Combining Fabric Art With Zentangle? Believe it!

At some point, you would think that I would stop being surprised by the variety of art forms that exist. The diversity never ceases to amaze me, and that’s surely one reason that we all love art so much. For example, I’m fascinated with both art quilts and Zentangle®, but I never considered combining the two. It takes an artist with vision, like Nysha Oren Nelson, to conceive such ideas and bring them to fruition. Nysha is featured in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.

Fabric art Zentangles by Nysha Oren Nelson, at
Fabric art by Nysha Oren Nelson, His work, “Zentangle Book in a Box,” is a 4″×153″ work of 18 quilted panels sewn together and housed in a hand-painted wooden box 7″×7″×11″.

Zentangle + Fabric Art = Magic by Nysha Oren Nelson

Nysha Oren Nelson, Zentangled quilting art at
Detail from “Zentangle Book in a Box”


“Zentangle Book in Box” began with the idea of creating quilted pages held together to use as a reference and inspiration for free-motion quilting. I knew I could also use it as a teaching tool in free-motion quilting and Zentangle classes. The box housing the quilt pages was pure serendipity.

It started several years ago when my partner suggested I take the millions of quilted samples I had created since 2006 and make a larger work with them. Indeed, many were quite worthy of being seen, but I couldn’t think of a clear way to make it happen. The idea was filed into the recesses of my mind, and I moved on.

About this same time I discovered the art of bookmaking. As a book collector, the idea of creating books of my own was intriguing. I tried making several different types of books using paper. There were lots of pages to fill with sketches, patterns, and notes, yet the size was restricted to a single sheet of paper and therefore limited. I also made a few altered books, taking an existing book and modifying it with cuts and drawings. I got caught up in making niches and carving multiple pages. While I enjoyed the journey with paper, I missed quilting and fabric.

At the same time, I discovered Zentangle. I’ve always loved patterns, and working with Zentangles was a great fit. Here was a method encouraging focus in the meditative sense. In 2013, I took a course and became a certified Zentangle Teacher. I was especially excited to meet and study with Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. At the training I saw a lot of Maria’s work up close, in which she took old items and transformed them with tangle patterns. She mentioned finding old picture frames and reworking them by adding tangles to the damaged areas. As she was talking, I couldn’t help thinking of a box that was gathering dust in my closet. When I got home, I started to sand, paint, and cover the box with tangle patterns. When done, I realized the box could store a set of quilt sandwiches. Then I thought, what if the sandwiches were stitched together into an accordion book in its own little box?! Neat!~N.O.N.

Neat, indeed! In Quilting Arts Magazine, Nysha goes on to explain exactly how he quilted the Zentangle designs for his book. The April/May issue also includes an article by Lesley Riley on how to create a fragment fabric book, a feature by Margarita Korioth on working with thick threads, and much more. Click here to start your subscription and learn endless fabric art ideas.

Live inspired,

The Zentangle® Method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc


Blog, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Techniques


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