Soft Expressions Newsletter
June 2012

Newsletter Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
Owner of Soft Expressions, Expressive Quilter, Artist

& Certified Zentangle Teacher

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Note from Sharla

Expressive Quilters

Local News in Anaheim CA

Jenny Haskins & Laurel Burch

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Local News at Soft Expressions in Anaheim, CA:
NEW Upstairs Quilt Gallery Exhibit:
Discovery by Quilts on the Wall members
May-June 2012

Interest List News
Notes from the Editor: Sharla Hicks, Owner & Webmaster at Soft Expressions

Featured Product Line
Crafter's Workshop Stencils
Picture below
NEW 2012 stencils include:
Julie Fei-Fan Belzer
Dylusions Stencils
by Ranger Signature Designer
Dyan Reaveley New Fall 2011 CLICK to Enlarge

ALL Crafter's Workshop Stencils
10% off Coupon*
Coupon code: CW10
Expires June 24, 2012
1 per customer
*Coupon code required at Checkout
or mention on Call-in orders

Featured Artist
Crafter's Workshop Stencil Designer
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
julie balzer

Table of Contents CLICK to Enlarge

Zentangle Class 1 Examples
CLICK to Enlarge

Basics (classes 1 & 2)
Beyond Basics (3-4)
Zentangle Inspired Art in Color (5-8)

Create Mixed Media Retreats in Chicago & New Jersey
For More Info: CLICK HERE

REMEMBER! You can buy many of the supplies needed for the Create Mixed Media Retreats from us at 10 to 40% off

CREATE California
Irvine, CA

CREATE New Jersey
Somerset, NJ

CREATE Chicago
Lisle, IL

Creativity & the Frustration of the Process
by Sharla Hicks ©2012

In our last Soft Expressions newsletter several months ago I explored the idea of pursuing art daily. Recently I found a video that I felt was important to share with others who also pursue creative endeavors and to again reiterate about the importance of creating art daily, even if it is only 10 minutes of mindful pursuit.

The importance of Frustration in the Creative Process is animated in a short, sweet and to the point video! Well worth every viewing moment. (3 1/2 minutes) . Maria Popova of writes and I paraphrase: "The video is a teaser for Jonah Lehrer's book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, a "seething cauldron of ideas." The animator, Flash Rosenberg---Guggenheim Fellow, NYPL artist-in-Residence, live-illustrator extraordinaire, distills one of Lehrer's key ideas in simple yet visually eloquent line drawings."

Our choices of creativity are varied and all inclusive up to and including the pursuit of our daily lives. Who will benefit from viewing the short and well done video?

  • The Expressive Quilter and Fiber Artist looking for the next great quilt or art piece to flow from the minds eye out to the fabric
  • The Zentangle Artist pursuing the perfect line and the next break through in pursuit of the perfect Zentangle Inspired Art piece.
  • The Art Journalist pursing the goal of doing art daily even if it is only 10 minutes in pursuit of the completed journal and inspiration for the next exciting piece of art that is begging to be created..
  • The Scrapbooker looking to capture the perfect collage to express the emotion they feel about the wonders exhibited in the showcased photos.
  • The act of cooking a unique meal with the perfected savor to enhance the menu to be lovely savored alone, served to family, friends, visitors, or special occasions.
  • The act of being human and figuring out how we fit into the larger scheme (okay I am getting deep here aren't I)

Bottom line, we are looking for the ah ha moment, but little is spoken about the process that PROCEEDS the ah haaaa!

The concept, importance of Frustration in the Creative Process, illustrated in the video have been essential in my artistic endeavors, my work as teacher looking for the best way to be supportive of my students, my activities as a the owner and webmaster of Soft Expressions. I often experience the frustration before the flow / zone / meditative state (whatever term you are comfortable using) I find the frustration and obstacles quite profound as it produces the greatest break through moments. There is nothing quite like the Ah Ha distillation after the frustration of the journey.....

In my current artistic pursuit of Zentangle, I work at it almost every day and often ponder on a solution to an artistic idea percolating and I recently experienced one of those AH HAs. Here is how it went:

  • I experienced a percolation period
  • I practiced
  • I struggled
  • I studied
  • I day dreamed
  • I slept and dreamed
  • I reminded myself that Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time™, the Zentangle Mantra <<<<<<
  • One day, AFTER many previous attempts, I pick up the pen and the FLOW poured out of my soul through my fingers, into the pen; petals and forms began dancing across the page.
  • I had a profound Zentangle Inspired Art moment an --- —ahhhh haaa— and I have been sharing with anyone who would listen. View the Black Spider Mum to the left <<<< It is part of my Fantasy Flower Series taught in my Zentangle Class 4 and is the my latest example of the flow AFTER the frustration and struggle.
  • I look forward to many more frustrating moments to find the flow!
Frustration is often seen as THE barrier and produces stop motion forward because opening oneself up to new experiences can be daunting, I hope after viewing the video it may help you reframe and under stand, frustration is the planted seed waiting to burst through soil and bloom.

Often when I talk to customers about the Zentangle they state, I can't do that, I can only draw stick figures. <<<<< BUT have you wanted to draw? If your answer in any form is yes, Zentangle will put you on a new path and creative endeavor. because it is a one stroke at time process that uses, GUESS WHAT, stick figure dashes, dots, lines, triangles, circles, squares. Are you looking for your NEXT break through? Yes, then join me in what may be a little frustrating at in the beginning but with just a little practice and some really good instruction from a CZT instructor (me) you will begin exploring the rewarding pursuit of drawing a better stick figure.

Thanks for reading and letting me share the joy of my latest Zentangle AH HA after the frustration of the pursuit!

OPEN in NEW Window
Go to Image: How Creativity Works Video

IMAGINE: How Creativity Works from Flash Rosenberg on Vimeo.
Flash Rosenberg imagines how the ideas in IMAGINE are tackled, tickled and teased-out by the author Jonah Lehrer.
Direction and live-drawing by Flash Rosenberg— video edit by Lin Sorensen— narration: Jonah Lehrer—Book: IMAGINE: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer— published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt— animation © Flash Rosenberg 2012—

Till next time!

Sharla R. Hicks, Owner

Certified Zentangle Teacher

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Interest List News
Expressive Quilters News

julie balzer

Copyright 2006-2012 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. All rights reserved.


Newsletter Article by Noelle Halliday

Who is Noelle? Noel is my new go to lady in the store and also helps me on my website. She has worked in the craft industry for many years. Thanks to having a art teacher for a mother she as pursued arts and crafts her whole life. She is young and sassy and bring a youthful outlook to our neck of the woods. Our goal between the two of us, is more frequent newsletter (1 or 2 times a year is not enough), more tutorials and meaty fun stuff.

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
Featured Crafter's Workshop designer

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer is a graphic designer based in New York City, and she has created many wonderful stencil designs in conjunction with The Crafter's Workshop.

She is famous in the scrapbooking, art journaling and quilt world and has been published in Cloth, Paper, Scissors, Quilt Scene, and Scrapbook Trends.

Her ideas can be translated into Zentangles and art quilts to add interest and adornment.

FREE Stencil 101 Class Review by Noelle Halliday (employee and craft lover at Soft Expressions)

Julie is currently offering a FREE stencil class through her website. I personally took the class and it was time well spent. I am a seasoned crafter, I knit, crochet, draw, and paint, yet I have never really used stencils, save for the elementary school art classes where we folded a piece of paper in half and made our own stencils. I am truly surprised at how many crafters are unaware of stencils and their creative possibilities. I love working with different mediums and tools (the more the better!), Julie's class provided me with many different ideas and projects which I can take and mold to my specific needs.

The class consists of eight videos along with wonderful pictures of the final projects. She starts, rightly so, with the basics, describing stencils vs. masking, and so forth. She covers all aspects of stenciling, from cleaning, to wet vs. dry techniques, repetitive patterning, and more. The class also demonstrates three different projects for the avid crafter.

Julie has a wonderful personality and that really shows through the videos. She is easy to listen to and her projects are clear and understandable. She has a wealth of knowledge and passion for art which left me feeling inspired, looking forward to my next project. Everyone will leave the class with tons of tips and tricks.

To take the class, contact her at, state your name in the email and tell her that you want to take the "Stencil 101 Class." She got back to me within a day. She will provide you with a username and password which are required to access the class. Once inside the class, each video is password protected, the correct password is provided above the video. *For those of you with slow Internet browsers* I suggest turning off the HD option.

Included at the end of the class page is an extensive Q&A where Julie answers every question you might have had during the course of the eight videos.

At Soft Expressions we carry many of the tools
needed to create a Julie Fei-Fan Balzer inspired project
for the FREE Stencils 101 Workshop:

VersaCraft10% off VersaCraft Ink Stamp Pads
25 colors for fabric, paper and more!
1"x1" Square or 3"x4" Rectangular

All-Purpose Inks10 to 20% off Tsukineko Inks

Adirondack Alcohol InkAdirondack Alcohol Ink applicatorsAdirondack Alcohol Ink ApplicatorsAdirondack Alcohol Ink Pen
10% off Tim Holtz's Adirondack Alcohol Inks & Accessories
by Ranger Industries

Crafter's Workshop Stencils
Julie Fei-Fan Design Crafter's Workshop StencilsNew Fall 2011

Julie's blog is a wonderful essential for every crafter.

She frequently uploads clear and creative ideas with beautiful pictures and easy-to-follow tutorial videos. Her blog offers Stencil Hops (where one stencil "hops" between several graphic artists and crafters to explore different designs and projects) and Challenges for her blog readers. Julie's blog is easy to navigate and offers a biography page, a Frequently Asked Questions page, and a class list. This blog is a really good resource whether you are a new crafter or a seasoned professional.

TCW223 Fragmented Flower
Julies Bag Example using stencils
CLICK to Enlarge

Copyright 2006-2012 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. All rights reserved.

TCW222 Triangle Mosaic & TCW261
Art Is
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer scrapbook Design using stencils
CLICK to Enlarge
Copyright 2006-2012 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. All rights reserved.
TCW 278 Circle Explosion & TCW 287 Burst

julie fei-fan balzer art journal layout
CLICK to Enlarge
Copyright 2006-2012 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. All rights reserved.
Wonky Circles
TCW220 Wonky Circles & TCW 228 Herringbone

julie fei-fan balzer art collage using stencils
CLICK to Enlarge

Copyright 2006-2012 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. All rights reserved.

Crafter's Workshop Featuring Julie FBI Fan Balzer
Watercolor Crayons

CLICK HERE for Crafters Workshop Template Available here at Soft Expressions

CLICK HERE for MORE Videos on using Crafter's Workshop Stencils

CLEARANCE: Mixed Media Paint Sticks & Fabric Pens

NOTE: Selling out quickly!

Limited to Stock on Hand

Limited Stock

professional stik

20% off Shiva FULL-SIZED Iridescent & Matte Paintstiks
Simply Spray
Limited Stock
SALE 50% off

Simply Spray and Stencil Spray

fabric paint in aerosol can for air brush & silk screen look

Fabric Pens:

Limited to Stock on Hand

Limited Stock
T juice markers
40% off

Jacquard Tee Juice Fabric Pens
Fineliner, Medium & Broad Tips
Copic Pens
40% off
ALMOST GONE Copic Individual Pens & Nib Accessories

Interest List News
Jenny Haskins Fans

Interest List News
Laurel Burch Gifts

Interest List News
 Local News in Anaheim California Store

CLICK HERE to sign up online and view MORE EXAMPLES

Turn Stick Figures into abstract art.
(See below examples)

Zentangle® and Learn
Anything is Possible. . . One stroke at a time™
Being an Artist is NOT required & Artists are welcome!

Interested in:
Home Party
Private Class for Friendship Group
Children Birthday party or even your own
Guild Lecture and Program
Call Sharla (714-630-7414 )

Teens and Tweens love Zentangle
Kids from 5+ are enjoying themselves
and are very proud of their drawings.

 CLICK HERE to sign up online and view MORE EXAMPLES

Turn Stick Figures into Zentangles

Zentangle Tile Copyright 2011
Class 1
Start With Your Stick Figure's
Simple Lines, Curves, Circles & Dots

Zentangle Tile Copyright 2011
Take the Simple (see above example)
Add Perfs, Dots,
Shading, Weighted Line, Striping
Really, it is that easy!

CLICK HERE to sign up online and view MORE EXAMPLES

Map to Soft Expressions
Soft Expression in Anaheim, CA

For Additional Information
Call 714-630-7414

Beyond the Basics: Classes 3 & 4
Class 3 and 4 exampels



Color, Zentangle and Decorative Letters & Landscapes
Color and Zentangle Class Example of Illuminated Lettering
CLICK to Enlarge


Color and Zentangle Inspired Art
Monoprint, Bookmarks, Cards and More
Zentangle Inspired Art using the Monoprint
NOTE: See Larger Versions below

Available at Soft Expressions


Till next time!


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Sharla R. Hicks, Owner
Soft Expressions
Supporting the Expressive Quilter in Tradition, Innovation, Art, & Computer Quilting
10-20% off Books, Paints, Pens, Dyes, Quilt Software, Fabric Printing, Paper Piecing, + Reviews & How-to's
Toll Free in USA and Canada: 888-545-8616 -- Phone: 714-630-7414 -- Fax: 714-630-8970

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