Mucking with Marbling

I want to marble in order to make end papers for my miniature books, but also because the art is ancient and just plain amazing (check out ebru on YouTube to see why!).  I’ve done a bit of mucking about with it, trying different paints and papers.  My main problem is that prep has to be done up to 24 hours beforehand, which is very non-spontaneous for an artist.

Here’s J dropping in colours.  Using a mixture of carageenan and water (this is the part that has to be done ahead of time) you make thick water that will float acrylic paints on the surface.  Start by dropping in a lot of colour – we found the more paint the better to make a nice bright pattern.

Once the palette is laid out, you use the brush or pointy tools to push it around and make fantastically detailed patterns.  We experienced varying degrees of success.  The first paper to go into the pan worked fairly well, coming out unsmudged and very bright.  Successive pages were mired down by leftover paint.  This was probably made worse by the fact that the water wasn’t very deep because I only had a litre of the carageenan mix.

Papers are treated with alum to make the paint stick.  You might be able to see that different kinds of paper worked better.  The second down on the left has a lot of blank holes, and it smeared.  The bottom right page smeared badly in the top corner and I don’t know why.

I find the patterns mind bending!  I can certainly use these results in my books, though in some cases it will be a shame to cut them up.

Anemone

I find flowers difficult to paint. They’re soft and exact all at the same time.  They are naturally random in their groupings yet composition is terribly important in a floral work. In this painting, the colourful, wet in wet background inspired some slap dash haste, but my major trepidation so came from those graceful translucent anemones.

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Recovering the Manuscript

I picked up an old miniature book on Scottish castles for next to nothing because the cover had been torn off.  I couldn’t replace the plaid silk to return this book to its former glory, but I did have a set of end papers from the 1700s that had been kicking around my paper collection for a few years.  The paper predates the book by a few decades but it looks sharp and makes the book usable and handsome.  Time for a little read!