Marbling is a method of decorating paper or fabric through the manipulation of floating colours. It is a process whereby colour is applied to the surface of a thickened liquid and fashioned into artistic patterns. Paper or fabric prepared with a mordant is then briefly laid down upon the surface to print. The paint adheres to the paper or fabric upon contact and the design is transferred.
The first known use of marbleizing was in the eighth century in Japan to produce writing paper with delicate designs in the corner. The art progressed to Persia and Turkey and reached Europe in the fifteenth century. It reached its high point in the late nineteenth century art style known as Art Nouveau.
Classic or Turkish marbleizing is done with water-based colours. This method yields vivid patterns, offers many design options and is very easy to clean up. Oil colour marbleizing is easier in the initial preparation but tends to offer a smaller range of effects and is much more difficult to clean up.
For printable instructions, click here.