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But, What Do You Do With Your Tiles?

But, What Do You Do With Your Tiles?

From 2019...

Maria and I just received this letter:

Dear Rick and Maria,

Some time ago my husband and I went on a motorbike weekend with a group of 20 friends. My husband loves to ride his motorbike and it always warms my heart to see the smile on his face when he rides his horse of steel. I recognize his smile because it is the same smile I have on my face whenever I tangle. I cannot help it, even when I slightly think about Zentangle the smile appears.

So, there we were in beautiful France, being blessed with some free time among friends. They drove off, on a daily basis, while I stayed at the base camp filling my days with long walks, and mostly tangling. For hours and hours and hours . . .

This caught the eye of one of the other bikers — a woman who was obviously going through some stuff at that time. She walked up to me and, a little bit annoyed, asked, “What is this thing you are always doing and why do you have this grin on your face while doing it?” As I tried to explain what Zentangle is and offered to teach her, she interrupted and asked, “But, what do you do with them afterwards?”

I thought about it for a second and replied: “I just keep them.” And then I asked, “What do you do with the result of your bike tour after a drive of 250 kms? Isn’t it all about the journey?”

She looked at me and said, “You are so weird!”

I replied with a kind smile, “Yes, you are probably right. And I am also happy.

It truly made me realize, as I had been there, that the teacher can indeed only appear when the student is ready. I also felt beyond compare grateful and blessed for Zentangle art because it has changed my life in such a tremendous positive way that I cannot even begin to explain it. It brought me so many things, but above all, it brings me happiness, day after day after day.

Now to me that seems like the best gift anybody can give you.

So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the gift of Zentangle.

Love and blessings to all of you.
K, Belgium

To which I replied,

Thank you so much for that story!

"Coincidentally," Maria and I were talking with friends on Saturday, when you emailed about this very topic.

Imagine how wonderful it would be for some future generation to discover your treasured collection of Zentangle tiles; how they would carefully appreciate each one.

Best regards from one who is often also called "weird",



On our recent trip to Germany, CZT Ela Rieger shared with us her album of over 1,000 tiles!


And here are some examples of where we have tiles up around our house . . .



In the past, we have written a few blogs about this topic as well:

Stuck Up from August 2014 and A New Frame of Mind from July 2018.

So, what do YOU do with your tiles?


Rick Roberts


  • Thank you for sharing this story!
    This is one of my least favourite questions… I can understand why people ask it, but it is so hard to explain. Especially to those who doesn’t want to understand like the lady in this story.
    But at the same time what a great allegory with a journey! That it so true!

    Yulia Folkman on

  • I keep them in albums, in lists, on the table, and they are scattered throughout the house. The nicest thing is my decoration mobile with pegs that is full with tiles of different sizes. It now hangs in my studio but sometimes also in the guest room. Super fun to watch.

    Henriette Robben on

  • I love reading everyone’s comments above and I love this question, because what we do with our tiles is a continuation of the Zentangle method. All this gratitude and appreciation goes on and on with endless possibilities along with the dots, border, the string, where do I go from here, a question that never ends and that’s an example of Infinite possibilites! Sharing is such a big part of Zentangle. Isn’t it great! Thanks all for your contributions! I keep mine in my heart always and I see them kept in a binder, on my walls stuck in spots where I just leave them, give them away when I frequently stay at airbnb’s, in books, it’s really endless. So many things come and go but Zentangle doesn’t ever seem to grow old.

    christine maskaly on

  • I make cards, frame some and hang, give them away and some are just laying around!!

    Wendy CZT 20 on

  • I have two shelves full of cookery books in my kitchen. I use my finished tiles to bookmark all the recipes I actually used and weren’t a disaster so that I can find them again easily. When I use a recipe I put the cookery book in a clear acrylic bookstand beside the cooker and display the tangled tile in the stand too. I don’t put the book away until I need another book and so the tile is displayed for a few days at a time and I can enjoy the serendipity of which one is being displayed.

    Yorkshire Tortoise on

  • Tangling at the hospital while my brother was in chemo, I met a woman who had traveled out of state for her treatment. The machine was broken and she had to leave. Watching me tangle she was so enthralled at my creations that I gave her one I had just finished and told her about the Zentangle method. She said “I can keep it? The trip wasn’t wasted!” Blessings return over and over! Thank you.

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • I am a trust-the-process person when it comes to tangling so I don’t think about the tiles once I’m done.

    Jessica on

  • I have most of mine in big binders that hold 6 per side, and still have about 900 but have given away at least 500 to friends in cards, or Christmas card fronts, or left for others to find. I have given them to the many, many nurses of the specialists I see (they fight over them and are so disappointed if I forget them!), and students I’ve taught. As to Michele’s question about why we have to “do something “… they can’t just disappear into thin air, they have to be somewhere! Hope they aren’t being tossed.

    I love Zentangle and its Mom and Dad and everyone at ZHQ and all my fellow CZTs!

    Kat van Rooyen on

  • I usually keep it simple and display them around my apartment. I also love to leave tiles in random places. I don’t see who gets them. They don’t know who made them. Warms my heart.

    Theresa Smith on

  • I have a metal “art cart” in my kitchen. I use tiny magnets to display the ones I am currently working on.

    My refrigerator has bigger ones. Special boxes are full of them. I give some away. I love sharing them and keeping them!

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • I like to lean them against the books on the shelf. And, I get the chance to rotate them, or add to them for a few days. I keep a few aside from zentangle classes – as I tend to look back to them when I need some inspiration. Those are in a metal tin. Usually, tho, I give my tiles away. I tuck them into greeting cards or personal notes, and I think the recipients enjoy them. And one friend asked about classes – wanted to give Zentangle a try. Always, Carol

    Carol Lee Parry on

  • I have them on walls, under the plexiglass which is on my studio work table, in boxes, and leaning, hanging, stuck on cork board, easels, anywhere I can see them for inspiration. And so many things waiting to be tangled: a drum, a guitar, an iPad cover, cups, and all sorts of paper and tiles. . . There’s no end to the ideas. and I already know I’m weird!

    Dennie York on

  • I often throw them into the prize basket in my classroom and students can use them for a homework pass. I love it when they are reluctant to give them up.

    Suzanne Bessin on

  • Great story!

    I keep some in a binder that goes to classes for students to look at. I have some scattered around my office/art room, some at work, some are framed and hanging in the house. I have given many away to friends and family. I have quite a few ‘tangle bags’ that have finished tiles in them. It’s like finding a treasure chest when I open them!

    Kim Kohler on

  • What do I do with my tiles? Marvel at them, recall how I was feeling before and after the meditative joy in the creating, wonder what made me do that pattern, wonder at the possibilities to try something similar. They are a testament to my journey.

    Ginger White CZT34 on

  • I carry an envelope of completed tiles, some black and white, some with colour, all in my handbag 👜 and wherever I go I try to leave one or two for people to find, because if they make me smile as I do them, then hopefully they will make the people who find them, also smile! Where do I leave them? Bus and tram stops, in taxis, at the library tucked into books, in cafes tucked under a plate as I leave, in magazines in waiting rooms for doctors etc, into PO Boxes at the local post office………if you think where you can leave them, there are a million places to give someone a “moment”

    In their day………

    Sue Zanker on

  • I just passed my fourth Zentangle discovery year on Sunday, June 9th, 2019 and have been delighted with Zentangle for all those years. I am up to Tile #958 and am frantically searching for more 3-1/2″ × 3-1/2" plastic pages as my third volume is almost full! I give away copies sometimes, but the originals are like the children I never had – mind you, 958 children would have been somewhat excessive! Anyway, I just wanted to thank you (and everybody else who helps you) very much for this wonderful creative outlet!

    Rosemary Turpin on

  • I loved that letter so much! Just what is it about Zentangle that makes us all so darn happy? Is it that we’ve learned to draw a thing of beauty when many of us had never drawn before? Or that tangling enables us to transcend into this truly present & mindful zone, oblivious to our surroundings for hours & hours at a time? It seems we’re all experiencing this Zen state of mind while drawing & can openly acknowledge profound gratitude to be participating in this “weird” art form! 😂

    My precious tangles are never able to be displayed or framed on a wall because I live on a sailboat which has incredibly limited space and very salty surroundings! I line up each weeks work to admire (or critize!) and then tuck them safely away. But I find great joy in pulling them ALL out from time to time, witnessing my progress, or getting lost in the memories of when they were drawn…what island….. what anchorage. (OK..that sounds corny but it’s absolutely true! 😂) Occasionally I’m even dazzled & amazed that " I did that! "

    I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only one being asked "What do you do with them? " To which I answer with the sailors classic motto: " The journey IS the destination! ) They may not voice it, but I ‘m quite certain a few of those friends were thinking…. "man, that’s just weird! " 😂

    Jan Brogan (Sailandbejoyful) on

  • Most of mine have been placed as centerpieces for greeting cards and sent to friends (some elderly who I have never met) and family, who assure me they have kept every one I’ve sent. Some fun things I do is paint Kleenex boxes with bright acrylic paint and glue Zentangle cards on all four sides along with cute embellishments and give these as gifts mostly to someone who’s ill .—and glue them on gift bags. Someone gave me a nice folding screen that stands next to my creative corner and I filled the 15 frames with tiles. Learning and practicing tangling has so enhanced my life! Thanks, Maria and Rick!

    Paula Schneider on

  • Why do we have to “do something” with them? For me it all about the doing….the peace I feel during the process is enough! Delighted that I discovered Zentangle all those years ago.

    Michele J Emerson-Roberts on

  • I also have over 1,000 tiles and they currently all fit in one of those pretty cardboard photo boxes that they sell at hobby stores. I put a divider down the center so that I can have them in two rows and they fit perfectly. I have a few of my favorites displayed around my desk area and change them out occasionally.

    Linda Genaw on

  • I only found the delight of Zentangle a few months ago right when I needed a creative outlet to cope with a stressful time in my life. I currently have my tiles pegged to a couple of string lines in my dining room. Every time I see them I smile and feel amazed and proud that I actually produced these beautiful little works of art! When I first started Hubby was like ‘they’re great but what are you going to DO with them all?’. I said ‘It doesn’t matter what I do with them, it’s DOING them that counts!’ Zentangle has given me so much joy, peace and confidence! Thank you Rick and Maria for sharing this treasure with the world.

    Liz Gatehouse on

  • I started saving in an album. Then I moved to mini black easels from Michaels. Then a friend gave me a clear block. Then another friend gave me 4 frame blocks, Then I started giving them away as treats at parties, etc. with a mini black easel. Just today I bought some minimalist frames at Michaels and put some in those. I’m always looking for new ways to display and ways to gift. I also bought a large glass frame today for my Opus tile. What fun!

    Emoryette McDonald on

  • Oh My! As the years have gone by, I have given the greatest majority of my tile to my son and his fellow housemates who have an ‘art room’. They post art of all kinds in there in lots of funky ways, but my tiles have become a huge hit with the crew. Every time I send my son new ones, there is delight in the room as all get to explore them together the first time. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to have such an amazing group of fans! 🤣. More and more of late, my tiles get hung from the great mobile I purchased from the Z store, a wonderful string-frame I found at WalMart and others tucked into nooks and crannies around the house. Also have a display in he hallway just outside of my apartment door, arranged with some family antiques.

    Thank you ALL for bringing us this incredible gift called Zentangle. Mere words will never be able to express what it has done for my life. Namaste 🙏🏻 🙇🏻‍♀️✍🏻♥️

    LovelyRita on

  • I am asked this often: I have many in a binder with pages that hold 12 (6 front, six back) (about 300) and several bijous tins filled as well as zendala tins filled. Then there are several zentangle glass frames in each size where i place one on each side and rotate a bit. A few as gifts, several in a graveyard pile that I periodically rejuvenate. But recently I have thought I might try to capture in snapfish or similar commercial photo album(s) by year/chronologically or by type….decisions, decisions! Next i may just paper a room with them!

    Pamela Sauerwald on

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