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

First Day of Zentangle 2017

"On the First Day of Zentangle . . ."

On the first stroke of Zentangle
R and M began, 
With white squares and simple black lines

In the fall of 2003, Rick and Maria developed the Zentangle Method. In these early days of its conception they decided that the method would use a 3.5" square white piece of high quality artist paper. 

In the photo above, Alfie holds an example of the first Zentangle tile design. This is the first tile that Molly tangled.

They knew right away that they wanted to work small. The idea behind this was to help conquer the fear of a large blank surface that may seem overwhelming. And so Rick and Maria tested to see how much surface you could cover with tangles in about 15 minutes or so - the length of a standard coffee break. 

They found that a 3.5" square was a nice size to allow you to create something beautiful in one sitting. We all know now that you can easily spend much more than 15 minutes, but the idea was that you could develop your practice within  these parameters. 

They decided on a square rather than a rectangle because this supported their concept of no up or down as the tile could be worked on and viewed from any angle. 

The quality of the paper was also important because the quality of your materials affect the respect and value you put on your time and your art. We always say to find the best tools available to you. Even if you decide to tangle with a stick in the sand at low tide, you would still want the best stick and the most beautiful patch of sand. 

Maria and Rick set off to test and explore all kinds of papers and pens. They finally landed on their favorite combination, Fabriano® Tiepolo®, an exquisite, 100% cotton mould made paper from the oldest paper mill in the world and Sakura® Pigma® Micron pens with beautiful black pigment ink. And so they started cutting up this paper to create small canvases for this new art form. 

The name of these drawing surfaces was decided upon as they contemplated how a group would display their individual creations in a collaborative. They chose to call the group a "Mosaic" and the individual pieces of paper, "Tiles."

The first tiles were actually square with ordinary cut corners as you can see in the photo above with a very preliminary version of the Zentangle logo. Actually, these tiles were created late one night in preparation for their first public class in the summer of 2004.

Time went by and many tangled works were piling up. One day, Rick put some of his tiles in his jeans' pocket, then forgot about them and threw the jeans in the washing machine. The tile and its tangles survived both the washer and the dryer but in the cycle inherited lovely rounded corners and a frayed natural edge very similar to the deckle of the large sheets of mould made paper. Rick and Maria were thrilled with how beautiful this made the tile and so decided to die-cut the tiles to add another layer of specialness to this drawing surface. 

Within a year after the birth of Zentangle, the first manufactured Zentangle Tiles were produced at a small printer and die-cutter in Massachusetts. A meticulously designed die was created to cut these magical 3.5" square pieces of Fabriano Tiepolo complete with subtle deckled edges and rounded corners. To this day, our original white tiles are still made this way.

Today, we celebrate the 3.5"white square Zentangle Tile. We thought it would be fun to go back to the beginning. Many of you know that when we introduce the method to someone we start with a very specific tile that showcases the 8 steps of the method and also teaches some key Zentangle techniques. 

This tile is one you may have done may times. It has dots, border and a Z shaped string and four tangles: crescent moon, hollibaugh, a grid tangle and a simple organic tangle. 

Whether you have tangled this type of tile a hundred times or never before, we invite you to join us we explore it ... with a little twist, of course! 


Rick Roberts


  • Been looking forward to this! Just completed my tile for the first day. I’d gotten to my email too late yesterday to “get my tangle on”! Very much enjoyed the modified tangles!

    Sarah Hluchy on

  • I have made 30 Zentangle ornaments for my family and friends. They love them and I do too.

    Nina Smith on

  • I am looking forward to participating in the 12 Days of Zentangle this year. So fun to be a part of!

    Lynn Howell on

  • Been looking forward to this for months now. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Matt Wieczkowski, CZT on

  • Lovely Lovely

    Andrea on

  • Thank you for there 12 days of Zentangle! I just made my first tile and it’s a very relaxing and inspirational process

    Vita on

  • I am so very glad to be a part of this Christmas tradition with u guys. I love reading about the history, and the video is a great reminder to return to the basics every now and then. Some days, I have no clue where to start. I will remember to just start…at the beginning.

    Dana "Jonesy" Jones on

  • Thank you for adding the history again. I was so excited all day to receive the e-mail and found a new way to do Hollibaugh that met N’Zeppel.

    Michelle Broadbent on

  • I love the project packs❤️Love to tangle along with the videos. Excited to see where 12 Days of ZenTangle takes us?. Thanks for the fun✨✨✨

    Pat O`Connor on

  • The video was delightful! Did anyone else notice that the Bales variation bears a lot of similarity to OOF?

    Donna LF on

  • This was a lot of fun. I enjoy tangling along and learning more about the history!

    Fina on

  • I enjoyed reading the history of Zentangle again. There is something so comforting in repeating the familiar. And then I watched the video and there it was again – comfort (with a twist)! Loved this first one and am looking forward to the ones to follow ;D

    Tharina on

  • I spent all day yesterday looking forward to the first video and it was worth the wait. Y’all are so much fun in the videos and I love the new spins on the originals!

    Christine on

  • Thank you so much, I can hardly wait for the next video!

    Floor de Jonge on

  • An intriguing challenge… i am loving each posts unique flavor. Excited for the journey ahead.

    Jadene R on

  • It was so much fun creating the first day of Zentangle last night! Looking forward to day two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…ten…eleven and twelve.

    Rosemarie Main on

  • Loved reading the history on the birth of Zentangle. Thoroughly enjoyed today’s first day of Christmas tile. I will be waiting in anticipation for the days to come. Many thanks.

    Lianne on

  • Absolutely loved today’s tangles and had a great time with my tile…Thanks to all of you !

    Sharon Jerkovic on

  • I love the 12 Day’s of Zentangle! And love the new tools available, too! Merry Tangling!

    Kat van Rooyen on

  • Have been waiting for this, and I love the “thinking out of the box”! But for me, the Zentangle method is just that!!! And I love it!

    Patsy N. Burroughs on

  • Love taking a trip with a twist down memory lane! Really enjoyed thinking a little outside of the box! Really excited for the next 11 days! Love love love the 12 days of Zentangle!!

    Laura Carpenter on

  • Such fun! The new pressure technique with PN has lots of potential!
    Thanks for bringing us along on your journey ?

    patsy monk on

  • So glad to go back to the beginning, the initial moment we fell in love with Zentangle. I love Zentangle with its basic way, and now I got new eyes to enjoy tangles and process. Thank you all ___

    Sylvia Liao on

  • Well, that was fun! My printemps suddenly started nibbling on the hollibaugh, so I let them get together for a nice effect!

    Cynthia Comstock on

  • I love the challenge of reimagining these basic tangles! Thank you for all the work that goes in to this series of tiles! I’ve been waiting for the 12 Days of Zentangling since… oh, the end of 12 Days of 3Zs! ?

    Danita Noland on

Leave a comment