way through this, I applaud your perseverance. As always, comments are welcome, encouraged, and appreciated.

Go Tangle !! 


  1. Thanks for putting your thoughts out - they are greatly appreciated. I was going to comment on your FB post earlier, but it proved too much of a challenge to post something this long using my phone.

    Your post reflects my sentiments and I am so relieved that I am not the only one feeling this way. As a fairly new CZT (seminar 18), I have since published four tangle discoveries online.

    When I put out the first two, I received a lot of feedback that things were too familiar or the steps were similar to something else etc, etc. Sadly, most of these comments came from the more established CZTs and most of them had not even tried out the stepouts themselves. They simply handed out a judgment based on what they perceived to be similar.

    As I very much respect the input of all fellow CZTs, I felt obligated to explain my backstory, my thought processes for each stepout, to each commentator. Naturally, this took some time and effort. I actually do see this discussion as normal and necessary, even important, to a certain degree, but I have to admit that I felt that there were some negative vibes and snarky undertones.

    I have to say that the experience has made me delay publishing more of my tangle discoveries, as I did not feel very much up to dealing with the inevitable, at-times intense accompanying discussion. As a result, I now publish tangles only when I am having to teach them in class, so that my students can find them online, in their own time. Student accessibility is the only reason that gives me sufficient motivation to deal with the feedback that comes.

    I do often wonder if we are inhibiting creativity and innovation and discouraging new(er) voices within our community by over "policing" what comprises a new tangle. When I look at the Zenthology, I actually see that there are MANY MANY official tangles that are tweaked a little, and then called something else. For example, Bales and Fife... Ennies and Tipple and these are just the ones I can think of now.

    Of course I am against blatant copies, and I agree discussion is natural and even healthy. But I am beginning to feel that this is becoming a fixation. What about some of those amongst us that are not able to cope with this kind of feedback? Many of us come to know Zentangle after a period of personal struggle of some sort and some of us have coping issues (I use this phrase in the general sense). I mean, I never thought it was possible that the CZT community could ever have a negative "face" until I released a couple of tangle stepouts myself :P

    Thankfully I am able to counter-balance the good and bad comments, as well as the satisfaction when students enjoy the tangles I've discovered. I am in a good place, and I remain overall thankful for being a part of this community. I am just concerned that we may be alienating those in our midst who are not equipped to handle the confrontational aspect of such discussions.

    As you mentioned, there will always be a 'turf war' unless we have an official database (hopefully not pay-to-use!) of tangles/authors to decide that for us. But then that will also mean some form of "policing" and "gatekeeping" will have to be involved....

    I am going to end this comment here because it is getting way too long. But yes - THANK YOU for sharing this. Again, I am really glad you did :)

    Debbie New CZT18

    1. Debbie was not really advocating for a central data base and I think that Rick and Maria have very little interest in doing it. While it may help with somethings,as you pointed out, there are a number of other issues that it creates. I think that they have also not put out much in the way of guidelines partly as their is some concern about stifling creativity. I think also that their focus is on the method and not the tangles. The tangles are a tool.

      I think that all CZTs share a responsibility to monitor what they do when it comes to patterns/tangles. Personally, I do not think that changing the way that a tangle is done makes a new tangle. I also think that if it is so similar to another tangle, to aid in keeping the number of tangles at some reasonable level, they should just treat it as a variation or tangleation. It is a little harder when there is a similarity in the end pattern but it is a subtle difference.

      Unfortunately, I think that some of the motivation for this was financial. There is one person that has published a lot of books, and they have sold well. However, I feel that a number of her earlier tangles were developed by making minimal changes in the original collection of tangles given at the earliest training. She then renamed them. I think some of the earlier CZTs felt a little betrayed as they received the same information that this document was copyrighted and it was to teach but not hand out the stepouts. It did provide them with a uniques thing to teach. This took this away. It does not mean that someone else would not have done something similar. There is someone that is not a CZT who has put out a number of videos showing their way of doing a whole number of tangles. This person is very good at deconstructing tangles. I am not sure that she always adheres to the Zentangle® method.

      I do not think this issue will be solved quickly and it will come up as new CZTs are trained. If you remember that part of the training was to go out and find patterns to deconstruct. Then a few people volunteered to demonstrate them to the seminar. I deconstructed the carpet and called it Rugz. I did not do much with it for a while but did post it on my blog and it was picked up by Genevieve Crabbe in her Weekly Roundup. A year later, a new CZT deconstructed the same pattern. There are some differences, but minimal. She submitted it to tangle patterns as Carp 3 and it was posted as a new tangle. If we get into claiming, whose is it? I do have it posted in my tangles tab on my blog.

      This is getting too long to probably digest for anyone so I will end here.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Thank you for so succinctly stating what I have long felt. There are no "new" tangles. There may be unique stepouts, I can agree with that. But the negative posts regarding who "owns" what pattern is causing nothing but zen-killing feelings. If I were newly come to the gentle practice of Zentangle, I would have second thoughts about joining in.

  3. Thanks for your article! This theme is really "hot" at some times and the discussing partys get at some times really involved....
    I found that in one database ( they coined the term "Musterschwester" means "tanglesister" or "patternsister". I think this a very good way to note on the similarities of some patterns without trying to judge the heritage.... It inspired me to look more for the relationship of tangles and not pointing with my finger on some of them .....

  4. I agree with you about naming patterns. It is nice to be able to talk about them. It is nice to be able to credit someone who has taken the time to deconstruct a pattern and share it, but I wish there was a central place where people could look for patterns so they wouldn't be continually 'reinventing the wheel." I think the obsession with "inventing" and collecting new patterns is part of the problem. The patterns are lovely, but not the point of Zentangle.

    1. I agree Cris, but I do not think Rick and Maria are interested in doing this. I also feel that unless is someone with an "official" connection to HQ that it will just be a continuation of what we have now. Someone can start a web site or group and as they are managing it, they can decide what goes in it. I think just because of its size some people infer some connection between and Zentangle® HQ even though there is not one.

      It would be a major undertaking and I am not sure who would want to take it on.

      There is also my belief that while it may solve some issues, there would be other issues that would arise and be a focus of disagreement.


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