On the 13th of April, Justyna and I did our first paper marbling session in 2020. In this blog post I share the pictures of the process and the final results.
Paper marbling, also known by its Turkish name ebru or by its Japanese equivalent suminagashi (墨流し), is a technique of aqueous surface design. Marbled paper dates back to at least the 12th century AD and has traditionally been used for book binding and other decorative purposes. By dropping paint on the surface of water or a thickened fluid called size, and by manipulating that paint, all kinds of wonderful patterns can be created. The designs are directly transferred from the size onto paper or other materials such as fabric.
I discovered paper marbling in 2016 through a short 1970's documentary called The Art of the Marbler. Since 2018 I have been incorporating marbled designs in my art, particularly in my series of designs on the game of go that include animals. I sell those designs as posters and postcards to go players, go tournaments and other go organisations such as clubs, national associations/federations and schools.
It is always a lot of work to prepare a marbling session. Personally I mix a powder extract of carrageenan seaweed or a thickener with water to create the size. This has to be prepared the day before you want to marble, as the mixing creates air pockets that need time to disappear. It is possible to marble with air bubbles on your size, but this will result in white circles on your print where the bubbles touch the paper. In most cases that is not the desired result.
For the paint I use "ebru boyası" by the brand Art Deco, especially made for marbling. I have tried many types of paint, water, carrageenan extract, paper, you name it, but my best results came after I bought a ready-made set from Dodin's Marbling, a shop from Israel. Later I bought the same paint from an online marbling store in the Czech Republic and some additional tools like brushes with horsehair bristles from shops in Turkey.
The great fun of marbling comes after all the preparations have been taken care of, once you can start dripping paint on the surface of the size-fluid. The drops of paint expand and flow, patterns in all colours appear with ease and are just as easily changed with the touch of a stylus or a comb. It is satisfying to control the fluid motions of the paint. At the same time, you are never fully in control, since the paint finds its own natural way to flow. Marbling always surprises: one moment you have a beautiful pattern, then it changes completely when you drop a new colour in the tray. Or you think the colours look so-so in the tray, but when you transfer them onto paper all of a sudden they come to life. There are so many techniques to create different styles of patterns. Marbling is a bottomless well, an endless source of unique art that reminds me of nature and the cosmos.
Pictures of the process
The final results
Would you like to see more of my marbling? Have a look here.
The originals of these marbles on paper are for sale for 7,50 euros each. Let me know if you're interested!