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Marbled Paper

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Decorating paper with a centuries-old technique

I first discovered marbled paper at an art supply store and it was a case of “love at first sight”. I knew that it was something I wanted to try and experiment with. While 35 years ago information on how to and materials were scarce, today you’ll find all kinds of both, making it real accessible.

I made my own rakes and brushes as well as the tray. There are a few places where one can buy colors, carrageenan, ox gall and alum, one of them is Dick-Blick. Aside from the satisfaction of making my own tools, it did save me a bundle and the skills required to make them are real entry level.

While marbled paper is nice to look at, it also finds several uses in my “shop”, from end papers and covers for my notebooks/journals, to lining for some of the tea boxes I make, as well as for origami!

There are alternatives to the traditional materials and I have experimented with some, using methylcellulose (wallpaper paste) for thickening the water, and Kodak photo flow as surfactant (helps colors to spread), even Scope mouthwash! As well as thinned down oil colors (they float on regular tap water).

Alum is used as a mordant to treat the paper prior to marbling and it helps the colors to stick and keeps them brighter.

A tray, lined with plastic foil, some rakes and an assortment of brushes, all home made.

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Judy Moyer
Judy Moyer

the marbled paper is so beautiful... but it is hard to do... and messy...

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