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Catherine’s unique Marbling technique

Centuries old marbling techniques in Asia, the Middle East and Europe all employ a similar concept of floating ink or paint on water, and then printing a piece of paper or fabric with the floating medium. Because the technique relies on the physics of surface tension, a draft, dust, loose hair, humidity can all effect the results. Skilled marblers have good control over their end product. For me, marbling is a playful, messy process and I enjoy the spontaneity and surprise of how my finished papers look.

To begin, I thicken water with methocellulose and pour this “size” into a shallow pan. I also thin acrylic paints to a milky consistency with distilled water and a drop or two of a photo developing chemical that helps the paint float and disperse. When the size sets, I apply the paint to the size’s surface with eyedroppers or a paint brush splattering technique. Then I manipulate the colors by using tools like a comb or bamboo skewer or by blowing air across the surface of the size.

When ready, I lay a piece of construction or watercolor paper on the surface of the size and the colors transfer. I gently rinse the newly beautified paper with tap water and hang it to dry. Laying a piece of newspaper on the surface of the size cleans any excess paint and the size is now ready for another paint application, another page to print. Once they have dried, I use these papers as they are or cut them into shapes to create landscapes, characters and backgrounds for illustrations.


There are many ways, but here is our kid friendly, shockingly easy version.

Mix together:
1 Tbsp dish soap
¼ to ½ cup water
1Tbsp or so of acrylic or tempera paint (some colors are brighter than others so play around)

  1. Pour some solution into a bowl
  2. Using a straw, blow bubbles until they are over the rim of the bowl
  3. Place paper on top of the bubbles and press down slowly
  4. Lift paper and flip over to see the marbling.
  5. If you like, repeat with other colors on the same sheet of paper to layer the marbling
  6. Get creative! Add cut out paper shapes to create a scene. Glue a photograph on to make a marbled border. Write a story or poem directly onto the marbled paper once dry. Add stamps, stickers, glitter, and more.

* For younger children make sure they blow out through the straw and do not suck in.

* Store extra solution in a lidded container or jar for later use (it will probably be more than you need)