Marbling, sometimes called Cloud Painting, is the laying down of acrylic color on a layer of carageenan, a gel made from seaweed.  You then comb and manipulate the color - into wonderful designs and patterns.  You most often see marbled papers on the inside covers of old books - but we use them for boxes, cards. books, notebooks, and journals - and even some origami!  

Here are some scenes from my Marbling Classes, interspersed with some of the patterns we learn:

Originating in China, with inks and subtle designs on water, Suminogashi Marbling creates a delicate image.  Around the 15th Century Turkish Marbling was used for formal papers to prevent counterfeit or tampering, as well as for decorative purposes.  Turkish marbling often has realistic or fantasy figures such as flowers, fish, stars, etc. created by hand drawing in ink or paint.  Many of today's Marbling terms are Turkish, such as Gel Git (To and Fro).  In the following centuries Marbling spread throughout Europe, each country keeping a secretive record within Marbling Guilds.  Techniques were kept secret from the Bookbinders Guilds so the bookbinders could not create the end pieces themselves.  Often apprentices in Marbling were taught only one part at a time over a period of years.  The art was almost lost as very little was written down and the market for marbled papers declined after it became easy to mass produce printed matter.  


 Toward the end of the 19th century  marbles finally began writing down their techniques, procedures, patterns, and methods so the art would not die out completely.  There was very little literature available and the present day marbles had to search out the available resources and create their own techniques.  It was a very good day when we no longer had to boil down, filter, and create our carrageenan from the raw seaweed, Irish Moss, and it became available in powdered form!


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