Friday, 16 November 2012

Nonpareil part 2- Intermediate

In my opinion, this pattern may be in some ways easier than the pattern previously outlined. For one, more satisfying and pleasing results may be obtained. Furthermore, the pattern is also slightly easier to control. This method is also a good way of approximating the old combed patterns that you see in old books.

1- lay on the trough a base colour, usually red.
2- on this , lay droplets of black (K), blue ( B) and yellow( Y ), in a grid fashion, as shown below


( obviously, you can adjust the number of rows & columns to the size of your trough)

3- Stylus through the vertical columns, & comb across them.
=> obviously, you could use different colours from the above- Those colours are simply the most traditional.

This method of making nonpareils has long, orderly bands of colour, instead of the shorter, random stripes of the previous method. Whilst this produces a more symmetrical pattern, it may look a bit too mechanical, if you are not careful.

 If you substitute blue for green, you get a pattern known as the "old dutch"- However, I actually know of three methods of making a pattern by this moniker, and so, I have included it in a seperate post.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Nonpareil- Part 1- The basics

One of the real cliches of marbling, this pattern of marbled paper, sometimes called "combed" has been produced form the earliest times till the present day. It has been produced in almost any colour combination,  width of comb, and degree of skill since then.
 So, what is a nonapreil? Well, It is any form of marbled paper whose final step is a combing, and that combing must be preceeded by a previous combing , which is carried out at right angles to the final one. The key here is in the first combing, and it's direction.
The materials:
Nonapreils need a size which is thin, but not watery. It has to be thin, or else the colours cannot pass through the comb. Neither should it be watery, as the colours would shift about and misbehave when they are combed.

Nonpareils traditionally have 4-5 colours in them, but equally traditional ones have only two ( see blue nonpareil)

Comb: The comb in question is usually one with  0.5 cm spacing, but smaller and larger ones have been made. Nonpareils made with a large comb look good on large books, and vice versa.

The basic process of a nonpareil is this:

1- drop on any number of colours ( 2-3 is good for the beginner)
2- make a git-gel ( see--) along the length of the trough [ on small troughs, you can omit this step; and skip to 3 ]
3- on this git gel, make another, but this time, along the width of the trough
4- pass the comb along the width of the trough.

The resultng pattern, in all it's glory, is the nonpareil. Now, it is often printed as it is, but you can add extra decoration to the pattern.....

1- curled nonpareil.
 simply make curls over the nonpareil

2- double combed-
Draw a rake over the nonpareil. Occasionaly done.

There is also another method, slightly more advanced, Which, in my opinion, produces a somehat more pleasing paper. - see

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Fountain, or combed stone

This pattern is certanly one of the more unusual of the marbled patterns. It is somwehat between a nonpareil and a stone, except with one vital difference- the pattern is not stylused first.

 1- make a stone pattern- red, blue, green, and yellow are the perennial favrouites
 2- draw a comb directly through the spots. This will cause the spots to drag slightly, and develop jagged edges ( see pic above)
 3- For the best effect, curl the pattern as per french curl, but a variant known as "oak leaf" is occasionaly done- see
 4- sprinkle the whole with a fine shower of white

The pattern here is sometimes printed without the curling , or the white spots. However, In my opinion the pattern tends to be less beautiful.

Another version of this pattern uses a rake instead of a comb. The rake is usually given a small wave as it is drawn through the comb.

A third version, somewhat similar, is known as the oak- leaf.  This pattern will be described in a seperate post.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Placard marble paper

This is an exceptionally rare pattern. produced cheifly in 18thc. France and seldom elsewhere,  it is essentially a stone pattern with the colours arranged in rows or a grid. There are severla manners in which the pattern may be made. The one below is my favrouite method, but other methods are mentioned under " notes"
 For this pattern, you need red, yellow, blue and green. These colours were the mainstays of that period, and the pattern is best done in them.

1- cover the bath with red.

2-drop on blue and green in the following fashion- the actual number of sopts per row does not really matter, only that they be tolerably close to one another              
                                                                         B G B G B
( B = blue, G = green)

3- on each drop of blue, place a drop of yellow

4 sprinkle the whole with white

5- curl the pattern. Make the curls about 2 spots wide.

 Some vesions ( including the one in the deridiot encyclopaedia) do not place the yellow drops in the blue drops, but rather place them between the blue and green drops.

If it pleases you, you may draw a comb directly through the pattern at step 4. This causes the spots to form jagged edges. When the pattern is combed, an interesting effect is created.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Git-gel or back and forth

The following pattern is usually refered to its turkish name of gelgit, or gitgel (the turks do not seem to bother which one is used), but was more commonly known as the "back and forth" . It is another of the rarer patterns produced by itself, but a whole lot of other patterns use it as an intermediate step

1- Make a stone pattern. There can be as many or as little colours as you like, but 2-4 are good enough.

2- Draw parallel lines up and down the bath, first across it's length, then it's width.
To quote an old book, this should "split and elongate the droplets of colours", so the spots are now drawn out into lines.

The pattern as it is now is known as a "Gitgel". It can be printes as it is, but it looks a bit plain on it's own, so it is customary to  add a slight shower of white spots . Some books define such a pattern as an "Antique straight" .

Some people run the stylus through the trough only once. you can d
Such a pattern is also done with rakes. Once the rake is passed through the bath, it is shifted slightly, so the teeth of the comb are now between the the tracks it has preiously made. The comb is drawn through it again, and the pattern is complete.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Curl marbled paper

We now commence to the "drawn " patterns. These patterns are stone patterns which have been manupulated by drawing a stylus or comb through them. The smplest of them is the Curl

1- Make a stone pattern. The colours traditionally used were red, yellow, blue, and a fine sprinkle of white

2- Using the stylus, ( a paintbrush handle works) draws spiral shapes through the pattern.
~ Notes ~

A very ingenious method of making these papers quickily is to use a device called the "curl frame" . Basically, is consiists of a series of nails spaced some distance apart , attached to a board or lattice. When you wished to draw the pattern, you placed the frame in the size, and moved it in a spiral. Voilá! Perfect curls every time!

The pattern has been in use for an extremely long time. It was certantly made by the 18thc., and it was made up till the 19thc. Probably one reason why this pattern was invented was as a means of covering up imperfections in a "stone" pattern.  I like to imagine an early marbler, seeing a brush-hair in the bath, and picked it out, and creating a small disturbance in the pattern. To disguise it, he made a series of swirls along the affeacted area, and over the rest of the size to balance it out. And so , my children, that was how the curl pattern came about.... [ NOTE : the above is just a fanciful tale, a just-so story. I have good reason to belive that it contains not agrain of truth in it ]

Saturday, 30 June 2012


The Italian, or Hair-vein

The Italian is just another variety of Stone pattern, Which has white as it's dominant colour. The white is produced by sprinkling on, with a whisk, oxgall diluted with water.
1- Drop on a colour or two ( see below). Do not drop on a lot of colour, as this would prevent the gallwaterfrom spreading well.
2- Using a whisk, Sprinkle on some Gall water ( oxgall + water ). The gallwater should spread,  
and force the colour[s] on the size into fine, hairlike veins. If this does not happen, add     more oxgall.                                                                                 1-   Italian made with blue
Colour combinations
Blue ( see 1)
Red+ blue
Red+yellow+Green+ Blue  ( see 2)
The fineness and eveness of the droplets of colour, are the key factor to the beauty of this pattern. The pattern should look like fine mesh or lace.
 To acheive this finess, you must hold the whisk high above the trough, as this will cause the droplets to fall down as a fine shower on the pattern.

                                                                                                     2- Italian made with many colours

Friday, 29 June 2012

Stone pattern

The Stone
Of all the patterns of marbled paper, this one is the simplest. It simply involves dropping colours on the size, and printing the sheet as it is
 This pattern is also amongst the most versatile. Over the centuries, it has been made in every possible colour combination, and size.
 I should not mention all the colour combinations in which this pattern can be made, as to do so would be both useless and tedious, as ones taste is usually sufficient.However, one version of this pattern is worth mentioning- The English spot
 The Engish spot pattern, as I call it, had a surprisingly long lifespan. examples form the late 17thc. are almost identaical to the ones produced in the late 19thc.

Endpapers of book, late 18thc[?]
1- Drop red on the bath.
2- Drop on some yellow
3- Drop on black
 In later times, the colours were often swirled about randomly at this stage
4- Drop on some Dark green. This colour should have a bit more gall than the other colours.
5- Sprinkle on purple. Do not put a lot of gall into this colour, as the colour should remain in small spots
6- If you please, sprinkle on a shower of fine white spots

You can control the size of the droplets of colour by using various tools. Whisks give very fine drops. artists brushes, larger droplets.
 The last colour applied to a stone pattern is the predominating colour, unless the amounts of colours used vary enormously.

Friday, 1 June 2012

marbling combs- Woolnough's method

The great 19thc. marbler, Charles woolnough, gave us in his book "the whole art of marbling " a method of making combs. The combs produced here can be made very fine indeed, and are of a superior class.
 To make the combs, you must take a, piece of paper as long as you intend to make the comb, and enogh needles to make the comb ( 2 needles per centimeter produce a very good comb)

1-Fold the paper in half.
2- Then,  fold the back the part you previously folded, about 4cm creating an "M" shape in the paper

3- Now, draw a line about 1 cm. from the edge. This line will be folded back to hold the needles in place later. Now, mark off sections on the line, where you want the needles to be.

Stick the needles into the paper, like so.

Once the whole comb has it's needles stuck into it, you fold back the margin of paper that you made in the third step, thus causing the needles to stick out, like a comb. 

Make sure that the needles are straight and stick out evenly form the paper.

( N.B you can make the blunt ends of the needles point outwards- it's your choice)
Usually, as this point, the comb would be secured with a strip of glued paper. However, There is a much more permanent method - HOT GLUE...

Cover a bar of wood in hot glue, and stick the comb in it.

Once the glue has solidified, you can pull the paper away, to reveal a very good comb

Thursday, 31 May 2012

To marble the paper

Now, we have went through all the important preparatory steps , we go on to the actual parocess of Marbling.  If this is your first attempt, start out with a few colours, at most three. Mix them and test them as per;
 Fill your through with size to about 3-6 cm. of size.  Make sure that it is warmish.

 Every time before tou want to marble a sheet, you must "skim"the size, by passing a thin slat of wood, or strip of paper over the surface of the size. This must be done, as the size develops a "skin", ( like in a soup), and this skin will interfere with your colours.

 Drop on your first colour. It should spread out .

 Drop on the second colour. It should spread over the first, and push it into a "vein" ( see the testing stage)

Drop on the third, if you have one.

What you have now made is called a "stone" pattern, due to it's resemblance to the coloured forms in stones like agate.

It is now time to transfer the design to a sheet of paper.

 Take a sheet of paper previously alumed,and hold it by opposite corners.
Lay the sheet ( A) , alumed side down,  on the bath.
This is done by putting the corner nearest to you on the surface of the bath. ( C) Then, let down the other corner (B) in one smooth motion.

The sheet may be removed from the bath. It is then rinsed gently with water, (to remove the size) and left to dry.

The sheet should be placed on a board, set at an angle, to dry. This allows the water and excess colours to run off. This makes the paper look brighter.
 You can then proceed to marble the next sheet, by repeating the above steps. Just remember to skim the size before appling the colours.

Once you have obtained a relative mastery of doing this, you can proceed to more complex patterns. Just remember,
Nothing ventured , Nothing gained!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Preparing and testing the colours

Before the gouaches and watercolours can be used for marbling, they must be diluted, and mixed with Ox-gall. However, if you are using water-based marbling paint , you do not need to dilute them, but simply mix in gall.

1-take a small amount of the gouache/watercolour, and squeeze it into the cup.
2- add in a few drops of gall. Six or so drops is a good starting point, but some colours need more gall than others.

steps 1 & 2
3- mix well with a brush
4- add in water to fill the cup, stirring all the while.

Now, Preparing the colours requires some degree of skill. Some pigmnts ( like the cadmiums and some earths) are dense in nature, and so need to be diluted more. Others, like the platato colours, are light by nature, and therefore need less gall.

Once the colours are mixed, you can begin testing them.

Firstly, "skim "the size. To do this, drag a piece of paper or a slat of wood over the size. This is done to remove the "skin" on the size, ( much like a soup), which will stop the colours from spreading.

Then drop on your first colour. It should spread like this; to a circle about 2-3 inches across

1st colour
The second color you intend to use must have a little more gall than in the first so that it can spread out over the first. 

2nd colour on
Do the same with your third and fourth colours. [if you have them] In either case, the colour should not sink, but spread over the colour previously put on.  Keep this order in mind whan you apply the colours during marbling. 

                                              3rd colour on                                 4th colour on
 There is no fixed amount of gall to be used. Some colours require more than others. However, If you are using HUGE amonts of gall, to no effect, something is amiss. Either
1- Your colours are too thick  - Try watering them down
2- The gall is weak. This is a common problem with gall meant for watercolour. - switch to a diffent brand, or one from a marbling supplier.

 If, however, the colours do not spread much, and you have found that the gall is not the culprit, then there is something wrong with the size.
 3- The size is too thick - Add some water to thin it down
 4- Size too cold- add some hot water
 5- Did you skim the size?

Sometimes, you may find that the colours look grainy on the size. Not to worry, add some drops of alcohol.

Monday, 30 April 2012


The paper used here is very much a matter of what you have available, what you intend to make out of the finished product, and what you can afford. I prefer machine- made watercolour or sketching paper, for it is cheap enough , but thick enough to survive the wetting.  Expensive handmade papers are for most purposes,  a waste of money here,  unless the use that you intend to put the marbled paper to forces you to utilise this paper.  The reason for this is because expensive sheets may be spoilt by an errant air- bubble or similar fault.
Another thing the marbler must take note of is the fact that some of the papers on the market are heavily buffered against acid. This is a disadvantage to the marbler, for the alum is mildly  acidic in nature , and the buffered paper would neutralise the alum, and as a result, render it useless.
Because of the alum, marbled paper is, naturally, a bit acidic, but let that not worry you, because most purposes so not require such a level of acid-freeness, and besides, I posses samples of marbled paper from 1851, which are as clean and bright as ever, and the book to which they are attached shows no sign of deterioration.
Also, avoid the shiny or overly sized papers, for, they  would reject the alum, and the colours.
However, I can only do so much. You must experiment  to find the best sort.

The paints

The paints used for marbling fall mainly into two categories, watercolours/gouaches and acryllics. Acrylics are more often used today, as they are waterproof , and can be used to marble fabric. However, watercolours are simpler to use, and give a wider range of patterns .
 Some paints work better for marbling than others. For example, one paint may spread uncontrollabaly, another would refuse to spread at all, and some others may be very pale.
 Generaly, the best paints to use are artist's watercolours ( as opposed to student's watercolours), or gouaches ( Gouache is simply a opaque watercolour) . These paints give more consistent results, and are less likely to fade. Brands like Windsor & Newton's are of the highest quality, but are very expensive. The next best type would be Daler-Rowney's designer's gouache . This paint is quite cheap, and produces decent results.

 However, even within the same brand, diffrent pigments behave in very diffrent ways. Some spread like mad, and dominate the paper ( like phlatato blue), others are heavy and dense, refusing to spread  much. To make matters even more confusing, companies may change the paint formula, thus making a previously good paint useless.

To that end, I shall furnish you with a list of colours that have been known to work. The following list is but a guide, and more colours can be introduced to please the fancy

Yellow Ochere

 red earth
cadmium red
alizarin crimson

prussian blue
phlatato blue

A mixture of phlatato blue and yell. ochere
phlatato green

ivory black
 note; a little prussian blue phlatato blue or indigo can be mixed into the black to make it denser
burnt umber
burnt ocher

 Other colours, like orange and purple, can be created by mixing the appopriate colours.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Combs for marbling

pair of combs ( L and R), and a rake ( center)

A comb, as its name implies, is a series of wires, set at equal distances to each other, in a piece of pasteboard or wood, like a comb used for hair. A rake is essentially a comb in which the teeth are spaced more than an inch apart. The combs and rakes are essential for the making of some patterns.
There are several methods of making combs. Here is the method I use;

You would need a piece of cardboard, about the thickness used for book covers ( A) , & hairpins ( B)
after marking off the sections between the teeth , slot the hairpins into the piece of cardboard , along the markings, like so;

another view
Repeat the process along the length of the cardboard.

Then,making sureb that all the needles are alagined properly, and all protrude the same distance,  tape the structure with duct tape to secure it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Trough and assorted equipment

Equipment for marbling
Bath, or trough-  .  A tray, the size of the paper you intend to marble, but with a margin of a few inches around. Seed trays have been used, and so have enamelled roasting tins, or photographic hypo tins. The tray has to be more than an inch deep
trough, in situ, half fill'd with size

Pots-  little porcelain pots, at are necessary for holding the colour for marbling. The size of the pots depends on the amount of paper you marble, larger amounts needing larger pots. The pots must be at least 5cm across , 3 cm deep, but  teacups work very well too. You need one for each colour you intend to use.
Eye- droppers. ( A) The eyedroppers are indispensable for laying on the colour, as they are the most straightforward method to do so.
eyedroppers, brushes, stylus
Bushes, ( B) are generally made of hog-hair. (but horsehair was used in former times , and sometimes used today). they are used to sprinkle the colours on the bath, and mix them around. You need one for each colour.
Stylus .( C ) A knitting needle , or some other such implement. Should be about 3-4 mm thick .  paintbrush handles are good if there is nothing else.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


alum, in powder ( left) and lump ( right) form
Alum is the third most important substance in marbling, after the gall and the size. It makes the colours adhere to the paper.
 Marbling on tragacanth does not requore alum  but the paper must be dampened slighly to accept the colour. The reasons behind this I have not been able to find out,( but it might, historicaly have something to do with the fact that the paper used being more absorbent). However, marbling on Carrageen requires the substance to be dissolved in water, and sponged on the paper.  The process imparts some degree of acidity to the paper .  As a result, some binders tend to avoid them. However, for odinary uses, the acidity is negligable.
There are two kinds of alum , potash alum (potassium aluminium sulfate), or just plain alum ( aluminium sulafte). Both work well.

Take a heaped tablespoon of powdered alum , and dissolve it in a cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve. ( this has a tendency to heat up the water, so be careful) .
Now, take the sheets of paper you intend to marble, and mark the side you do not want to marble with a pencil. This helps you distinguish which side to lay on the size.

Soak a sponge in alum, and apply it to the side that is not marked. Lay it flat to dry.

The paper can be marbled when it is dry, or slightly moist.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


The most vital substance in marbling is Ox-gall. It is the bile juice of an ox, but the bile of any animal can be used ( even fish-bile)
  Yes, it sounds absolubely Disgusing,  but it really is not . It is just a fluid, ranging from dark brown to near colourless , which sometimes smells bitter.

The gall's effect is twofold
I) it makes the colours spread. The more gall is added, the more it spreads.
II the gall has this wonderous property , that is, no matter how much the colours are manupulated on the size, they would not mix.
 For example, if you drop on yellow, and then blue, the colours would stay seperate. if you take a stylus, and draw it through them, they would still remain distinct.

The primary principal regarding gall is this. More gall makes the colours spread more, but also makes them paler. Each sucessive colour applied needs more gall than the last. (however, some colours may need more gall than others.  )

 The gall also differs in strength. In my experience, the darker sort is generally stronger.What one type of gall does with a tablespoon , another can do with six drops.

The gall that us sold in art shops is passable, But some is so weak as to be of no use at all. Therefore, if you have tried all kinds of gall, and none work satisfactorily, order some from a marbling suppler, like Iris nevins or Colophon

If you are so daring as to attempt to obtain the gall "fresh from the cow", I shall give you some instructions .

Take the gallbladders of any animal, preferably a cow/ox. they may be bought from a butcher, or slaughterhouse. the cost for them is slight, if not nonexistent, as the gall is considered waste. The baldders MUST have the fluid within them- this is the gall that we want

Now, puncture the galls, and let them drain into a vessel. Add to this alcohol, about a quarter of it's volume. let the fatty matter settle from it, and then strain it. After a bit of ageing [ if you wish to do so]  it may be used.

I have successfully prepared the gall of chickens in this manner, but the gall was a bright green in colour!

There are alternatives to gall. However, they are mostly an apolology to the real stuff.

 The first of them is photographic wetting agent. It is primarlay used on acrylics, as the stuff that comes from the cow is too weak. The sollution is used watered down, as it is too strong neat. In my experience, ( using it with watercolours) it is quite unpredictable, and difficult to control. The colours sometimes spread out uncontrolabaly, or fail to spread altogether.

The second class are preparations of soap. They have generally included washing up detergent, and solutions of soap. Their expanding power is often stronger than gall, but it comes at a price. Firstly, the colours tend to have fuzzy edges if you use too much of it.
The second is rather curious. The colours, when mixed with a large amount of the solution, tend to go all stringy and goopy after a while.

The solution ( which I shall discuss in greater deatil under "italian" ) is made by dissolving soap in water , sometimes with a quantuty of alcohol added.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The size- other materials

Dried carregean-
  Before the advent of the extract, marblers had to use the genuine , dried carregean moss/algae. it looks like a dried seaweed, brown in colour, and smelling somewhat of the sea.
***** ingredients*****
25 grmas of dried carregean moss (NOT the extract, which is in the form of a powder)
1 tablespoon of borax
I litre of water.

**** Instructions****
1- put the ingredients into a pot  , and heat them over a medium gas flame
2- let it boil for about half an hour. the water should thicken and turn brown.If the mix is thickening well, the bubbles in it should be fine and foamy. if it froths up voilently, or thickens to a syrupy consistency, add some water.
3- once it has reached the appopriate consistencey, let it cool down to room temprature for about 12 hours. Always remember, it is better to make a over-thick size, as you can thin it down, than an overly thin one.
If you so happen to have made an overly thin size, the only cure is to add some thicker size to it

Gum tragacanth-
 The standard marbling size from the begining of marbling to the 19thc. , when carregean was introduced, and still used today in Turkey for ebru , it is a gum extracted form a species of tree.
The size is made thus......
   Procure a large earthen pan, glazed on the inside, capable of holding fron 8 to 12 gallons. put therin about 1 pound of gum tragacanth, and pour upon it about 2 gallons of soft  water. the next morning, stir it well with a birch broom for about 5 minutes; repeat this at  intervals of three or four hours a day, adding more water as it thickens, or absorbs that which was first put to it. in 48 hours, you may first venture to make use of it, though 72 hours would be betterm and I have found some gum which has worked all the better when remainding a week in sollution. [ ......] when your gum is properly dissolved, you must gradgually dilute it with water till it is brought to the proper consistency , whan it must be starined through a hair or muslin sieve.
                         C. W. Woolnough- the whole art of marbling ( 2nd edition, 1881)

Fleaseed/ Psyllium
This material, which is more famous as a digestive aid,  coame in the form of little seeds, which were placed in hot water to extract the mucilage.
Woolnough tells us that the size was made by taking a quarter of a pound of the seed, and pouring on it a gallon of boiling water, and stirring the result fro 10 minutes. Half an hour later, another gallon of boiling water was added, and stirring the mixture occasionaly. The thus thickened liquid, when cooled, was the size.

Woolnough also recomended that this material be mixed into the gum tragacanth for patterns that did not require to be combed or manupulated. like, the shell, spanish, italian, &c. , in a proportion of 1  quart of 1 quart of the fleaseed, to 2 gallons of the latter.


Another one from the health-food store! . This size is prepared in a similar manner to the fleaseed, but in a proportion of 6 tablesoppons of the seed to about a liter of Hot water, which is then heated in a slow cooker. The arrival of the mucilage  is announced when the seeds start sinking, then the water growing cloudy. Once that is done, let it cool

The size has never been in wide use, as the mucliage turns watery after about a day. furtehrmore, the size is very thick, and only very simple patterns may be made on it.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The size - carrageen

The size in the body of fluid that the marbling colours are floated on . It is of a consistency thicker than water, but not too thick. A consistency like that of cooking oil, or olive oil is ideal.  Several sizes were formerly used. However, only one size is used today, by almost all professionals, carrageen moss. 
Carrageen, or Irish moss, is a type of red alga, which releases a sort of jelly-like thing called mulicage when boiled in water.  Now, it used to be prepared by taking the dried moss, and boiling it for up to half an hour with borax and hot water.The  modern marbler need not suffer this, as a extract of carrageen moss is readily avalible. 
To make the size, take ......
1 ounce of the extract, 
1 quart of hot water. 
There are 2 ways of proceeding from hence. 
The more common method involves whirring the ingredinents iin a blender, and the resulting foamy mess is then left to settle overnight .
The second method involves taking the ingredients, and whisking them in a bowl till all the extract is dissolved. In either case, the sollution is left to cool and diluted, till the desired concictency, as it is often found to be too thick . 
The amount of size that you make must be enough to fill your through to a deph of at least three fingers. 
Other sizes were ( and sometimes are) also used, and they will be covered in a subsequent post.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


Since life is a difficult and thorny path
Where toil is the portion of man
We all should endeavour while passing along
To make it as smooth as we can
(On title page of “the mysterious marbler”, one of the early books on marbling)

A great hinderance to marbler today is the lack of information. Aldough literature on the subject today is quite stupendous, There is not one single full-length text on the traditional process of marbling online today.The information on this subject is mainly dispersed in little snippets here and there.  The few manuals that do exist, are very outdated, often centuries old, and even they themselves are parts of larger works on bookbinding.
So , what is marbling?
In it's broadest sense, marbling is the process of decorating paper , cloth and  with a design produced by floating colours on a liquid.
It woud be perhaps of interest here to give a little history here.
It is agreed that the most primitive form of this art is a japanese craft called suminagashi , in which inks mixed with pine-resin are floated on water, and occasionaly swirled around to produce a design
However, a more direct ancestor to the process we are concerned with here originated somewehere in The Ottoman   empire. it later spread to Turkey, where it is known ( and still practiced ) as ebru. The principle remained the same, but the water was thickened with a substance called gum tragacanth. This allowed the colours to be manupulated into more complex designs. The inks were also replaced by gouaches or watercolours mixed with a dispersant ( usually ox-bile) .
The process above was used
The above process,  was used ineurope till the mid 19thc, where a Hugarain, Josef halfer, discovered that carrageenan produced superior results to the gum. The process has changed very little since, excepting the introduction of acrylic colours .
The acrylilc colours have enabled the production of marbled cloth viable for the first time, and the fact that they are waterproof. Unfortunately, acrylics cannot produce some types of marbled paper, so you win some, and lose some.

Enough already! let us start!!!