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  The few manuals that do exist, are very outdated, often centuries old, and even they themselves are parts of larger works on bookbinding.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!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment