Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wet and wild: my first crack at marbling paper

I spent Saturday afternoon playing with ink and water. The end result? Gorgeous marbled papers.

I singed up for the workshop - my first attempt at marbling - because I thought the paper might make an interesting addition to collages as backgrounds or, well, who knows what else? I often use antique marbled end papers in pieces and still have a huge stash of it but was itching to try my hand at it.

We dabbed, swirled and rinsed as workshop leader Janice Kagermeier took us through the basic techniques of Suminagashi - an ancient Japanese marbling method. The ink is dropped onto water - just plain old tap water - and spreads across the surface.

The "spread" depends on the ink - some go further than others. The patterns are created by delicately dropping more ink inside the first drop and so on in concentric circles. It's a process that can be meditative and by working with a brush in each hand, you get a bit more control.

We used Japanese inks made just for the purpose and Janice brought along inks NOT to use (they sink to the bottom of the water, create faint patterns or mushy ones). The ink can be manipulated into patterns by blowing on it, cutting through it, fanning it, etc. A neat trick: rub the wooden end of a brush against your face to pick up oil, then, dip the end into the ink to create a clear space where the original paper will show. A "resist" method new to me! You can see how it worked on the paper on the top left; the white areas were created this way.

Each pattern is unique. Unlike other marbling methods, there is less control over the ink, which makes it endlessly fascinating - or frustrating, depending on your temperament. We also experimented with a variety of papers, noting what they were on the back for future reference.

The "workshop" was actually the monthly Study Group meeting of the Cincinnati Book Arts Society. I'm a member of the group, and while I have yet to fully embrace book making, I learn a lot from the meetings. We'll see where these papers turn up ...

At the end of the session,
I dipped two strips of paper into opposite ends of the bin
- and came up with radically different patterns and softer colors.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome~! Now I really want to do this.