Thursday, March 27, 2014

*Sparkle* and Shine and Many Thanks to Sue

Recently, an avid tangler (who is mostly self-taught), wrote to ask me about the term "sparkle".  She had read about it, particularly on my Tuesday posts, but was not quite sure of what it was all about.  By definition,

Sparkle is the deliberate skip in a line to add highlight to a tangle pattern.

Sparkle is a tangle enhancer.  That is, it is a special little extra added to a tangle pattern to make it - in the case of sparkle - shine!

For more fabulous information on the subject, I turned to Sue Agnew.  Sue has been a regular contributor to my "It's a String Thing" challenges since they began last fall.  I've affectionately crowned Sue "Queen of Sparkle" because of her signature style of tangling.  I appreciate her love of adding sparkle to most every tangle she draws.

 She was happy to explain how she came to be such an avid sparkler -
I have always greatly admired Maria's [Thomas'] work, and noticed right off that she used the sparkle technique (not knowing what it was called) to highlight certain areas. I know it is very un-Zentangle to compare yourself to someone else, particularly if they are a professional calligrapher and artist -- but anyway I could never get the sparkle technique to work for me. Also at the time I was getting frustrated because I would do a tile and like everything about it except one tangle or another, particularly if it was a new tangle ... so I decided it was "OK" to practice tangles before using them in a combination work. And I started practicing adding sparkle to everything. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But I'm probably comfortable with it now because of that time spent in total immersion or one might say total obsession.
Anything with parallel repetitive lines can be "sparkled". It's easiest when they are straight or nearly straight lines. The main "tip" I would have is to be sure the stop and re-start are all in the same line (the sparkle is just a break). I particularly had (and still have) trouble with Printemps because with curved lines it's difficult to break and re-start the line without hooking the ends.

Sue graciously sent five scans of her work along with brief notes on which tangles work well with sparkle. She said,"Until I started doing your challenge I used Aquabee Super Deluxe 4 x 6 inch sketch pads for my tangles ... I still do, and then for the challenge I tear out a page and cut it to 3.5 x 3.5 inches."

Here is the first of her pages -

Study in Sparkle by Sue Agnew
She was pleased with sparkle on Puf and Chaining - Meer as well, but "not nuts" about Warble.

Sue followed with this picture along with her observations about how sparkle behaved with the tangles -

Sparkle Study by Sue Agnew
Beelight -- OK (that's one of those hard ones with curved lines -- you can see how the ends sometimes "hook" instead of continuing smoothly); Footlites -- curved part OK, rays what's the point; Avreal -- OK; Ixorus -- not so much.
Sparkle Study by Sue Agnew
And more wonderful commentary -
Snood -- love, love, love; Inapod -- one of my favorite tangles and the sparkle works on the "pod" but on the inside it looks creepily like an eyeball; Bucky -- why (I love to draw Bucky but the sparkle doesn't do anything); Tuftid, not so much; Cockles & Mussels -- I like it but it's hard because of that curved line thing and the lines really need to be closer together I think.
Sparkle Study by Sue Agnew
Of the picture above, she noted that W2 works OK, Pea-Knuckle is well suited to sparkle while Ixorus is not.

And her notes about the following picture speak better than I could recreate -
Socc -- yes; crescent moon -- OK; Bucky -- nah; Avreal -- OK; Nekton -- nah; can't remember what I outlined the string with but it works fine; Cadent mashed up with Afterglo -- yes .
Sparkle Study by Sue Agnew

What a treasure of information and inspiration - and a rare treat at that.  It is a  privilege to be privy to Sue's learning process, to walk through her discoveries, and to view her notebook pages.

Many, many thanks to Sue, "Queen of Sparkle", for the special treat and for enLIGHTening us!


  1. Wow - I've often wanted to 'climb into the brain' of talented people to see how their mind works. This is a wonderful peek into hers! Thanks!

  2. Wow, thank you, this was very very helpful.

  3. This is so helpful, Adele! I adore sparkle, and am often less than happy with my own results. Pinning for reference!

  4. Sue's lightness and confidence of stroke are a beauty to behold. I know I will come back and look at these pages and read the words again and again. There is so much to learn from each other.

  5. Great article - thanks. Where can the stepouts for warble be found? I have not seen them and I wanted to give it a go in the last challenge. I may have overlooked them on tangle patterns,but I don't think so.