Mindful Art – The Art of Marbling

Marbling originated in Japan in around the twelfth century. Some believe it was discovered by accident by someone in the Japanese imperial family who submerged sumi ink paintings in water, watched the inks float to the surface, then put a piece of paper on the floating ink, lifted it up and preserved the image. This technique was termed suminagashi, or “ink floating.”

Perhaps the most important book on British marbling, “The Whole Art of Marbling” by Charles W. Woolnough provides a detailed account of the methods and materials of the craft of marbling and gives instructions for making approximately thirty traditional and “modern” patterns. In addition, it instructs the reader how to use the completed marbled papers in home decoration and how to marble on cloth.

By the time bookbinders got their hands on these coveted recipes, book production had become automated with machines and fine craftsmanship was not valued over high volume. Marbling became much less popular until the 1970s, when crafts and handmade books emerged and helped renew this old art form.

Today, marbling is going strong with thousands of masters who explore and revitalize the traditional methods, bringing new ideas to this wonderful form of expression.

Why not have a go at this relaxing and mindful art technique for yourself? Find some ambient, meditative music on Youtube such as: ambient music

Get all of your art materials ready….You can purchase a set of marbling inks for this purpose or experiment with a range of inks, paints and oils on top of a basin of clean water.

Using the principle that oil floats on water, marbling can produce spectacular results on a range of surfaces. We experimented here with household cooking oil and watercolour paint. 

Comb the floating ink with a cocktail stick and then gently place paper or any other porous material on top, carefully remove and leave to dry. Mix several different colours to achieve stunningly original designs.

‘Combing the ink’

Relax and enjoy the process…have fun experimenting with colour…

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