There are so many varieties of wonderful handmade, hand screened, eco printed, pastepaper, painted, dyed, and marbled papers. Some of the best kinds for boxes and books are strong but flexible, like Texoprint and Chiyogami,  Lighter, more delicate papers can be used for embellishment.  Sources I list here include places to purchase bookboard, PVA, tools, marbling materials, and other paper supplies. 


My go-to for bookboard is Hollanders: a fair price and excellent quality: I like both their Davey Board and Regular Book Board, size .080 or .090.


My go-to for chipboard is Amazon, for lighter or more delicate projects such as the Lotus Box or Jacob’s Ladder.

The beauty of embellishing or creating with chipboard is this weight can be cut with either scissors or paper cutter, not just knives.


This Olfa knife fits in my hand well, although carpet knives from the hardware store work too:


I really like Dick Blick’s snap-off blade knives. Because you can snap off a blade when they get the least bit dull, you always have the safety of a sharp blade that will not rip your board or paper.


Weights are essential in paper arts.  I use everything from my grandma’s heavy metal flatiron, to heavy books as a weight.  Wrapping a small brick with either cloth or paper works well; filling a small cloth pouch with sand or shot is a good idea.  I recently repurposed those sturdy Amazon gift card boxes by filling them with a 1pound diving weight and then gluing them shut -  pretty and functional.  Another fun one was acquiring several Beanie Babies, snipping a hole in the bottom and filling with a 1 pound weights and then sewing it back up, but they don’t always sit the way you need them to - sure are cute though! But my favorites include the 1-2-3 Block and 1 to 5 pound diving weights:

The 1-2-3 Block works well when you are making a box and need something to prop up the sides until they dry - you know you are getting a good solid 90 degree angle.



After years of searching for the perfect ruler, I found this fabulous aluminium 18” ruler at Dick Blick. I like it for several reasons: it starts at zero on the very end, it is 1 1/2” wide, which means I can use it as a template whenever I need to cut or mark at 1 1/2”, and it has a unobtrusive anti slip backing so it is much more likely to stay in place as you cut or measure. The 18” size is great for cutting or marking larger pieces of paper or board, but not so large I am hitting myself in the head with it.

Clear Quilting rulers are wonderful as well - because they are see through plastic, it is simple to measure and mark on either paper or board.

I have some favorite squares, which I use most often to check to make sure corners on board, boxes and papers are as square as they can be. 

Triangle, 3”, metal

Triangle, 8” , 30/60/90, metal


Claudia Squio has made some absolutely brilliant tools - take a look at her site. She has some box making corner tools that are very cool, but my favorite tool is her 3/4” wide mitering tool. You can not only cut a mitered corner easily but you can use the tool to measure the requisite 3/4” around the board you are going to cover with paper. Not essential, but a really nice tool to have:


 Two of my favorites that help keep my desk, if not neat, at least neater:

Actually meant to be a spoon holder, but nicely holds bone folders, pens, and cutting tools:

Where’s Your Nest Organizer:

Small Art supplies organizer with drawers


Bone folders can be found everywhere from WalMart to a colorful and decorated style at Hollanders. They all work, so select one that feels good in your hand and maybe pleases your eye as well.  A special treat are the Teflon bone folders, which don’t make a shiny spot on book cloth an come in a variety of useful shapes.


Awls come in a wide variety of styles and sizes.  You need ones that feel good in your hand, but you also may need several different styles and sizes as you will be punching holes for many different purposes.  At the very least you will need one heavy duty and one finer awl. Don’t forget to check out Japanese Screw Punches as well!

Here are some good ones:

GREAT for putting holes in signatures - thin and strong

Better for making holes in bookboard, thicker, feels good in your hand:

Another awl that fits your hand well, with a rounded ball wooden handle, great for boxmaking especially as it is much thicker, but still sharp:


I generally use waxed Linen Threads from Royalwood ltd.  They have an amazing array of different colors and sizes of thread. Really good people to deal with also.

You can get shorter lengths of Waxed Linen in a wide variety of colors on Etsy. And Amazon, John Neal, Talas, and Hollanders carry a wide variety of colors and thicknesses.


These #1 needles from Hollanders are my favorites - a larger eye so threading is easy. But they have some others on their website that are also good, including some curved needles so handy for coptic bindings.




In Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the richest sources of materials for paper arts and bookbinding, as well as marbling and cartonnage - great tools, papers, PVA, bookboard, bone folders. They also have a terrific, inclusive website and are very helpful if you have questions. They used to have a marvelous school and storefront, but now have a marvelous online presence for all your paper arts needs.


Wonderful source for paper arts, bookbinding, as well as paints, brushes, and surfaces of all kinds - great papers too! Good online presence but if you can get to one of their stores, go!


Drool worthy catalog of gorgeous Japanese papers, over 2,000 in their catalog, plus a great stock of Origami papers as well, full of great information. Wholesale only, but worth visiting for their online catalog.  Based in Canada.

Their retail site is  The Paper Place, also in Canada.


Owner Linda Marshall stocks over 200 chiyogami papers and 100 katazone-shi papers, as well as opaque, dyed, natural, and tissue weight papers.  Washi Arts carries an extensive selection of Japanese papers from the Japanese Paper Place and offers fast affordable domestic shipping in the United States. In addition to a terrific blog, Washi Arts carries “an extensive range of the finest Japanese papers, tools and supplies for bookbinding, calligraphy, printmaking, graphic design, paper conservation and repair, book arts, letterpress printing, packaging and mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) as well as all types of creative projects and businesses. An impressive site! 


Excellent service and creative marketing makes Mulberry Paper and More stand out as a source of paper arts suppies.  Catch their studio tour on You Tube! They carry a wide variety of lovely papers including Mulberry, Washi, Lokta, Marbled, Indian, and more, as well as a link to projects and a gallery full of info and inspiration.



A great source of everything magnetic, including a terrific variety of thin rare leather magnets in disks and rectangles. Perfect for latches for both boxes and books. I like the 3/16th” diameter discs, 1/16” thick. They also send a newsletter via email full of interesting articles about the ways magnets work and unusual ways to use them. They even have a large hook magnet that is incredibly powerful, sticking to metal doors and other metal places to hold things like Wreaths, framed art, and more.


A good source of Neodymium Magnets.


More thin but powerful magnets for boxes and books.



Everything from tools and materials, books, and DVD’s, class listings, calligraphy heaven!


Wonderful site for tools, conservation and archival supplies, bookbinding supplies, book cloth, etc.


The optimal  supplier of art supplies, papers, pens, paints, surfaces, brushes, and tools.


Lacey, Washington 98503/ 360-459-2940

Owner Nancy Morains sold Colophon a few years ago to a young bookbinder/bookartist Mary Uthuporo, who relocated the business from Washington State to Bloomington, Indiana. Colophon Book Arts has a remarkable website, full of treasure for book artists.  Great service, fine prices, terriic tools and treasures for traditional European Marbling and suminagashi as well.


An amazing website with  inspiration and materials for bookbinding, metalsmithing, glss and soft soldering, eyelets, rivets, snaps, and washers, jewelry making, storage, books and videos, leatherwork and great tools throughout! Frequent sales, as well as an intriguing newsletter.  The owner, Christine Cox, is an amazing creative artist and writes  a useful and inspiring blog as well. 


Galen Berry has paints, tools, marbling kits, Texoprint paper at reasonable prices, with a terrific and beautiful website.  405-949-1239

Heidi Richenbach Finley, who is based in Michigan, not only teaches classes in marbling, but as an active artist herself, has created a line of paints and other marbling supplies, including a great kit - worth looking at!  Her colors are vibrant and her manual is excellent.  Look for her on YouTube as well, and her Etsy website for marbling supplies ,


Ali Manning’s Vintage Page Designs website and Blog has created a whole community of paper arts enthusiasts.  Each Thursday she conducts a FaceBook Live and either teaches a new skill to book artists such as Ecoprinting, PastePaper, Paperfolding, and Zentangles or conducts classes about the business of paper arts,  conducts interviews with artists who are doing interesting and unusual work,or introducing a cool bookbinding project.  She has developed a wonderful BookClub as well, with some free classes, free tutorials, You Tube videos, as well as a subscription membership with monthly book making videos, challenges, virtual meet-ups, retreats, a dedicated Facebook site and much more,  Worth investigating for Ali’s detailed and beautifully presented tutorials as well as the kind and welcoming community of fellow bookbinders and paper artists.


CLAUDIA SQUIO has absolutely wonderful box kits of all kinds, as well as terrific tools for cartonnage - not to mention her well written and helpful text she has written.  She works mainly with fabric over board and has some lovely journals as well as boxes.  She sells her kits and tools on her website and her online videos are inspiring,  She has a Cartonnage Club with all kinds of terrific bonuses and benefits, which you can join by monthly subscription, as well as monthly projects and retreats. She herself is a creative inspiration, a true cheerleader for the creative fun to be had with Cartonnage.

Links to some of my favorite fabulous paper artists:

Karen Elaine Thomas

Her designs rock, her books and DVD are classics - the best written directions for origami I have seen, plus the most interesting creations. Be sure to look at her YouTube Channel!

Joan Michaels Paque

Prepare to be dazzled and inspired - she was outstanding as both an artist and instructor.

Kristi Warren at Handmade Books and Journals

Prepare to be dazzled by the incredible amount of information she shares - Tutorials for almost every kind of book or journal, both written and video. Sign up for her video tutorials. They are well done and  imaginative with excellent instruction.  here is the YouTube link to her channel:

A truly remarkable resource. She also sells her journals on

Scrapbookers Anonymous - Facebook and YouTube

Marilyn creates wonderful videos on her Facebook site, then posting them on her YouTube site.  

Her store is in Canada, her humor warm and positive, her ideas and willingness to share techniques and information awesome!  Best place to get an idea of what she does is on Facebook to see her Facebook Live videos and images of cards and projects.

Sue Zajac, Alaskan Artist and Marbler

Interesting website, marbling book for sale as well as cards and other works.

Sue marbles with watercolors, does lots of cool and interesting over marbling! 

Brilliant COLOR!

Two wonderful YouTube videos:


Ali Manning, Book and Paper Artist Extraordinaire, has wonderful tutorials and a very useful and practical list of tips for measuring and cutting book board.  While you are there, take a look at her excellent blog, Vintage Page Designs:

Ali also has an outstanding online Blook Club, teaching a different binding every month.  She has done a remarkable job of building a community of learners, using a series of teaching videos that are remarkable in their scope and content, live online Q & A monthly sessions, warm and constant enthusiasm and support, plus a worldwide netowrk of fellow binders, with a shared inspiration gallery and Facebook page for sharing, questions, ideas, extensions, and problem solving, as well as weekly emails filled with information and extensions of the class.  She opens up membership periodically, Check out her website!


2022 Blog Post, Sievers School of Fiber Arts, Washington Island,

2021 Online Interview and short class, Origami Folded Box/Card, Vintage Page Designs

2020 Online Interview with Ali Manning,  Zoom Full Day Workshop, Handmade Book Club

2013 Article in the Peninsula Pulse: Sharing a Passion for Paper

2016: An Ageless Art Form: Nancy Akerly and Paper Marbling

2015: Rhinelander School of the Arts, newspaper Article





Marbling Tray: A shallow cookie sheet (11 1/2 x 17 1/4 standard) oran 11 x 14 acrylic box frame work well for 9 x 12 papers. If you work with larger papers use a tray that is 2 or 3 inches longer and wider than the paper or fabric you use.

Rinsing Tray: You will need another surface the same size as your marbling tray to take to the sink and rinse.

Stir Stick or Stylus: a chopstick, a 3/4 inch dowel, or a skewer

Combs: a piece of wood or sturdy cardboard 1/8 inch narrower than the width of your tray, with pins glued at regular intervals such as every 5 ml or 8-10 ml.

You can also purchase fine tooth combs with double rows of pins.

Rakes: a piece of wood or sturdy cardboard 2 inches shorter than the length of the tray, with nails every 2 inches. A double or Peacock Rake has two rows of

alternating nails.

You can make both combs and rakes from hair picks stuck though lengths of dry wall corners, available at hardware stores. Corrigated cardboard is also a good substitute and will be sturdy enough to glue pins in place.

Brushes: I use whisks made of broom straw. I prefer plastic because it does not mold or drop flecks of straw into the size as I work. Natural broom straw can

also be used however. Gather the broom straw into small bundles and secure one end with a rubber band. You will need one brush for each color of paint.

Eye Droppers or Pipettes: Another good way to apply color, especially in large trays, the advantage being a more exact placement of color, as well as very useful for Ebru or Turkish representational marbling.

Both Galen Berry and Heidi Finley have fairly inclusive marbling kits. I buy my rakes, combs, carrageenan, alum, gall, brushes, and paints from these reputable sources. Hollanders also has marbling supplies. I buy Utrecht paints from DickBlick when I mix my own paints.

Paper: There are many papers that marble well. I use Texoprint papers, which is made in Wisconsin by the Neenah Paper Company, but I purchase it from Galen Berry at his site online. Other papers are available from sites like MarblingSupplies, Heidi Finley’s Etsy site, as well as from online sources like

Dick Blick and Hollanders, among others. Arches Textwove paper works well, as do some Japanese papers. Coated or buffered papers do not work well, as thepaints slips right off. Watercolor papers, Rice paper, Masa, and lokta papers give your work a lovely texture. Any paper that can withstand getting wet without shredding, wrinkling, or curling would be a good bet. Using colored papers is interesting - Tru Ray Construction paper in various colors works surprisingly well.

Fabric, Etc.: Marbling on fabric is similar to marbling on paper. Cotton blends and silk marble beautifully. I buy mine from Dharma Trading Company. I always

wash the fabrics first to remove any sizing. You can also marble on wood, pottery, mat board, cardstock, and other surfaces, although the techniques are a bit different. A good supply of both cotton and silk on which to marble is available from Dharma Trading Company,

Paints: You can purchase premixed Marbling Paints from Heidi Finley and Galen Berry, among others. See the resources page for their info. You can also mix

color dense acrylic paint with water, such as Golden Paints or Utrecht Artists Acrylics. Start with one part paint to 1/2 part water and keep adding until it stirs like heavy cream. Then try it out on your carrageenan size and adjust the amount of water. The amount will vary with both brand and colors within the brand. You will need to test, play, and try until you find what works best for you. For a beginner, I recommend either Heidi’s or Galen’s paints. They have a wide array of gorgeous colors, all ready to stir and use.

When you start to marble, place an inch or so of paint into a clean jar. You will need a different jar for each color. You need to use your broom straw brush to stir each and every time you pick up the jar to use. Really. Each and every time, no exceptions!

Alum: (aluminum sulfate) Marbling alum is used as a mordant, holding the paint on the paper so it does not wash off. Mix 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of warm

water. Stir well. Then apply with a wet to damp sponge on the side without the x or your initial, horizontally, then vertically, covering the whole surface of the paper. Let dry to damp or drier stage. Place under a sheet of cardboard or a board with a weight on it so it lies flat until you are ready to marble.


The Size: You can use either Methyl Cellulose or Carrageenan as the size for your tray. I like Carrageenan because it gives a crisper image and more brilliant

color, although I know marblers who swear by Methyl Cel. It is considerably less expensive than Carrageenan. Carrageenan, or Irish Moss, is a kind of seaweed, processed into a white powder, then mixed with water in a blender. For one gallon, I put 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons powdered carrageenan into my blender. I then fill the blender container with water from a gallon jug (depending on the mineral content of your water, you may use tap water or distilled water) Blend on high for one full minute, then add to the remaining water in the gallon jug. Shake briskly and let it settle overnight to calm the bubbles. It will be ready to use in the morning. If you don’t have that kind of time to let it rest, you can use it in a shorter time, but will need to be sure to skim it repeatedly to rid the bath of air bubbles. I use a half gallon to fill my 12 x 14 tray. As you marble you may find that you may need to regularly refill your tray to replace the carrageenan you have washed off when you rinsed your papers.

I hope you find these resources useful. Have fun - marbling is full of potential: traditional patterns from the 1700’s, suminagashi from 1000 years ago from Japan, classic Ebru, Cloud Painting, from Turkey, modern innovations from places like China River Marblers - unlimited potential! There are wonderful classes at folk schools, paper arts centers and Book Arts Centers. Or come and take a class with me!Explore and enjoy!

Nancy Akerly

Liberty Grove Paper Arts

Liberty Grove Paper Arts

Sister Bay, Wisconsin 54234


Spinning Top

Super Cool Fold of the Week

Origami Cup

Origami Crane

Paper Balloon

Paper Wreath/Shooting Star

Masu Box with Lid


Folding Box, a few small different folds, but essentially the same

Origami rose

Simple box

Purse Envelope

© Nancy Akerly 2023