Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
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


  • Perhaps what I love most about the gift you created is that it is always there for me to turn to when I need it. My time has turned to other pursuits over the last few years, but the health of the world, the nation, my community, and myself have led me back to the focus and inner strength I get from the Zentangle method. Whether following along with a project pack, doing Molly’s wonderful voice-guided youtube videos, or my own unique creations, I find my way to the peace that lives in my heart. Lorna Aaronson, April 1, 2020.

    Lorna Aaronson on

  • So few of us can look back at our past and find such a wonderful change in direction as you and Rick did. Those of us who see Zentangle as a real part of our lives are grateful every day that the two of you met and together created a simple and joyous art form. It has spread worldwide and has given my husband, Carey, and I still another “practice” to share. We are so very grateful to you two (and Molly and Martha of course!)

    Lise Orwig on

  • Such a heartfelt and incredible story. Thank you for everything!

    Nancy D., CZT18 on

  • I am so happy you answered the call to create Zentangle. It has been a blessing in my life now for ten years. I am compelled to share this wonderful art with the world on my youtube channel. I give thanks every day for you and rick and my call to become a CZT. Way back in the beginning.

    Melinda Barlow on

  • I’m so grateful to have been shown the Zentangle method of drawing – it unlocked an ability to see & deconstruct & draw patterns in a structured manner. It’s given me a freedom within the limits of structure that allows me to be creative. Thank you so much & for these posts during this surreal time.

    Evy Browning on

  • Zentangle came into my life accidently through Melinda Barlow through YouTube 2018. I fell in love with it, as I live drawing and mostly making art with colors. But zentangle was a free work and a way of travelling away. Summer days at home or winter nights were so different with zentangle. Thank you.

    Mariam Kaada on

  • For me, Zentangle was love at first sight. I was the first CZT in Spain, and I had to start from zero. It’s was not easy, but it was absolutely worth it.

    Now there are 20 CZT of us, and I’m sure this will grow quickly.
    Thanks for sharing this treasure with the world , R&M and M&M
    On these difficult moments for the whole planet, it’s wonderful to have our own peaceful island: Zentangle.

    María Tovar on

  • Grateful! for so much and for so many! Including you-You, meaning the entire Zentangle You-niverse! I would like to think of Zentangle as your BABY! Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to have a human

    baby, but you’ve given birth to a whole new world of creativity for the entire planet! That’s quite a BABY!

    Roberta Strickland on

  • When I tell my classes about how marvelous the creation of Zentangle was, I often tell them that Mozart thought that he was given the music he wrote from A higher power. He could not, not write it. And – similarly, you were given Zentangle to give to all of us. We are grateful.

    The gifts from Zentangle are on many levels: beautiful art, zen flow mindfulness, and ultimately, life changes as we absorb statements like, “ There are no mistakes”

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts with us, Maria. What I read here was that when the ideas for Zentangle began to flow toward and through you and Rick, you both intuited that this new venture, while thrilling and important, was going to push you both way out of your comfort zones. And, boy did it! And this momentum continues to move many others out of their comfort zones as well—to grow and develop the seeds of creativity that all people have. I was speaking yesterday with my friend—a fellow tangler—about how blessed we both feel to have been introduced to the Zentangle ideas and methodology. We both feel it is a daily gift to us, but especially in this time of increased sadness, loss, grief, and turmoil in the world. We are able to consciously step out of fear, if even for an hour or two, to do private meditation in the form of drawing lines on paper. I feel that this is no less than a healing art. Thank you both, along with your family and friends who have made choices to join in this healing ministry, step out of their boxes as well, to gift the world with Zentangle!

    Paula Schneider on

  • We are all so grateful that you and Rick found a way to share Zentangle with each of us. Thank you.

    Sherri Lee on

  • I just want to say that once I found Zentangle, I never looked for anything else to be my passion. It fulfills me, grows with me and inspires me. There is nothing more satisfying for me than teaching others the Zentangle method and seeing them enjoying the process. Thank you Maria and Rick for your life-changing gift!

    Jodi Ballenger on

  • I never tire of hearing (or reading) the origin stories of where Zentangle came from. These stories, along with the stories of how many of the tangles were first deconstructed and named are now a part of our shared history. Thank you for sharing your stories!

    Jeanie "JJ" James CZT25 on

  • I’m grateful for the two of you Maria and Rick and Martha, Molly, Julie and your whole crew! Without you and your amazing Zentangle, I wouldn’t be so calm and grateful in these uncertain times of the Corona virus pandemic. Tomorrow is my oldest child, my beautiful daughter, Melissa’s 6th anniversary of her death. I didn’t have Zentangle then, but I knew I wanted to do something to give back to the people I knew in my synagogue, friends and family for all the wonderful support I got from them all while going through that dark period of my life. At the time, I didn’t know what or how I was going to accomplish that. Then after I became a CZT it hit me that I can make tangled dragonflies with a homemade cards and send it out to those who have lost loved ones. This has helped me heal while helping others to heal. I have touched many hearts, which is what I wanted to do! I just wanted to thank you all for giving me this gift so that I may help others feel loved and supported during their very dark period too!

    Leslee Feiwus on

  • Helping others is what life is all about in my view. Your gift has helped countless others to appreciate their own gifts.Thank you and may you be blessed.

    Barbara Hibner on

  • I love this story. Maria. From a CZT’s standpoint I love to see one of my students look at the tile they have done and say “I did this!”. I hope you and Rick look at all of us and say to yourselves “I did this!” because you did. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a wonderful lifetime gift!

    Terri Young, CZT 16 on

  • Many Thanks Maria, inspiring us appreciating and sharing our Zentangle experiences, and you and Rick made it happen – Thank you again for sharing and caring.

    Alice on

  • What a wonderful story. I am still grateful for Zentangle every day. As a CZT I consider myself privileged to teach it to others as well

    Bette Abdu on

  • I am “tangling” every day and now wondering what to do with my lovely tiles. I love your origins story —sort of like looking back at the “ancestry” is f Zentangle. I bet there are other stories, too!


    Ceecileberesford, csj on

  • Maria, your story warms my heart. It’s such a beautiful story and such a wonderful mission. I shared with many friends the enjoyment that comes from Zentangling. This tile shows your happiness as well as your dedication. Thank you so much for bringing this into my life.

    Marcia Fasy on

  • The number of people you have influenced is amazing. The zentangle community is really pulling together during this crisis. Zentangle is keeping many, many people sane

    Victoria McMillen on

  • I’ve always found your tangles inspirational and motivational. They get my juices to tangle more, especially when I’m in a rut.

    Lynette on

  • and we are all very grateful that you decided to make the Zentangle method available to us

    Deb Prewitt on

  • Sharing this art form is such a gift you have given to thousands of us. Thank you for sharing how it all began!

    Carol McKenzie on

Leave a comment