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Marbling shmarbling

March 23, 2010

This past week the family and I made the long drive down to GA to visit in-laws and spend some quality time with family. The weather wasn’t great, the middle-child got sick, and the baby isn’t a great traveler. BUT. We still had a great time! Why? Because a) I was able to buy/borrow/steal (not really) some GREAT vintage books for future use! and b) my super-artistic mother-in-law taught me how to marble paper!!!
Pam took a class a few (perhaps 10!) years ago at John C Campbell Folk School on marbling with the hubby and ever since has wanted to do it again, but not until this week did she have the impetus (me!) to do so. She had all the necessary accoutrements (paper, airbrush paint, alum, methylcellulose, and plenty of room) and we set sail. Alum-ing the paper was no fun (basically you have to prepare the paper to take on the paint, so you sponge this alum solution (alum mixed with HOT water) onto one side of the paper you wish to use then hang to dry- afterward you stuff under a large book to press and make flat again). If I were to do this again, I would definitely alum the paper a day or so prior to marbling. Nonetheless, once your paper is ready- it’s time to go!

Oh wait! That’s not true. Not only do you need to alum the paper prior to marbling, but you need to make your marbling mixture well in advance as well (it’s a simple mixture of methyl cellulose and water- stirred for at least 30 minutes then left to sit for perhaps 12 hours if you have the time). Then it’s play-time!
We had a bit of a time getting the paint to float and then getting it to ‘spread out’ partially because we used lemon scented ammonia to counteract the acidity/basicity of the water and partially perhaps because of our weather (maybe?- we all have our excuses), but once I got started, I really began to like my results! Sure, they aren’t great or perfect or even halfway like these beautiful specimens here, but I had a great time doing it and I’m learning a new art form, which is amazing!

Honestly, I had no idea just how difficult marbling was going to be. I didn’t try to get any specific designs or even work at getting anything remotely . . . well, anything, because it was quite hard to guess what was going to come of the paper once you laid it on top of the water, but now that I’ve done it, I figure I’ll research some specific techniques and we’ll go on from there. Quite Lovely;)

Also- here’s a quick link for those of you interested in learning to marble both paper and fabric;)


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