Note: The links I have shared for the products blogged about here are a combination of regular and Amazon affiliate links.
Many of you know that I have been struggling with a bad neck since earlier this year. And while I am well on my way to recovery, having pursued a variety of medical, therapeutic and holistic treatments and remedies, I am well aware that if I wish to tangle for decades to come, I need to adapt and listen to my body. I tried several solutions, but I will spare you all that and will just skip to the solution that has taken me back to my happy Zen place. I love it!
I am now tangling on a Daler-Rowney ArtSphere Easel. At the time of this writing they are unavailable on Amazon, (but check the link in this sentence – maybe they are back). If you click on either of the links above, you will see its from the manufacturer’s photos, that it is fully repositionable, and has good sized work surface. (16.5 x11.8 inches) They are also quite durable and heavy enough not to slide all over the place. (although see below for better table gripping suggestions). I have topped mine with a 12×18 Rotary Mat, which creates a perfect tangling surface with just the right amount of give. Masking tape works great to attach it so its easy to remove to clean your mat.
Below you will find a video on Vimeo that shows you how I used a Pocket Color Wheel to create an ultra-slim Lazy Susan, that I have taped on to the mat with repositionable double sided sticky tape The tile stays put AND you can turn it for that true Zentangle experience. In order to make sure your tile is at eye level (critical for your neck), I also recommend a monitor stand like this one to raise the easel up to the ideal height, although a pile of oversized books works too if you can keep them from slipping.
I forgot to mention it in the video, but another problem I had to solve was that when you lean into it to tangle, the easel and stand wanted to slide away. I fixed this issue by adding non-slip furniture pads to the bottom of both the easel base and the feet of the monitor stand. Hot glue did the job quite well. Now I can tangle away and lean on the easel as much as I want and it doesn’t go anywhere!!! Another thing I forgot to mention in the video is that the easel comes with little feet that you can put on the easel to hold a canvas. As you can see, I do not use those. The tape holds the tile down, and the feet would just get in the way of my wrists.
It took about a week to get used to it, but I love it so much now and will never go back to tangling flat. That said, you can easily adjust the easel to a more upright position if you working with something more messy like watercolors or PanPastels. Bottom LIne: I absolutely LOVE it and can hold my head up high to know that I am doing the best for my soul and my one and only neck, by tangling on this.
Demonstration of the Daler-Rowney Easel with a Color Wheel Lazy Susan
Another option, if you want a LOT more tangle space and want to be able to rest your entire forearms on the table, is a drafting table. I got one of those too. After much research I chose this Studio Designs Solano Glass Drafting Table. I actually bought mine from Walmart online as I wanted to be able to return it locally if I didn’t like it and not have to pay return shipping. I think it was a bit cheaper there too. It was pretty easy to put together except for a couple times the screw holes didn’t line up well. There is a YouTube Video on how to put it together. Have an awl handy to open up the holes a bit. I covered it with a rotary mat too but that is an expensive solution that may not be for you.
I like this table over all the others I looked at, because this was the only one I could find that would adjust from horizontal all the way to 90 degrees and also up and down. This will be a great option for me for teaching and for when I want to do bigger art, like watercolor paintings etc. I got a drafting table chair so I can sit when its at its highest horizontal position but my regular office chair is great at a steep angle.
Video Demonstration of the Studio Designs Solano Drafting Table