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How to create marbled paper

Jude has been attending art classes this fall (more on that next week!) and I think all the artistic fever is rubbing off on me as I’ve been inspired lately to tackle some hands-on art projects.

A few weeks ago, this image of these strongly saturated marbled papers caught my eye. The monochromatic feel was reminiscent of malachite, which I love. I think historically marbled papers have been viewed as a little bit stodgy, but the saturation of the original colors were so fascinating to me. The pin led to this excellent post on how to marble paper and then my wheels started spinning.  I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel on this post since Mini-Eco does such a great job of it, but I thought I’d at least show you my process, and some of the results.

I ordered my supplies from Dick Blick – a nice little Japanese set of marbling inks complete with instructions in both English and (of course) Japanese as well as some large sheets of colorful cardstock, which I ended up not using (but more on that later).  I laid out all my supplies on top of cardboard boxes that were broken down to protect my table and some extra foam core boards. I filled 3 pyrex casserole dishes with water and got out the vegetable oil.

The whole trick of marbling paper is suspending the ink on the top of the water.  Adding tiny droplets of the vegetable oil (or any oil, really – that’s just what I had on hand) creates contrast and then I swished it around with a toothpick.  It was ridiculously therapeutic. Before I knew it, I had gone through an entire stack of paper.  The ink colors are fairly simplistic and don’t offer a lot in the way of custom colorways. But every single print you create is different from the next. Each one is truly an original.

Even the ones that I would consider “the duds” were still lovely.

While I had originally intended to use colored paper to get a stronger effect, I never really got the results I was looking for. The best results always came from the white paper.  Overall, I think it takes lots of practice and probably a higher quality of ink.  Of all the paper I went through, I came away with about half the stack that was really good.  So don’t expect them to be all perfect. Enjoy the process and have fun experimenting!

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