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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


  • Tangling is keeping me sane. Many thanks! And please everyone at stay safe !!!!!!

    jan mustain on

  • I’m so grateful that you (and Rick) realized the importance of sharing the Zentangle method! That the joy was in the sharing, and not just keeping something so unique as your own treasure. Thank you!

    Danita Noland on

  • Maria, Your story is an example of courage. Almost nothing in life is given without us investing in it first. You were willing to try something new, untested using the skill you had a hand to move forward. Zentangle has been such a gift to me. I am lucky to have work that satisfies my soul, and I have Zentangle to put the icing on that cake! Kudos and thanks to the both of you:)

    Connie Cole-Ingber on

  • I love the Zentangle methodology and all the great things that go along with it. To me Zentangle gave me something to share with my students (elementary) that was another avenue/opportunity for them to express themselves. Personally, I love to express myself in a variety of artistic ways. That being said, I must admit, I am not an artist. Whether you are an artist or not You can do this! You may be overly critical of your work or it may not be as good as someone else’s that you see but you can still create and get enjoyment from what you have accomplished. Tangle Away!

    Wendy on

  • Maria, your ability to tell a story matches your ability to make create beautiful art. Thanks for this lovey post, and the opportunity to own this wonderful piece. Stay safe.

    Julie Keimig on

  • Your gift is ours, and I thank you both from bottom of my heart for what you have given to the world. So simple, yet so profound!

    Jake on

  • I am moved by your love story both with Rick and you creation. My wish for you is to live in this beautiful glow for eternity!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • I’ve always been an amateur artist for my own pleasure, and a professional graphic artist for 20 years. All my maternal female relatives are teachers of some sort, from Latin to kindergarten and Piano lessons to Librarian, so teaching is in my blood and I can’t wait for the day that I can leave my current tech day job and focus on sharing Zentangle so more people can experience the magical feeling that comes from creating. My favorite t-shirt: I make stuff ‘cause I get sad if I don’t

    LongHairedLoriCZT20 on

  • Zentangle found me during a very chaotic time in my life. I was frazzled emotionally & professionally. Like many who are being pulled in too many directions, my health became problematic. I needed to find a way to quiet my mind each day, to at least try to get some sleep. That is what Zentangle gave to me – peace. A time each day of quiet resolve, with something to focus on other that the chaos around me. I will be forever grateful.

    Germaine LeBourveau on

  • I wonder what I ever did without Zentangle! It has become an integral part of each day. I never tire of working on it. As a matter of fact, I can hardly wait to “get ai it” each day. Thank you for listening and acting on your dreams!


  • Birth stories are always enlightening and intensely personal, as is yours. Gratitude and Appreciation.

    Christine Clark on

  • I love the story of the Birth of Zentangle. I love to share it at my classes. I have even said that it’s the baby you produced together. Thank you for all you do. I hope we can see each other soon to Zenfully Tangle together.

    Malia Benson on

  • I like so many others am definitely keeping calm by tangling. I’ve never been more grateful for this practice and for Rick and Maria for sharing this amazing gift with all of us. My prayer is for the health and safety for my extended Zentangle family and their friends and family as well.

    Jody Genovese on

  • Zentangle found me after a sudden life change with open heart surgery. Got hooked and made it a goal to become a CZT to share with others after knowing what it did for me in a down time in my life. And so glad I took that step once well enough to go to a seminar. I really love sharing and helping spread the Zentangle virus everywhere and if I help just one person it is all worth it. Yes, I am currently socially distancing and staying at home but offering free phone classes to anyone who needs a friendly voice and some time with something to do that might help. Thanks Molly for the voice lessons! Stay safe and healthy everyone.

    Sue Leslie on

  • I know that I am not alone expressing gratitude for Zentangle in these unsettling times. Tangling a tile (or two or more) each day is keeping me sane. Thank you!

    Maureen Stott on

  • How lucky are we that you did! Zentangle has brought a new skill, a calmness to allow focus, and a bunch of new friends to enjoy it with. It spreads gratefulness, leaving beautiful art in its wake!

    Lisa on

  • it is very interesting! to start a new business that you love so much, but are afraid and don’t know what lies ahead. I am very familiar with this. and it’s great that you decide! now we and the whole world know about the Zentangle as a miraculous method from all problems. I am glad that I met the Zentangle in my life and thank you for that 💖💖💖

    ELena on

  • And that’s precisely why I came to Providence and got my certificate…. so that I could pay it forward and teach others what I knew could impact their lives as much as it has for mine. Zentangle will forever be a part of my life… in whatever direction my life takes. SO many thanks to you!

    LovelyRita on

  • I am so grateful that I joined your first CZT training seminar in 2009. When I called to inquire about registering, Maria answered the phone and excitedly told me all about it. I was hooked!

    MImi Lempart on

  • Zentangle connects worldwide. 🌏🌎🌍 Now that we all have to stay at home a lot, I am so happy that I tangle and can inspire others to also take pen and paper to make the days less long. Thank you all 🍀

    Henriëtte Robben on

  • I love how you added the heart on a string to your beautiful tile. It really hit home being stuck at home during this trying time and not being able to see family. Thank goodness I love to zentangle.

    GInny MCGee on

  • A few months I followed a basiccourse and fell in love with zentangle. And now I’m the middle of the coronacrisis it gives me a moment of tranquility. Having a hectic job in healthcare it gives me so much A evening zentangle is a evening without stress en a peaceful mind 💕🌸🙏🏻

    Annelies Knegt on

  • Wow, such a cool tile! I love your stories and am looking forward to PP#9. Have been sending cards with tangled tiles inside to friends during our C-19 house arrest 😊

    Wendy J CZT 20 on

  • Art heals! Gratitude is a cornerstone of Zentangle. For me , that is what makes the method so helpful. Thanks for all you do!

    Sue Swanson on

  • I very recently found Zentangle due to my wonderful sister who gave me a Zentangle class as a birthday present. I love it so much and it’s been such a wonderful thing to do during this difficult time. Thank you for sharing this with us and we are doing our part to pass it on!

    Kathie on

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