Marvellous marbling

I’ve been out and about on another of the excellent workshops offered by the delightful Shirley at in Bognor Regis (Sussex, UK) This time I have been experimenting with marbling.  So what is that?  Well it is the colourful swirly effect often seen on the inside of old hardback books, so-called because it resembles the veining found in marble stone.  I have tried this before but with no success and right from the start it was clear why this was – simply not using the right products!  Shirley has set up 3 work stations so we could try out 3 different products, two suited for fabric and one for paper (although I did some experimenting, more of that later).

hanging up

Back in my studio its drying time

The first set up I tried was for marbling on to paper, this is also the simplest method and uses Marabu Easy Marble which is a set of oil based inks which are simply dropped into a bath of water and the paper is then laid over the top, when peeled back the ink has stuck to the paper leaving a vibrant pattern.  The draw back to this method is that it is quite gloopy and this makes it hard to swirl the inks around to get patterns.

bondaweb 1

Marabu Easy Marble ink on Bondaweb

I mentioned earlier that I had a little experiment with the Marabu inks.  I did try them on fabric but it wasn’t a total success and much of the colour vibrancy was lost.  I did however try it again on to some Bondaweb.  The fusible webbing side down on top of the ink picked up the pattern and once dry I ironed it on to a scrap of fabric – sadly the only plain scraps I had to hand were calico, but it worked very well indeed! I am definitely going to try this again and use some lovely white cotton to iron it on to which should help the colours.  I love this, the only drawback it is it is not washable.

bondaweb fabric

Marabu Easy Marble on Bondaweb on calico

The next set to try was the Deka Marbling set.  This is suitable for fabric and can be washed, but it also uses wallpaper paste (Polycell ‘Paste the Wall’) as the carrier for the inks.  Fabric must be washed, dried and ironed before use with marbling inks, this applies to all products, not just Deka. Once the paste size is ready (follow instructions in the kit) inks are dropped on to the surface where they spread out.  Build up different colours one at a time, dropping over and into previous colours using a dropper or toothpick. Once enough colour is added take a comb or toothpick and trace a swirly pattern in the bath to mix up the ink, lay the fabric gently over the surface spreading from the middle outwards taking care not to trap any air bubbles.  Peel back the fabric and Hey Presto!

pink green swirl crop

blue hearts fabric crop

two samples of marbled fabric using Deka marbling inks

The final method uses Jacquard Marbling Paints and something called Methocel.   This method also means that fabric must be washed and then pre-washed/soaked in a solution of Alum (available from the chemist) and then dried and ironed.  There is more preparation involved with this method as in addition to preparing the fabric you also need to prepare the Methocel which will act as the size for gripping the ink.  Once the size is made up, the ink dripping and swirling is exactly the same as for the Deka products.  Both of these methods require that the fabric should be washed off in cold running water immediately after marbling and then allow to dry before ironing to set.

black and blue fabric crop

pink yellow swirl crop

pink satin crop

3 different fabrics marbled using the Jacquard Marbling Paints

In addition to having lots of fun swirling the inks about, I did also experiment with various different weights and types of paper including Tyvek.  The resulting effect was fabulous and then I applied some heat to the Tyvek (to make it bubble a bit) and…. oops!


Tyvek with Marabu Marbling Ink – Before

tyvek 2


Well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men!


About paisleypedlar

Artist, Sewist, sometime Cyclist and Arm Chair Activist
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