Bijou Raffle Lesson

I've been posting and posting about this technique I use to come up with unusual ideas, the Bijou Raffle game. I finally couldn't take it any longer, I needed to create a lesson on this fantastic method of allowing the universe to take a more active roll in choosing your next Zentangle projects (you can read an earlier blog post here).


The concept is easy enough to understand: it's nothing but a very large collection of 2x2 inch bijou tiles with tangles, enhancers, art ideas and prompts. Extract a few from the box and let the universe decide what you're going to use for your next Zentangle project.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I could see that this is ANYTHING but simple. Selecting what goes INTO the box in the first place is a matter of understanding the many different ingredients which can produce wonderful art, just like it requires understanding the many spices and herbs that can be added to great cuisine.

In my exploration, I was able to divide the different cards into several categories, which range from Tangle Patterns, Strings, all the way to different types of Art Enhancers, and finally to Art supplies and Techniques.

Understanding this classification alone is a great eye-opener for anyone, but it doesn't stop there. Another wonderful insight I was able to extract is about Art Enhancers. They are not simply generic, they can range from Specific Tangleations that only apply to certain tangles; Tangle Enhancers that can be applied to almost every pattern; Fragment Enhancers that are best applied at the fragment (basic repeating unit) level; and finally, Stroke Enhancers that can be applied at a very basic foundation level of a tangle. Wow!!!!

The lesson is, I grant you, the most theoretical one I have every created. The bulk of it is understanding all these different cards and categories, and that can become a little tedious. I was a little concerned about it — however, I'm convinced that to be a remarkable artist, you must understand SOME LEVEL of art theory! And this way is as easy as it gets!

One of the things I like the most about these bijou cards is that they can be INTERPRETED in different ways. For example, the card “Radial Blossom” is not only an important concept about how to understand Blossom tangles (tangles which stand alone, with high focus power), but it is also the name of one of my lessons which shows how to create your own Blossoms. So this card can be interpreted as: 1) include a blossom in your work anywhere you like; or 2) follow the lesson Radial Blossoms; or 3) create a mini mandala project. It's up to the artist to choose how it will be incorporated into the work!

Since I've been playing with this Bijou Raffle game, I noticed a few trends, and established a set of guidelines on how to play. It's similar to the concept of “Elegance of Limits” advocated by Zentangle founders: there are some basic rules so that you're really allowing chance to offer you some new and interesting opportunities. My own rules are thoroughly explained in the video and the accompanying ebook.

The bijou cards

The lesson comes with 280 printable cards to jumpstart your collection of cards, but I am also a strong advocate of creating your own. I feel that the handmade cards allow you to enter your own style, your own enhancers and your own comments. In the end, the best result comes from a mix of handmade and commercial cards.

Per request, 200 of these cards can be purchased online as a deck. These are gorgeously printed in deck quality card paper, and feel smooth as butter.

To complement the deck — if you really want to — I also recommend Lynn Mead's Tiny Tangle Deck, which has 100 cards containing most of Zentangle founder's patterns. You can get Lynn's deck here. By the way, Lynn gave me her permission to display and show her deck in the lesson.

The lesson has a few case studies and also tactics to help you understand how to start a project. For example, what do you do if you get no string card? The case studies are shown not only in the video but also as very detailed step by step printable PDFs.