Diva's FAQs

Over the past couple of months as the challenge has been growing, i've had a few questions asked of me, frequently... which led me to creating this page of Frequently Asked Questions!  I'll try to answer them as best i can, and add to it as questions get asked.  (if you have a question, or a comment please feel free to email me at lauraharmz[at]gmail[dot]com with "Diva FAQ" in the subject line)

I'm not a Certified Zentangle Teacher, can i still do the challenge?
Yes! This challenge is open to everyone who wants to join it.  One of the great things about this challenge is the community that's evolved - we're all learning from each other, CZTs and Zentangle enthusiasts alike!

I don't have a blog, can i still do the challenge?
YES!!! Please do!! There are many free image hosting websites you can get that will allow you to link to your images.  Some examples are Flickr and Picassa off the top of my head.   However, you don't need to do any of this - you can just visit each monday and do the challenge on your own.  That's totally cool and so many people do this.

How do i "get" the weekly challenge?
I actually get this question a lot.  The only way to get the challenge is to come to my blog on Monday mornings.  I have yet to find a way to "send" out my challenges to people that wouldn't be annoying or a lot of work on my part.  This a volunteer gig, and i'm a busy mom - so i can't commit any more time than i already am.

Can i email my submission to you?
you can, if you just want to share!  I love to see them. 

What happened to the Slideshows?
yeah, the slideshows.  In the beginning i used to create a slideshow of each week's challenge.  They were beautiful and i loved seeing everyone's work all together in one place.  It's like seeing the mosaic of everyone's tiles at the end of a CZT class.  However, creating the slideshows became a lot of work.  It involved visiting everyone's blogs and downloading, naming, and saving their submissions to my computer, then uploading them into a challenge folder online that i could create my slideshows from.  When there were only 10-20 participants it wasn't such a big deal, but the community has grown so much that, even with help from a lovely woman who volunteered each week to collect the images, it was just too much.  Believe me, i miss them too.  And maybe someday there will be a way to collect everyone's tiles, but for now this is how it is.

I want to start a blog, what do you recommend?
Personally, i like Blogger .  I've been using it for over 10 years now, and it's always been pretty great.  It's free and fairly user friendly and easy to get started with.  Wordpress is also a good one, but i'm not as familiar with it to be honest. 

What's the deal with the ads?
the deal with the ads is - i receive a small amount of money per visit to my blog, and also per "ad click".  It's in no way a money maker, it essentially buys me coffee every month, or maybe some art supplies if i save up. ;)

What's the deal with the tip jar?
The tip jar is exactly what it sounds like.  This is a volunteer job.  I don't really make any money from this blog (aside from coffee money from the ads).  I love my blog, and i LOVE this community and i don't want to make this a paid-for-service (which has been suggested to me many times).  If you love my blog, and you want to let me know, the tip jar is a way to show it.

What is the best way to take a photo of my tile, and what do you use?
Good question.
and honestly? like 99% of the pictures on my blog, including my tiles, are just done with my phone.  I currently have an iPhone5.

 I have used a Nikon D3100 to take my photographs.  I generally leave it on the Auto setting with the flash off so i don't get a flare on my tile.  It seems to be working... having said that - before i got my big fancy DSLR i was using a Canon Point and shoot digital camera, and that worked great too.

Natural light is the best for this kind of thing, i've found.

Most digital cameras should have a macro setting (it often looks like a flower?) and that's provided some nice results for me in the past...

but honestly - the best advice i can give is to stabilize the camera somehow.  Like with a tripod... but who am i kidding? I don't pull out the tripod every week to take my photos... i often put my camera on a solid surface, like the kitchen table or a bookshelf, and take the picture.  My camera takes pretty large photos, so i can zoom in and crop out all the rest of the junk in the picture if i have to after the fact.

All of this seems like maybe a lot of work.... i do it all the time so it's not that big of a deal for me.  But y'know what also works if you have one? a scanner.  (i never think to use mine cuz i always work on my laptop and i'm often in various parts of the house when i'm posting).

If you really wanted to be hard core you could make a light box for photographing.  there are lots of tutorials on the web on how to make a cheap and easy lightbox at home.  

having said all that - i've had submissions emailed from cell phones that look pretty awesome as-is without cropping or editing.

Are my tiles good enough to be on your slideshow?
YES! these challenges are not judged or juried by anyone.  If you submit it, it's good enough to go in.  I never want anyone to feel like they aren't *good enough* to join in, cuz that's just horse poopy.  If you've been hanging back doing the challenges but feeling too shy to post your tiles - PLEASE post them!  This challenge has participants as young as 6 and as old as 80+, with various levels of "artistic" talent (pshaw, i hate even typing that... everyone EVERYONE can do this), with people who've been Zentangling since inception to those who just heard about it today!!  ....and as i said, we are ALL learning from each other.   Please don't ever feel like you aren't *good enough* to join in.  You will be amazed by all the support you'll get from playing along, i kid you not - these people are amazing.

What materials should i use, and what materials are YOU using?
Unless otherwise stated - I use official 3.5" x 3.5" Zentangle tiles and Sakura Pigma Micron pens.  "Zentangle uses a mould-made, acid-free, 100% cotton, heavy-weight fine artists' paper with a beautiful vellum surface finish. This paper is designed for etching, engraving, woodcut and other fine art techniques such as Zentangle, and is usually reserved for special editions." (from the Zentangle website)
For your own work, while i would recommend using the Zentangle products simply because of their archival quality and how NICE they are to work with, you can use what ever medium you like... from coffee mugs to loose leaf paper, ball point pens to sharpies - i'm not picky.  (Technically, anything that is not on a 3.5" tile is considered a Zentangle Inspired piece of Art - or ZIA)

What time zone are you in?
hm.  According to google i'm in Central Standard Time, but here's the tricky part - in Saskatchewan, we don't observe daylights savings or anything like that.  So, we're always the same time.  if you're ever unsure - i put a clock on my blog so you can see what time it is in my little world.

Can you add me to your mailing list?
uhm, no.  and only because i have no idea how to create and manage a mailing list. This doesn't mean that i'm opposed to having a mailing list... maybe someday i will...  if anyone knows how to go about that, please drop me a line.

What is a linkey machine, and how do i use it?
The linkey machine is an amazing bit of coding provided by blenza.com - it allows me to keep the running lists of who's participating and allows you to check out all the other participants blogs.  To use it, simply add your name in the box that says: "your name" and the URL for your post in the box that says "your URL".

If you don't have a blog or an online hosting account, you do not have to use the linkey machine.  you can let everyone know you're participating by leaving a comment if you like.

What's a URL?
uh - it's a fancy name for web address.  It tells the computer exactly WHERE in the world wide web to go.  For these challenges you need to use the URL that will direct traffice to the exact spot on the world wide web where your submission is posted.  This is the site-specific URL (you can see my half-assed tutorial on how to find that here)

Why do i need to post the Site specific URL? Can't i just post my home page?
Here's the reason that i feel STRONGLY about posting the site specific URL... one - this blog gets a lot of traffic.  People come here several times a week to enjoy other people's work by clicking through the links on the Linkey Machine.  This means that, in turn, THOSE blogs will receive a lot of traffic.  I want to make sure that people are not just posting their websites looking for traffic when they haven't joined the challenge.  That's not fair to those who have joined.  I've been pretty lenient about this in the past, but i'm going to start just deleting those links that direct people to pages that are not challenge related.

Why did my link disappear from the Linkey Machine?
Odds are i deleted it for reasons stated above.  If you think you've been deleted in error, pop me an email and i'll try to see what i can do to fix it. 

Do i comment on the blog before or after i post my entry?
Either or.  As long as you don't post on the linkey machine until you've submitted it doesn't matter to me.  The deal with the comments is that blogger sends me an email letting me know - also, i love comments.

Do you read all the blogs of those who participate?
i really and honestly try to.  I can't comment on every blog - but i do read them. 

Are you writing a book? Can i write your book? Can we co-write your book? Do you want to be in my book? Can i publish your tangles?
out of all the questions - i get asked these or variations of these the very most.
I may someday write a book, if i do - i will do it myself.  Thanks so much for the offer.  I cannot give permission to publish my tangles because i have already said no to a few offers, so now i have to say no to all.  If you're interested in publishing a tile, or a piece i've done, or some other kind of contribution to your project, i would love to hear about it, as long as it's not publishing my tangles. :)

Who are Chewie and Artoo?
Chewie and Artoo are the online nicknames i've given to my two adorable sons.  Chewie is the older one and crazy, Artoo is the younger one and is so mellow and sweet.  I post about them a lot - but the day may come where they ask me to no longer write about them and if that happens, i will respect their wishes.

What is Moebius Syndrome?
My son Artoo has Moebius Syndrome, it's a congenital nerve disorder that mostly affects Cranial Nerves leading to facial paralysis.  It's very rare, about 1-10: 1,000,000 with roughly 5,000 people world wide who have it.  It effects each person differently, but it does not affect intelligence.  Artoo is smart as a whip.

Who is B-rad?
B-rad is not only my bestest friend in the whole wide world of 17 years, but he's my husband of 11 years, the father of my kids, my copy editor and my biggest fan!  (Seriously, he reads each and every one of my challenges and proofs and edits them - without him, i'd sound like a blabbering idiot, most likely.  He also has a big hand in the naming of my challenges... and likes to tell everyone we know about the Weekly Challenges... i like him.)