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A Zentangle Origin Story

A Zentangle Origin Story

Some of you may know the story of how Zentangle got started.  (Or, not!)  But today I would like to tell you a few things that perhaps you didn’t know. 

When Zentangle presented itself to us, Rick and I had  been together for about a year or so. We were excited about everything in our lives. (We still are!) We loved our work, our family, our home, our town, our friends.  Each day brought more for us to be grateful for. 

Then, it happened. We were gifted this new “thing” in our life, not sure what to make of it . . . but, for sure, we both knew it was important and could not be ignored.

I absolutely loved my work as a full-time calligrapher. I was creating beautiful things and making people happy. It was always a labor of love. And with Rick now working with me in my stationery company, life was great.

So, why was I questioning my life all of a sudden? When Zentangle presented itself to me and Rick, we both knew right away it was important. How could I say I was grateful for this amazing life and not do anything about it. Maybe Zentangle was shown to us as a way for me (and Rick) to show how grateful we were.  The instant we realized there was nothing stopping us from dedicating our lives to this, we quit our day jobs and only looked ahead with no hesitation. 

What was missing in my life was to do something important, something essential, to find some way to give back.  Even more than that (can there even be more?) we get to give others this gift of giving this Zentangle gift as well. Each time a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) teaches a class; each time a Zentangle enthusiast shares with a friend how the Zentangle Method works, you get the same you that we get.

And I think that's something important.

And that’s it. That’s all I wanted to share with you today.  It came to me in my dreams, and I could not not listen.

We’d love to give this tile away, I did it while I was thinking how to write this story.
Raised gold leaf, ink, gelly, and

Leave your thoughts below and we will choose a name at random from the commenters on this blog.


Maria Thomas


  • Your enthusiasm, your joy, your love always get into my heart, I hope I can pass it on to my students just as well. Thank you so much!

    Laura on

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your talent and giftedness touches me daily.

    Linda M Dochter CZT 16 on

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your talent and giftedness touches me daily.

    Linda M Dochter, CZT 16 on

  • Oh how I love being a part of the Zentangle family. It will be 10 years this coming spring and now I have my sister joining in as another CZT – my family within my family.

    Jane MacKugler on

  • What a wonderful gift Zentangles has been during this time when we all had to slow down whether we wanted to or not. Thank you for sharing it.

    Francene l. Smith on

  • God bless Grace Zarou. Her story above touched me so. Thank you, Grace!❤️

    And I’m thankful for Maria’s and Rick’s inspirations to take time to feel peace and acceptance thru tangling. I feel more”ok” with myself when I’m drawing with them.

    Betsy Gambaccini on

  • God bless Grace Zarou. Her story above touched me so. Thank you, Grace!❤️

    And I’m thankful for Maria’s and Rick’s inspirations to take time to feel peace and acceptance thru tangling. I feel more”ok” with myself when I’m drawing with them.

    Betsy Gambaccini on

  • My belief is that dreams do not only come from inside our minds. I believe that they can be gifts from a higher power that we are all connected to. I am grateful that you accepted your gift and have literally made it a reality that has changed lives for the better!

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT on

  • I have wanted to try Zentangle for years, unfortunately life changing events got in my way. Now that the Dr feels I have the Covid 19; I am an RN doing triage in a Gastroenterology office. I am having to stay at home, no work, no pay, no going outside. I am grateful I have not had to be hospitalized; I consider myself more fortunate than some. I have spent the last 2 days mesmerized with your videos along w/ Molly and your granddaughters. I am going to order the kit and make my time have some meaning and enjoy a new craft. God Bless you both and your families. Stay safe. Gayle RN

    Gayle Lazarus on

  • It really is a great gift getting to learn to zentangle. It is so easy to do, just concentrate, making one step after the other. It makes you forget time and sorrow and fills with gratitude for what is. Even my daughter and granddaughter enjoy the act of zentangling. So thank you so much, Maria, Rick and all of the zentangle family.

    This is a message from Breda, the Netherlands

    Eefke on

  • Gratitude and grace in every single act, word spoken and written, topped with care and compassion in every product you share. The lives that each of you touch ripple outward and mirror the gift of you! Thank you for listening to your dreams!

    Promise Smithson CZT 11 & 20 on

  • I love that you each knew that you could not ignore the feelings. That’s when you know it is meant to be…and as it turns out so far, it has been a blessing that gives to each Zentangle student, every time. You have a Noble Purpose as a business and you guys are a great team. You share your talents, your time and your love for the art of Zentangle from the heart and that’s why the followers can’t resist it. You change lives and then we change lives and so on and so on…a truly great movement. Thank you both so very much.

    Carole Lape on

  • I am so very glad that y’all listened to your angels!

    Beth Peters CZT24 on

  • I think now in this time Zentangle teaches us about loving kindness and that we are all one world. Spring and new growth is here and we are adjusting to the "new normal " but there is so much to be thankful for. We have the internet to connect and to teach us and we have to realize that this will not be forever. Its just a bump in the road. We all need to count on what we have as to what we do not have and be grateful.


  • Sometimes in our lives something we could never have imagined happens, which leads us to take an unknown path which then leads us to something wonderful. Some call it blind faith. The birth of Zentangle sounds like something of this nature, but the impact it has had on so many lives worldwide is miraculous. Thank you so much for taking that step down the unknown path and then sharing with us, enabling us to find the artist within us.


  • I just found out about your Zentangle website about 1 week ago thru my Buffalo Art Guild. It is so relaxing and rewarding. I enjoy reading your posts and learning more and more. Happy Creating!

    Linda Prozinski on

  • Thank you Rick & Maria for always giving us such beautiful & comforting words at times when we most need them. I appreciate the support & continuing education you give us CZT’s. I have proudly been a part of the Zentangle family & community since June 2013.

    Teresa Ann Earnhardt on

  • What Zentangle has given me could be a lengthy discourse. I have filled my journals with thoughts about this. But rather than waxing on and on, I will distill what I have received. Doing Zentangle has given me confidence that I can be an artist and trust in myself to appreciate what ever comes out, without judgements about mistakes or “doing it right”. My attitude is that I get out and try it. Sometimes it looks great and other times I am just stretching my soul.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • When Love is the dynamic force, our works and our lives seem to unfold easily. I am so glad you listened to your heart, Art has been a part of my life since I was 3 or so, I am 76 now, My drawing hand is compromised by a severe case of arthritis, and It has limited my drawing ability, but every day I try and too am grateful for what I can do. It affects all aspects of my life. I am now training my left hand to do so much more. I am extremely grateful for the progress I am making.

    Maxine Erickson on

  • It’s like a gift that keeps giving, for you, for those you certified to teach, and for those CZTs who teach it. The gift keeps giving.

    Deborah Butterfield on

  • In 2012, I was suffering with a very strange and debilitating illness. One day I was celebrating my marriage to my childhood sweetheart, mothering my 2 young boys, teaching aerobics, playing the piano and running my own business. The next, I was struck down with a high fever, debilitating fatigue, and a high fever. Fear set in as I watched my head and face blow up like a pumpkin, my body became an omp-lompa, and worst of all i thought I was dying as excruciating pain wrackes my brain. My poor new husband! After 5 months, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease that had gone to my brain. 5 years of treatment brought some recovery, but my life was completely different and I was left with memory loss and cognitive disfunction. A friend referred my to a gal from Texas suffering from Lyme as well. This gal from Texas is Certified and thought I would love Zentangle. She sent me the green box with tiles and pens and paper and a book, and IT CHANGED MY LIFE! It relieved my anxiety, helped my memory, and gave me a renewed purpose in life! Even though we haven’t met, this gal from Texas has become my best friend and I honor her and Rick and Maria for putting me on a new chartered life!
    It is fitting that my new last name starts with Z! Thank you Rick and Maria!

    Grace Zarou on

  • Beautiful tile- beautiful people. With gratitude that your dream has become a shared dream of peace and beauty.

    CRis Letourneau on

  • Sharing you passion is contagious!! Thank you! I love it!!

    Jeanne on

  • Since this “new world” began I’ve been choosing a friend or two each day to make a Zentangle for. I often use their initial as my thread,(much like your “Z” in this piece). As I learn a new tangle and use old ones too, I think nice things about them, pray for them as well, I attach to a card, write a note explaining my method and well wishes, and mail away. It’s a wonderful part of my day; one way to extend a bit of joy. I’ve been receiving nice feedback—so it’s turned out to be a gift to myself too.

    Julie Pink on

  • Zentangle is exactly the “craft” I was looking for — upscale doodle yet so much more. I’ve been doing a version of zentangle since I was young, but never to the extent that you have shown me it can be. I love seeing Maria’s work as it’s always so much more involved than I think of and is always an inspiration to me.

    Marilyn Miller on

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