The more you dive into the creative experience, the more you’ll be interested in supplies and Zentangle paper tiles are one of the key supplies. 

Only a few years ago I had no clue about all the different kinds of paper. So, what is the best paper for creating art? I’ll just start by saying that here is no easy answer to this question. But I’ll share my experiences with original Zentangle paper tiles and alternative supplies.

I’d like to emphasize that these are only my opinions but your impressions might differ. It’s best to try different options and see what you feel most comfortable with.

When I discovered Zentangle, I didn’t know a thing about the Zentangle tiles. I found the information on Zentangle’s web site. However, being in Europe, the total price of the product (plus shipping, plus customs) was to steep to decide to order them immediately. So before I ordered any tiles, I purchased some quality papers locally and cut my own tiles.

Original Zentangle Paper Tiles

After I was sure that Zentangle was not just another thing that I’ll try and forget about (it didn’t take long for that revelation), I ordered some original Zentangle tiles. I knew exactly why the appreciation for the supplies was among the eight steps of the Zentangle method. Zentangle has chosen the paper suppliers for their tiles very carefully. As a result, you’ll be sure to enjoy a high-quality cotton paper when you buy the original tiles.

Zentangle Tiles

Zentangle tiles come in different shapes and sizes and I recommend you to see the details on their website, where you can also order them.

Even though I’ve learned so much about different kinds of paper and I’ve tried out many of them, the original supplies are still my first choice for tangling. It is almost always my choice for teaching Zentangle classes. The surface is not smooth so you’ll have to slow down when you draw. That enhances the true experience of the Zentangle method. They are great for traditional Zentangle black and white art but they also work really well with watercolor pencils (which I use really often). The white tiles are extremely good in tolerating even more water than what comes out of a water brush. I find that the original tiles are also a good background for pastel pencils (especially the black ones, as you can see in my Glow on Black classes), although for pastel colors I would probably rather use pastel paper. The most challenging ones to use were Renaissance tiles, as their surface is really soft and delicate. Because of that you’ll have to be careful when you apply certain supplies (like chalk pencils) and use the paper stumps for blending. However, in 2021 Zentangle changed the Renaissance paper, so now it’s much easier to work with.

Alternative Options

However, if you live outside the US, it might be costly and complicated (especially in Covid era) to order the original tiles. The prices of shipping are rising like crazy and all countries are trying to protect their producers and suppliers.

Additionally, as you explore some supplies and techniques, you might find that not all of them are compatible with original Zentangle supplies.

Zentangle Paper

I’ll list some other sources that I sometimes use and gladly recommend:

  • Strathmore offers some nice white and toned (tan and grey) paper and they even produce “artists tiles”. Those are slightly bigger than Zentangle’s, which I don’t really like so I always cut them if I use them. The paper is smooth so it’s good for colored pencils. White vellum surface might be the best choice for that particular purpose.
  • I often prefer darker versions of tan and grey paper. I love Clairefontaine’s paper. Paint On paper has some tooth, so it’s quite good for pastel pencils, too. You might have noticed some of my drawings on shiny copper paper – that’s also by Clairefontaine. Another one that I enjoy is Toned paper by Royal Talens, I’ve also had very good experiences with the German producer Folia. Their kraft paper is really cool but I’ve also purchased their card stock in different colors and made some colored paper tiles.
  • For some special supplies you’ll need special papers. When I use alcohol markers (Copic), I prefer using Marabu’s Mixed Media paper. For more traditional aquarelle work, you’ll need some watercolor paper (I love Arches and Strathmore).

If you decide to try different brands and types of paper, I’d recommend always choosing thicker paper – 250 gsm or more. Different supplies are a joy to explore!

February, 2021

Written by Anica Gabrovec CZT

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