I’ve been wanting to try paper marbling for AGES but everything I had read about it put it in the too hard basket. There are 2 key things to marbling, prepping the paper with a ‘mordant’ and hardening the water to create a ‘size’ which is the liquid that you’ll marble in. There are a range of products that can apparently be used for the mordant and to create the size, but many seem to come with mixed reviews and with a list of alum, methocel, carrageenan I felt like I was back in my science days and not even sure where to begin shopping; hence why it ended up in the too hard basket. But I came across this Marbling Kit at my local art store and the fact that it included everything I needed to give it a go made it an easy purchase (although is there anything in the art store that’s not an easy sell?).
My trial runs of marbling taught me two things, this is not the project to take short cuts on or try to speed up the process and marbling requires you to relinquish control over the outcome! But here’s what it looks like…
Prepping the paper with a mordant : Alum
Dissolve 4 tablespoons of alum in 1 litre of warm water. You can either submerge the paper into the solution and then hang to dry, or place the solution inside a spray bottle and spray and even coverage all over the paper. Let the paper dry completely (the marbling solution will not adhere to a wet surface)
Prepping the size : Methocel method
Slowly add 4 tablespoons of methocel to 1 litre of warm water and blend using a whisk or blender. Blend until all the methocel is dispersed (about 5 mintues). Pour slowly into the tray that you will use for your marbling and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
Prepping the size : Carrageenan method
Add 2 tablespoons of carrageenan to 1 litre of warm water and blend using a whisk or blender. Blend until all the carrageenan is dispersed (about 10 minutes). Allow to stand for 12 hours and then pour into marbling tray.
Drop individual drops of the paint slowly and close to the size. To create the swirls or the classic marble effect, use a pin or skewer to drag the colours through each other and create a pattern. Different paint colours will disperse differently through the size, this is where the ‘magic’ comes into it. Place your prepared paper onto the size, to avoid air getting caught curl your paper into a U shape and place the centre of the U in the size first and then drop each side in. Gently remove the paper and rinse under a gentle stream of water. To do multiple marbling sheets, drag a scrap piece of paper or newspaper across the top of the size to pick up any leftover paint before creating your next marble pattern.
My top tip, its worth the effort! Once you get all the preparation done, it’s quick and fun. Just prepare LOTS of extra paper so that you can experiment with colours and patterns and be prepared for a few to be disasters among the successes!