Hobbyhandig 242 – Water Marbling
Create enchanting patterns with Marbling paint
New in our range: Water Marbling Paint!
What is Water Marbling?
Paper marbling has been an artistic and cultural art form throughout Central and East Asia since the 12th century. By treating a container of water with a special medium, you can thicken the surface just enough to use lightweight acrylic paint or ink to dip and swirl enchanting patterns directly onto the surface.
This enchanting technique is as fun to watch as it is to do. After creating your marble pattern, simply dip and pull away your chosen backing to reveal your unique design.
One of the fascinating things about water marbling is that no two designs will be the same. Since water marbling is a monoprinting process, each print you make will be completely unique. The surprise and unique quality of each design adds to the mystique of this age-old art form.
Suminagashi or "ink floating" is the Japanese art of marbling paper believed to have originated around the 12th century. Traditionally made in black and white, these papers closely resemble the patterns found in natural stone and are used to decorate the house or bind books.
Suminagashi paper is made by using oily black ink called sumi ink and dipping it into water with a calligraphy or sumi brush. Artists dip the ink into the bath to create a series of concentric circles, then gently blow over the surface of the water to create delicate swirling patterns. Nowadays, contemporary suminagashi artists can use inks of different colours, although many still use black and white. Water marble artists will also use acrylic paint and a brush to mimic the suminagashi style "bullseye" pattern in their own prints.
Ebru is the ancient Turkish art of water marbling that originated in the Ottoman Empire. Turkish paper, which was mainly used as an art form, was highly valued by other countries for its beauty and uniqueness. Marbled paper from Turkey was so popular that all marbled paper was called "Turkish paper".
Patience and a good knowledge of traditional culture are hallmarks of ebru masters. Turkish marbled paper was often used to decorate books and for official correspondence. The uniqueness of each piece of marbled paper acted as a signature and helped ensure the authenticity of a document.
Ebru artists use brushes of horsehair and natural earth pigments to create these intricate and colourful patterns, and this ancient art form is still a prominent part of Turkish culture.
Water marbling today
While you can still find ebru artists in Istanbul creating ornate patterns and artists in Japan creating the soothing swirls of suminagashi, water marbling has also expanded to a variety of modern surfaces and purposes. Whether for shoes, scarves or even their nails, the art of water marbling is growing and the only limitation is your imagination.
How does Water Marbling work?
With DecoArt's Marbling paint, you can get started right away.
The first step for any new project is deciding what you want to marble. Almost any absorbent or porous surface can be marbled. Paper and wood are good substrates for beginners, as are natural fibres such as cotton and silk. If you want to marble other surfaces, you can also use our Surface Prep to help the paint adhere. This is great for glass, plastic or anything else you want to try marbling. Most surfaces can be marbled with the right preparation. Next, you need to make your marble bath. You want to make sure your water marble bath is deep enough to submerge the item you are marbling.
Prepare the marble water
Mix DecoArt's Magic Medium with water in a container. The Magic Medium increases the density of the water and allows our Water Marbling Acrylics to float on the surface.
The marbling water or "size" as it is also called, can be prepared in advance and stored covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. An empty plastic (milk) can is perfect for this purpose. If you use distilled water, it will keep even longer. There are many traditional techniques used in marbling water. You can choose to start with one of these techniques or experiment and find your own style.
How to make a pattern of water marbling?
- Shake the paint bottle gently before use to ensure it is well mixed.
- Remove the plastic inner seal from the drip tip.
- Hold the bottle ± 2-5 cm above the water surface, if you drop paint from too high, it may sink through the water.
- Lightly squeeze the bottle to drop paint drops onto the water.
- Watch the colour drops spread to create shapes.
- Note: the first drops of colour you add spread the furthest and may seem to disappear, but they are still there!
- Colours can be added next to or on top of each other.
- The paints will begin to press against each other and you will see a pattern begin to emerge.
- Try manipulating colours with a marble stick, brush, comb, rake or other tool. Even household objects such as toothpicks can be used.
- TIP: When the paint droplets stop spreading, the water bath is too saturated. If you add more paint, it may sink, so time to make a print!
Once you're happy with your pattern, it's time to make your first print!
Hold the edges of the paper at opposite ends and gently bend it upwards so that the paper forms a "U" shape.
Carefully place the centre of the paper in the water and slowly drop the edges you are holding onto the bath so that the whole paper floats on the surface.
Grasp the top edge of the paper and slowly pull the paper away from the surface of the water.
Hang your paper or lay it flat to dry.
You can use the marbling water for multiple prints. Simply use a new sheet of paper to remove excess paint from the surface of your water bath.
Or watch the video tutorials below:
Water marbling patterns
When the paint falls gently onto the surface of the marble bath and expands, it forms a circle called the stone. When several stones are made, it is called the stone pattern. The stone pattern is the basis for many other water marble patterns, but it can also look beautiful on its own.
To create the stone pattern, carefully drop the paint onto the marbling bath. This process is often called "stone throwing". You can drop other colours of paint into existing stones to create layers of colour. Paint can be dripped directly from a bottle or you can use a stylus, toothpick or brush use to dip paint into the marble water. As you drop more paint, the circle gets bigger.
Zigzag or Gelgit pattern
The gelgit pattern is another starting point for many watermark patterns. The term "gelgit" translates to "coming and going" in Turkish and this pattern is also called back and forth or zigzag pattern.
Follow the steps below to create a gelgit pattern.
- Make a stone pattern or drop paint as you like until the bath is a filled. In the above design, the artist first dropped paint in colour lines in rainbow order.
- Once you have your base, draw parallel lines up and down through the water marble pool with a rake or a water marble stick (also called a stylus).
After creating a gelgit pattern, many artists will go through it with a comb or other tool to create an even more intricate design. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
The pattern of the bows is similar to the pattern of gelgit, except that you pull your stick through it in the same direction each time. This results in delicate arches and is a popular look in both ancient and modern prints.
To make the arc pattern:
- Start with a gel git base.
- Draw parallel lines down through the water marble pool with a rake or a water marble stick.
- This pattern can be done on top of other patterns to create a complex design or left alone.
Swirls (swirls or fantasy marble) is a modern and free-form technique. To make swirls, you drag a marble stick slowly in a winding motion through a pool of paint.
A water marble pattern made with a marble stick This kind of marbling can be very liberating, just follow your intuition to manipulate the water. You can start with stones, gelgit or any other type of pattern before spinning.
A more complicated marble pattern, the flower pattern incorporates the use of a marble stick or stylus to manipulate the paint to resemble a flower. This pattern is popular in ebru art.
Start by dropping paint to make a stone in the water. You can use the same colour or multiple colours, depending on how you want your flower to look. Next, dip the marble stick outside the circle into the water and gently drag it to the centre of the circle before removing the stick. Wipe the stick with kitchen paper and repeat until you have the desired number of petals. Marble sticks can be used in this way to make different shapes such as hearts, flowers, fish and more. Experiment and see what you can create.
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