Thursday, 20 February 2014


Sam and I are wanting to use different textured stocks to create imagery and type with, and to gain a different, interesting effect, we wanted to try paper marbling as part of our experiments to see what the results are like when made yourself and not bought.
Marbling is a printmaking technique that basically looks like capturing a galaxy on a page, except it requires neither subatomic particles nor superhuman skills. Nowadays you can find video tutorials showing you how to marble everything from silk scarves to fingernails, but I primarily make marbled paper, which you can use as backgrounds for collages or photosto decorate journals and notebooks, or to wrap small gifts. If I weren’t such a DIY advocate, I would probably buy a marbling kit with step-by-step instructions (and no disrespect if you opt for that!), but I prefer to experiment, because the results are more unpredictable!
What you’ll need:
  • A set of oil paints
  • Turpentine
  • A few sheets of uncoated paper—regular printer paper will work, as long as it isn’t glossy.
  • A shallow rectangular container (like a baking tray) that is bigger than the size of your paper
  • Smaller containers for mixing paint (like jar lids)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Utensils for mixing and spreading paint. These can be brushes or straws, or you can make your own marbling comb with toothpicks, cardboard, and scotch tape (see below). Just make sure the length of the comb is smaller than the width of your tray, because you’re going to use it to drag the paint across the surface of the water.
Since you’ll be working with paint, you might want to wear old clothes, and cover your workspace with newspapers or a plastic tablecloth to prevent stains. You’ll need relatively easy access to a sink for clean-up, and if you can work near a window, the fresh air will help with the drying process.
Now on to the marbling:
1. Pour about an inch of water into the tray. Then choose the colors you want to use, and squeeze the paint into small, separate containers (I used the lids of the paint jars). Add some white paint if you want to get pastel shades.
2. Add some turpentine to the paint and mix. I suggest doing this in a well-ventilated space and wearing rubber gloves (even though I didn’t), because you don’t want to breathe in the fumes or irritate your skin. The proportion varies depending on how much paint you are using—I use about a teaspoon of turpentine for every ½ teaspoon of paint. You want the mixture to become liquid and smooth, but not too watery, like so:
3. Now comes the fun part. Create your design by pouring your paint into the water. You can just dump it all in, or selectively distribute the colors where you want them. You can add more turpentine if you want to thin the mixture out in places.
4. If you’re happy with the design, you can skip this step, but otherwise, you can redistribute your colors by swirling the mixture gently with a toothpick, blowing on the surface through a straw, or using your marbling comb.
5. Carefully lay a sheet of paper on the water. To avoid submerging it, start at one end and move slowly down the length of the paper—don’t just plop the whole thing down at once. (It’s OK if the face-up side gets a little wet, but keep it as dry as you can.) Get ready to pick it up right away, because step six comes RIGHT ON THE heels of five!
6. Remove the paper as soon as it’s flat! Starting at a corner, gently lift it out of the water. Again, you might want to use rubber gloves.
7. Lay the sheet out flat on a clean, protected surface. Once it’s been drying for a while, you can lay a heavy book on top of it to keep the edges from curling (slide a piece of paper in between to protect your book).
One tray of water is usually enough for three to five prints. Each one will be different from and lighter than the last, as the paint dissipates. It can take a few tries to get the desired effect, but every attempt will be mesmerizing. When it’s done, you’ll have a map of your own undiscovered galaxy—or some decorative gift wrap. It’s whatever you choose, so enjoy! ♦

Alternate Method:

Description: ivider
Written by:  Contributed by small hands big art
Date: August 8, 2011

This is guaranteed to be the cleanest, best smelling art project you'll ever do – shaving cream paper marbling!  Print pretty swirly patterns on paper to give as gifts, use as wrapping paper, or on gift tags.  Trim and frame the prints as a single piece of art or arrange in a series of prints.  It's a crazy fun mess, but the clean up is a breeze!

You Need:

 Shaving cream
 A large tray or baking sheet to hold the shaving cream
 Liquid Watercolors, food coloring mixed with water, or thinned acrylic paints (acrylics not recommended for children they stain clothing)
 Eye droppers or spoons to place the paint on the shaving cream
 Popsicle sticks, paintbrush handles or similar "devices" to stir the foam to create the swirls
 Large squeegee or other scraper
 Watercolor or drawing paper, or blank greeting cards, etc. -whatever type of paper you'd like to transfer the design onto
How to Do It:

1. Squirt a lemon meringue pie size amount of shaving cream in the center of the tray

2. Using the eye droppers or spoons, squirt or drop several colors of liquid watercolor or food coloring on the shaving cream.  It is recommended not to put the colors right on top of each other – leave a little bit of room in between the colors.

3. Gently stir the foam with a popsicle stick.  Caution – do not over-stir as it will make brown!  Make pretty swirl patterns or circles with the stick.  The more you stir the smaller the lines in the swirls will be when it is printed on the paper, so we recommend only stirring 3-4 big circles and swirls so that the colors are gently swirled but not too mixed together.  What you see in the shaving cream at this point is what will be printed on the paper.

4. Place a small sheet of watercolor or other heavyweight paper on the shaving cream and let it sit for 5 seconds to soak up the paint, and then gently rub the paper with your fingertips, applying a very light pressure.  You do not want to press too hard and squeeze all of the shaving cream out from under the paper or squish the foam around underneath.  A little experimentation may be needed to achieve the right amount of pressure.

5. Take a corner of the paper and lift it out of the shaving cream to reveal a pretty pile of shaving cream stuck to the other side of the paper!

6. Use a squeegee or plastic scraper to apply firm pressure on a flat surface, start at one end of the paper and scrape all of the shaving cream off of the paper.  Use one fluid movement from one end of the paper to the other – any stops and starts will cause the paint to transfer to the paper in lines.  Get creative to find the perfect "squeegee" for this part – our favorite device is a plastic wall paper smoother  - two work well together because you can use one to scrape off the other.  We've also used pastry cutters (with a long flat surface), long spatulas, stiff cardboard, or any handy hunk of solid plastic (like a clipboard!).  You want to apply pressure on a flat surface as you are scraping the foam off the paper to ensure that it is all removed.  Scrape off the shaving cream from the squeegee into a nearby garbage can.

7. Voila!  Revealed under the shaving cream will be a beautiful swirled pattern on the paper!  Let the paper dry thoroughly before trimming.

small hands big art is an art studio in South Charlotte that offers classes, camps, & parties for children & young adults.

8025 Ardrey Kell Rd.
Charlotte, NC  28277

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