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Some quirks, rants, and solid-gold design discoveries

Marbled and True

Beautiful hand-dipped paper  from Thailand

Beautiful hand-dipped paper from Thailand

Paper marbling, a 2014 trend that took Pinterest by storm. Everywhere you looked was a DIY tutorial for how to make something look marbled, marble contact paper, marble laptop covers, marble jewelry. It was a full-fledged takeover. At the time I was working at Paper Source in Queen Anne, WA and as it goes, the notorious Queen Anne moms were all over this stuff. Soon we were hosting DIY marbled paper tutorials and trying to cover any scrap of paper in this strange, psychedelic pattern. 

As it turns out, this trend has since fizzled out and been replaced by perhaps more glitter, velvet, wood, unicorns, rose gold, or whatever else is #trending in the craft circles. Marbling though is not a new concept, in-fact the history is pretty fascinating. The origin story is uncertain, simply because it seems that it was discovered by both the Chinese and Japanese around the same time during the 12th century. Paper has existed for over 2,000 years, but the idea of dying and manipulating paper for decor was frivolous and unnecessary. Soon however, individuals saw the potential of this new discovery, and it became a valuable tool for art and literature as it could take ordinary paper and easily create a more unique design. 

The Japanese described their method of marbling as Suminagashi, or "ink floating." This translation refers to their method of creating the design. A shallow tray was filled with water and then the thin inks were carefully dropped on the surface. The inks would spread over the surface of the water and then manipulated with a brush. Eventually it progressed so that they would use bamboo to blow on the ink to create a "target" with the inks and the results would be beautiful and unique.

An  example  of the blowing technique

An example of the blowing technique

Eventually these ideas moved west and soon Turkey, India, and Persia had their own version of paper marbling known as Ebru. This method involved using oil and water and more opaque inks to create more vivid results. The patterns and styles became more and more intricate as the craft progressed and the results are stunning. Eventually these patterns would become more recognized in those hard-cover books, usually leather-bound and gold embossed. Ebru became a status of wealth and status symbol as it adds so much texture and dimmension to flat paper.

Finally Paper Source met the demand of the marble trend and even went beyond this and started carrying a diy marbling kit. As an instructor, I jumped at the chance to teach a workshop. I soon too was hooked to this wonderful Suminagashi method of creating; It's simple, easy to execute, and I love the originality of each result. I took it upon myself to create various stationary sets with the kit and I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the results. 


So go, grab a kit, some paper, and try it out. The best part is no matter how "artistic" you claim to be, anyone can be successful at this, artistically trained or not. So stay marbled, and stay true. 

Heather DunmoyerComment