I spent a wonderful couple of days with my friend Ginny Moreland in Black Mountain, NC where I was reminded of the process of marbling. As with most artisitic endeavors time and experience are crucial to doing the thing well and I haven’t marbled in almost 2 years! Marbling is a lot like magic: one floats pigments on top of thickened water, creates a pattern in the pigments, and lays a sheet of paper down to pick up the results. But weather conditions, quality of the pigments, technique, characterisitics of the paper – all of these will influence the final result, so one never knows exactly what the finished dried paper will look like.
We begin by mixing up carageenan to thicken the water – it needs to settle in the tank. Then the papers are treated with alum, which will help the pigment stick to the paper. And we set up our paints and brushes. Marbling can be done with a variety of pigments and can be applied to the surface of the water in a variety of ways.
Here are the steps of making one sheet:
My paints were old and my technique was rusty, but I managed to churn out several papers over the 2 days that I like and will use in creating books. It is so much more fun to do this with a knowledgeable friend who has a great studio space in her garage. Ginny was able to remind me of some of the processes and we encouraged one another. At the end of the second day I used some of her pigments and found the process more satisfying. I wound up discarding all of my old pigments at the end of the day – they just were not behaving well!
Below is 2 days’ worth of marbling by both Ginny (on left) and me (on right). The two music prints are commercially printed sheets from Italy that I marbled and wound up being among my favorites.