Welcome to BLOG Zentangle. To learn about Zentangle, visit our website, read our free newsletters, take a class with a local Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and best of all . . . create your own!

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Our dear friend and long time employee, Nancy Sampson, died last year of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease."

As her symptoms progressed, Nancy lost her ability to speak and move, except for slight head movements.

After several months of unsuccessfully trying to use a very expensive, speech-generating device (basically a computer with technology that tracked eye movements), Nancy and Len (her husband) were very frustrated.

When Maria and I visited, we were saddened to see her husband's frustration at not being able to communicate with his beloved wife. This frustration was amplified for everyone, because inside that still beautiful, but unresponsive body was the same vibrant and quick-witted Nancy we had always known and loved.

Len described how much hope they had placed in the high-tech speech device. Len was facing the prospects of never conversing again with his wife who was sitting right there, fully aware of everything that was going on. It now all felt hopeless.

That evening Maria had an idea.

She lettered the alphabet, numbers and some key phrases on a large 3 x 4 foot piece of 1/2 inch foam board. I ordered a bunch of laser pointers. We got a pair of Nancy's sunglasses and removed the lenses. We used electrical tape to attached two small laser pointers with switches (so they would stay on without keeping them pressed in) to Nancy's eyeglass frames. We used two laser pointers so the frames were balanced, and if a battery ran out in one laser, the other could be immediately turned on.

Because the board was placed across the room from her, all Nancy had to do was move her head ever so slightly to point out the letters. The large board enabled Nancy to speak to the whole room or to one person. It worked perfectly from the very first minute she used it.

We remember fondly when we first set it up, that in spite of her circumstances, one of her first "spellings" was to tell a joke to her husband.

Suddenly, the Nancy we all knew was back . . . chatting, teasing and cracking jokes. She could "talk" again with her beloved husband, her family and her friends.

Nancy used her board to communicate with her family for months until just hours before she left.


The laser pointers were about $9 each. We had the foam board in our studio (a 40 x 60 inch half-inch thick foam board costs about $25). We used an old pair of Nancy's glasses. Total cost: about $45.

Her care givers had not seen anything like this before. As far as we know, this idea was not in use in this circumstance.

A recent article we read about ALS and its impact on communication with loved ones prompted us to share this.

In Nancy Sampson's memory, please share this idea with anyone you know who can use it. This idea is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

In her memory, we call it "Nancy's VoiceBox."

We love you, Nancy!


Note 1: The decorative pattern on Nancy's VoiceBox is the Zentangle tangle, sampson, which Nancy designed.
Note 2: Please follow all instructions and cautions that come with whatever laser device you use.
Note 3: We are working with Len to design a product that folks can buy with all profits to go directly to families caring for ALS patients. Len will manage it. In the meantime, a high resolution image of Nancy's VoiceBox can be downloaded from zentangle.com/images/voicebox.jpg
Note 4: For further information, email Nancy's husband, Len Sampson, at lsampson_1@charter.net

After posting this blog, we sent a link to Mike "Mish" Shedlock, who writes a popular and insightful financial blog, "Global Economic Trend Analysis." We sent it because Mish is active in raising funds to cure ALS because he recently lost his wife to this disease. Mish shared this blog post with his readers at this link. One of his readers posted this comment:

Hello Mish

Thank you for this idea. My mother has a stroke the eliminated her ability to speech. Someone made flash cards for her, but that never worked very well. I can see that the speech board containing many options plus the ability to spell out works all in one place would have been very valuable. My mother died in early 2010, but I am motivated to pass on this information.


In other words, this is not just for people with ALS. Thank you, Mish. Thank you, Johana.

Click images for larger views.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Welcome CZT XV!

Please join us in welcoming the Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) from our 15th seminar:

Once more, the phenomenon that Zentangle attracts really nice people proved itself again. It is such a privilege for all of us to meet and get to know such amazing artists.

And so begins our CZT XV Welcome Newsletter.

Here are larger images of the seminar images in that newsletter.

Fun in the Hotel Providence lobby:

Many Zentangle creations were on display:

Laura Harms, aka "The Diva" of iamthedivaczt blogging fame told her story one evening. Laura, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada, is a CZT. She attended our third seminar.

Her blog (in the unlikely chance that you aren't familiar with it) offers a Zentangle challenge each Monday. It is a widely followed, award winning blog that has developed into a forum for wonderful art and a supportive community.

Laura had us alternately laughing and crying as she shared her life story and how it interwove with Zentangle.

Laura Harms, CZT (and Diva!)

Group Collaborative

Thank you, and welcome, CZTs of Seminar XV !

Click images for larger views.

You can find a list of Certified Zentangle Teachers HERE.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thank you!

To our wonderfully passionate artists, our sincere gratitude.

We savored reading all the comments on our "10 Years . . . Wow!" blog post. Over this past week, we read them aloud to each other . . . sometimes at the end of a busy day outside on our front yard . . . sometimes as our day began over a cup of coffee. What a heart-touching treasure. We are so grateful.

When we ran our random number generator, there were 447 posts from which to choose!

So, the first 10 names who get a print of our new

"Anything Is Possible One Stroke at A Time" signed print are:
  • Karen Silvester (430)
  • Beth Brooks (388)
  • Marcia Campbell (260)
  • Alisha Christian (293)
  • David Nelson (145)
  • Jeannie (334) 
  • Dorian (161)
  • Ashley (143)
  • Tracey (60)
  • Merlady (216)
However, with 447 comments we couldn't just do one group of ten. So we had to pick 10 more names.  This second group of ten will get a "Zentangle Keepsake Box" with some Zentangle ATC tiles inside.
  • Courtney (339)
  • Carmen Burgos (199)
  • Pat Floerke (419)
  • Betsy Smith (184)
  • Staci (46)
  • Lynnita Knoch (64)
  • Lisa Osborne (266)
  • Katie C. (337)
  • Linda H. (432)
  • "ibjpski" (99)
If you are on this list, please email your mailing address to info@zentangle.com. Please put "Zenth Giveaway" in the subject line so we can find it more easily.

Again, thank you. Thank you. And, thank you.

We love you all and look forward to the next ten years being way more exciting than the last. Is that even possible???

Well,  you know what they say,  "Anything is possible . . . ."


Rick and Maria

Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcome CZT XIV !

Please join us in welcoming the Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) from our 14th seminar:

We are thrilled and honored that these talented and passionate people traveled to Providence, RI, to learn, share and make friends from all the world. With this seminar, there are now CZTs in three new countries: Singapore, Spain and Switzerland.

The creativity and excitement was abuzz as these Zentangle artists arrived at Hotel Providence.

And so begins our CZT XIV Welcome Newsletter.

We include larger images of the pictures here from that newsletter so that you can view them more clearly, and also leave comments.

Enjoying a group mosaic

Admiring a class project with Renaissance Tiles

Posing with the lobby art and . . .

. . . our welcome sign

The weather was perfect and we could eat all our meals outside if we wanted.

Many students brought their creations to share.

And everyone contributed to this beautiful group collaboration.

Thank you, and welcome, CZTs of Seminar XIV !


Visit yesterday's "Zentangle 10th Anniversary" blog post and leave a comment for a chance to win a print of a new Zentangle original!

Click images for larger views.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ten Years . . . Wow!

We can hardly believe that it has been 10 years since our first public Zentangle class.

The days, weeks and months . . . and years! . . . just seem to zip by . . . all in a revery of excitement and gratitude.

We are both surprised and not so surprised by the shear magnitude of spectacular art created by artists around the world using the Zentangle method.

We are thankful for the strong Zentangle community that has grown around us. Thank you each and every one, artists all, for your support, friendship and encouragement that has enabled us to continue our journey.

In celebration, we will be giving gifts to some lucky commenters on this blog post. After one week, we will randomly choose 10 names and send each person a signed print of this anniversary original we created and will release publicly soon.

We will announce the names on July 24, 2014.

Thank you from our tangled hearts. We love you all.

Rick & Maria, and the staff at Zentangle Central

We taught our first public Zentangle class at the annual meeting of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH) in Providence, RI, July 17, 2004. There happened to be an astrologer in the front row. When she heard it was our first class, she noted the time and later sent us a chart. She said that Zentangle would grow slowly and steadily, and that it would benefit people all over the world. Sweet memories.

Appropriate to our tenth anniversary, an important addition recently agreed to join our Zentangle staff and will help a lot with this blog. We look forward to posting more frequently. Introductions to follow shortly!

Happy "Zenth" Anniversary!