Recently we wrote about marbling in our post about Easter egg decorating, and we thought we’d devote a little more time this week to talk about the amazing process of marbling!
Paper marbling is an excellent craft to do as the weather gets nicer. It’s a great outdoor activity: since it's a bit messy, you won’t have to worry as much about clean-up afterwards when you're outside. The fresh air and sun will highlight the beautiful marbling process, and it will help your paper to dry faster (just make sure it’s not too windy!).
|We love the classic black and white look!|
Marbling is one of those crafts that may seem intimidating, but getting started with it is actually pretty easy and straightforward.
Click the link below for a step-by-step process and to learn insiders tips and tricks!
Supplies available at all collage supply locations!
We sell these cool non-toxic kits by Jacquard, which are a great way to get started. They allow you to marble both fabric and paper. They come with 6 colors (red, yellow, blue, purple, black, and white), but you can easily mix them to create custom color combinations.
Supplies (available at collage):
* Jacquard marbling kit
* paper: we used Strathmore cold press 140lb, and Sumi-e rice paper
* craft picks or dowels to draw in the ink with
* cardboard or chipboard to sweep the tub of ink
Additional supplies (standard household stuff):
* measuring cups and spoons
* towels or newsprint for drying paper on
* 2 shallow plastic or metal containers for dyeing
* water source that’s easy to access
* fork or whisk
A note about paper:
You want something that is absorbent and porous or semi-porous, but that will hold up to water. Stay away from glossy papers.
Vellum, Rives BFK, and Canson Drawing Paper XL are other papers that collage carries, which give good results!
1. Follow the Jacquard kit directions for mixing water alum (aka aluminum sulphate). We did 1 tbsp of alum to 1 cup of water.
2. Coat one side of your paper with alum using a sponge, make sure to hit every area of the paper. The paper should be dampened, but not totally dripping wet. Mark the back side of the paper that does not have alum, for future reference. It’s best to do this step the night before. If you are dying fabric, be sure to wash the fabric first (especially if it is new), before coating it with alum, to get rid of any starch that’s in the fabric. Alum is not harmful, but it does dry out your skin. Wash your hands after coating your paper. Use your treated paper/fabric within 2 days.
NOTE: you may skip this step if you don’t have enough time. Alum is a mordant, or "color binder," and it acts to fix the colors to the paper permanently. Without it, you still get the effect of marbling, but results will vary, and you will find that your colors may rinse or slide off the page.
3. Wait for the paper to completely dry (it must be totally dry before marbling).
4. Once dry, you will probably need to iron your paper or fabric on a low setting. It needs to be as flat as possible in order to get good results.
4. Create your size: mix your carrageenan and water together according to Jacquard instructions (we did 1.5 tsp to 4 cups of water). If your tub is deep enough, you can do the mixing inside the tub. Use the fork to whisk together the water and carrageenan, getting rid of all of the carrageenan goobers. This may take a while! Carageenan is seaweed, and it is sometimes used as a gelatin substitute in vegan desserts; it’s not surprising then that the mixture of water and carrageenan will be a little slimy and snot-like. This thickness allows the ink to suspend in the water. You can use your carrageenan solution right away, or mix it several hours before.
5. Be sure to pop any bubbles that you see. You are done prepping and ready to begin marbling. Yay!
6. Create your designs in the carrageenan mixture (which should be at about room temperature). Working fast is better, as the colors start to break up and shatter, and look like cracks, the longer they sit there; create your design within 4 minutes. You can drop the colors directly from the kit’s bottles, or you can create your own colors and use an eyedropper to drop the color. After adding color, stir the drops around with your toothpick. You can create swirls with the toothpick, or just move it back and forth.
NOTE: When dropping in color, hold it close to the surface, about an inch or less from the surface. If you hold your bottle too high, the drop will break the surface tension and sink to the bottom of your tub. Also, a little bit of color goes a long way, so just lightly squeeze the bottles for colors.
7. Now it’s time for the magic! Hold your paper with two hands, and gently drop your paper onto your design as evenly and smoothly as possible. Make sure the paper is in complete contact with the water, and there are no corners sticking up. The design transfers immediately, so you can pull up your paper right away.
NOTE: If you see any white areas in your marbling, there was probably a bubble in your design, or the paper didn’t lay entirely flat. If there are any marks, they are probably hesitation lines, where you paused while laying down the paper.
If you are marbling fabric like a muslin bag (like we did), or a t-shirt, you will need to put a piece of cardboard to stiffen the fabric, and to protect the opposite side from getting wet when dipping.
8. Take your paper to the sink or your extra tub of water and rinse off the carrageenan. Marvel at your beautiful one-of-a-kind design!!
9. You can use the size again and again. All you need to do is skim the surface with your chipboard to great rid of the stray pigment in between each paper pull. It may start to get murky, but often the old pigment is sitting at the bottom of the tub, and won’t affect your marbling.
You can make awesome things with marbled paper. Once it’s dry (this may take a couple hours), you can think about creating envelopes (we used Judikins mini envelope templates to make ours), postcards, paper pockets, gift tags bags and gift wrap, and origami (especially if you used rice paper). Of course you can also collage with the paper, create lampshades, use it as a photo backdrop, and the list goes on and on!! You can try marbling shoes, hats, canvas, leather, and wood.
See a couple samples below.
You can also try marbling with Golden’s Fluid Acrylic paint and the Japanese Suminagashi set that collage carries.