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Paper Marbleizing

The Paper Marbleizing group was a success. Thanks to all who attended! There was a fair amount of prep work and patience involved in getting everything ready, however it was blast and the paper turned out amazing! If you would like to try out paper marbling for yourself here are some instructions based on my experience:

What You'll Need:

  • Uncoated (non-glossy) medium weight paper

  • Paintbrushes

  • Clothesline or string and clothespins

  • Acrylic paints

  • Small containers for the paint (I used empty yogurt containers)

  • Whisk

  • Small bowl

  • Large bowl

  • Measuring cups and a tablespoon

  • Knitting needle or skewer

  • Toothpicks and cardboard

  • 1/4 cup methyl cellulose (a thickening agent)

  • 2 tablespoons of alum (helps paint adhere to paper)

  • One shallow 14-by-16-inch baking pan (use larger pans if you are using larger sheets of paper) or trays (such as photo-developing trays)

  • An iron and ironing board

  • A bucket of sorts that will fit in your sink

  • A significant amount of time

Preparing the Paper and Your Space

Start by finding a space where you can set up your clothesline. Paper marbling can get pretty messy so find a spot that will be easy to clean up afterward. You will also want to make sure you choose a spot with a sink. Put up your clothesline making sure you there is plenty of room to hang lots of paper.

Then you can begin to prepare the surface of your paper: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of the alum in 2 cups of warm water.

Use a pencil to mark one side of the paper, then brush that side with the alum mixture. (The pencil markings will indicate which side you prepared, as the solution will dry clear.) Hang on a clothesline (about 1 hour) to dry; when dry, iron sheets on a medium setting to flatten.

Set up your tray near the clothesline and close to the sink.


Mix the Marbling Solution

(AKA the goop)

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of methyl cellulose with 4 quarts cold water, whisking to incorporate powder. I added the methyl cellulose to the bowl first, then slowly whisked the water in. When the mixture is free of lumps, let it sit about an hour, stirring at 15-minute intervals until it is syrupy. Pour the liquid into your tray.

Pick out some colors you want to work with then thin the acrylic paints, until runny, with small amounts of water. Dip a brush into your first paint color, and hold it over the tray; tap on the handle with a pencil, letting the paint speckle the mixture. Continue to add paint, covering as much of the mixture's surface as you like. Leave the speckles as they are, or speckle paint on solution to create a "stone" pattern.


Embellish the Paper

Hold the paper by two corners and lower it (prepared side down) so it floats on top of the solution. Let go of the corners, and smooth out any air bubbles with your fingertips. (Air bubbles are inevitable, so don't fret if a few remain.) Let the paper float for a few seconds, then gently lift it from the solution.


Rinse and Dry

Immediately after removing the paper from the goop, hold it in the sink and run water over it, ideally allowing the bucket to catch the goop since the goop could clog your drain. Hang paper to dry and do not touch the paper until it is dry (typically within 2 hours, depending on humidity levels). Decide whether to keep or discard your solution (it can be used several times). To change paint colors, lay strips of newsprint across the solution's surface, then remove; repeat with clean strips until the solution is clear. You can store the solution in an airtight jar for about a week. Don't leave it in the tray, which could rust. If you have excess solution, do not pour it down the sink. Instead, pour the liquid into a resealable bag or plastic container, and throw it away. (There are no dangerous toxins to be concerned about since it's essentially gelatin)


What now?

You can frame your paper, turn it into a card, a bookmark, or create a collage. Get creative with it! Find the beauty within both the process and the product.

Please let me know if you have any questions with the process!



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