I recently spent several hours researching ways to organize and store tangle patterns. I searched through blogs, Zentangle Facebook Groups, Pinterest, and Amazon. What I discovered is that all of these creative solutions from across the internet can be condensed down into four main methods of organizing tangle patterns. So that’s exactly what I did—I organized all of these storage ideas into one giant comprehensive guide so that readers can see the wide range of options out there.
Storage Method #1: Sketchbooks, Journals, and Books
Blank Sketchbook or Journal: One of the most common methods for keeping track of tangle patterns is to simply draw them in a sketchbook or blank journal. Some people prefer sketchbooks with blank pages and others prefer journals with a dot grid or graph paper. Any sketchbook or journal will work as long as it meets your personal preferences. Set this sketchbook or journal aside for tangle patterns only.
Blank Sketchbook or Journal + Post-It Notes: A variation of the above method is to draw your tangle patterns on Post-It Notes, and paste the Post-It Notes in your sketchbook or journal. Sue Jacobs CZT wrote a great blog post about this Post-It method that I strongly recommend reading (I believe she was the first to come up with the Post-It idea and deserves the credit). What’s great about this method is that the Post-It Notes can easily be rearranged as your tangle pattern collection grows.
Storyboard, Blank Comic Books, and Pre-printed Books: Instead of facing a completely blank sketchbook, you can draw your tangle patterns in a notebook with pre-printed boxes just waiting to be filled in. Here are a few notebook options:
Storyboard Notebooks: These are notebooks with empty boxes printed on the page. The boxes are intended for sketching out scenes while writing a script, but they’re also perfect for use as a tangle pattern journal. There’s even a Moleskine version and a beautiful high-end storyboard journal called Storyboard Notebooks worth checking out .
Blank Comic Book: It’s a notebook with comic book panels pre-printed on the pages. Simply fill in the empty panels with tangles.
Tangle Starts Treasures: A book by Alice Hendon CZT specifically designed for storing tangle patterns.
Tangle Organizer: A journal by Genevieve Crabe specifically designed for storing tangle patterns.
Storage Method #2: Binders, Tangle Pattern Print-outs, and Plastic Protector Sheets
Binders and Print-Outs: Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to store tangle patterns is to simply print step-outs off the internet and store them in a binder. If you prefer a sheet full of different tangles or simply an excuse to draw, then you can print out blank templates and fill them in as needed. Here are two places with free downloadable templates for tangle patterns:
- TanglePatterns.com – Blank Tangle Pattern Templates (.pdf)
- Storyboard Notebook – Blank Storyboard Templates (.pdf)
Binders and Plastic Card Protectors: If you like the idea of using a binder but prefer something more durable than hole-punched paper, then take a look at plastic sheet protectors. Again, you have a few options here.
Full Sheet Protectors: Protects a full sheet of standard office paper. Perfect for template print-outs.
Baseball Card Protectors: Draw your tangle patterns on index cards, artist trading cards (ATCs), or paper cut-to-size, and store inside plastic baseball card protector sheets.
Tangle Pattern Binders from Around the Internet: If you’re curious to see how others have organized their tangle pattern binders, check out this collection of blog posts:
- For My Fellow Tangle Junkies: Some Thoughts on Collecting and Organizing Tangle Patterns
- Keeping Track of Tangles
- My Tangle Index
- Tangle Index Project Update
- Tracking Tangles
Storage Method #3: Ring-Bound Flash Cards
Ring-Bound Flash Cards / Flip Cards: An increasingly popular item in the stationery world are blank flash cards bound together by a metal binder ring. Ring-bound flash cards allow you to easily add, remove, and rearrange cards in your tangle pattern collection. You can also remove cards from the ring and keep them next to you for reference as you draw. Another fun use of ring-bound flash cards is to take all the cards off the ring and blindly pick tangle patterns. Here are a few places where you can purchase ring-bound flash cards:
DIY Ring-Bound Flash Cards: You can make a homemade version of the above product with index cards, a hole punch, and a metal binder ring. I highly recommend these Super Thick Index Cards on Amazon. I’ve used them before, and the cards really are thick and sturdy. You can buy binder rings on Amazon or at the local office supply store.
Storage Method #4: Digital Tangle Pattern Storage
For those who prefer to store their tangle patterns on their computer or phone, here are a few ideas to help you organize them.
- Digital Tangle Journal – An eBook that can be used as a digital art journal or digital tangle pattern organizer.
- Evernote – Here’s a blog post from Suzanne Wilka CZT about how she uses Evernote to store tangle patterns digitally.
- Pinterest – The popular social media website has all the tools you need to store and organize tangle patterns. Warning: I must advise readers to store their most favorite tangle patterns elsewhere. All it takes is one locked account to lose everything you have saved. Don’t store anything you aren’t willing to lose on any social media website.
My Storage Method: From Sketchbook Journal to Ring-Bound Flash Cards
A word of caution about using the sketchbook method (Method #1): When I first heard about Zentangle®, one of the first things I purchased was a cheap sketchbook to be used as a tangle pattern journal. And one of the first things I did was diligently add some beginner tangles to my new journal. I drew these in my journal before I even drew my first tile…and it shows. These beginner scribbles are the first thing I see every time I open my tangle pattern journal. It bugs me. The inability to easily fix this problem is what ultimately led to me to spend hours researching storage ideas and writing this blog post. After carefully considering my options, I purchased some ring-bound flash cards so that I can “edit” my tangle pattern collection as needed.
The larger point here is that your skill level will change over time. Your taste in tangle patterns may change over time. There is no easy way to edit or rearrange a sketchbook, journal, or pre-printed book. For those reasons, I encourage readers to think long-term and go with either binder storage or ring-bound flash cards where such problems can be easily remedied.
If I missed any helpful links about tangle pattern organization and storage, then please let me know in the comments.