The Art of the Marbler


[Read the post]


One way that this principle can develop in the future:


I remember seeing a presentation once by somebody who specialized in painting textures for architectural purposes: faux marble, faux woodgrain and the like…


best video!


I so expected Scarfolk Council there.


My dad can do that, and did for a while between a redundancy & a new job teaching art. I remember him having to bring me along to work one summer to some horrid faux-Roman villa that belonged to the owner of a huge mall he was marbling the columns for, and I set off their fancy intruder alarm system. Never tell a kid not to touch the Big Red Button…


I expected German marble collectors.


I was a paper marbler for 4 or 5 years. What a finicky, temperamental craft. It takes enough equipment, supplies, and practice that it’s not easy to enter into casually. I really miss it, though.


If you’re interested in this and in the Bay Area, The San Francisco Center for the Book has workshops in marbling, as well as bookbinding, printing, and other book-related disciplines.

No affiliation, aside from it’s on my way to Whole Foods.


Damn. So no chance of it being a fun hobby.


I think it’s a lot of fun, but it’s definitely time- and labor-intensive as well as being very environmentally sensitive. Not to mention not especially cheap. Lots of specialized tools, lots of prep. I did it to have a booth at the Northern & Southern California Renaissance Faires in the mid 90s. That was a lot more fun than the marbling itself. :slight_smile:


On a small hobbyist scale it is totally doable. Even mistakes look cool. When I was in Jr. High/Middle school a teacher taught an elective class for this which I didn’t take. I did take her mushroom ID class. Later through community education I took a class in this - it was just a 6 hour class - or maybe it was delivered be the U of O craft center, hmmm. There are also great books and online resources to get started. It can be messy & time consuming - which makes it really fun.

Fun as a hobbyist can really suck for a limited run of even 50 books - even if ya’ don’t care about breaking even. I bet this was what steveboyett meant.


The dunkin’ jaguar is mesmerizing. The way the spots move exactly to their planned, hmm, spots nears “indistinguishable from magic” territory to my feeble mind. It also looks like beautifully orchestrated artsy cat murder, like something out of Hannibal. Thanks!

The marbling is pretty fun too. Never liked the aesthetic on book covers, but the process is deliciously satisfying to watch. I did expect something more like this from the headline, though. You know, with more marbles.


They still do it in one particular government agency, the Government Publishing Office (GPO):

As you say, it’s time and labor intensive, but so completely and utterly worthwhile. IIRC, the copy of the Federal Register (the daily tally of the govt’s doings, published daily) delivered up to the Congress is marbled…


I like it better as endpapers rather than book covers. Though I’ve done cover runs, my little Ren Faire business cut the sheets into stationery sets (good vellum painstakingly picked to take the paint and sizing). I also marbled silk scarves and wooden Shaker boxes. Calligraphers would trade with me; they got nifty writing papers, and I got awesome hand-lettered initial caps on sonnets I would laser print on marbled paper. Also laminated marbled bookmarks are quite pretty.

Inevitably when I demo’d (I’d do 80-100 sheets a day outdoors with a big crowd around; we called it “stunt marbling”), someone would say, “This seems like a lot of work – why don’t you just scan the patterns and print them?” The idea that it existed to be the opposite of a mass-produced item seemed incomprehensible to some people.

Which is why the documentary contained some eyebrow-raising moments for me. We always used whisks to shake the paint onto the tray. The uniform dot-dipping gizmo they use is ingenious and weirdly disheartening. I see why it’s needed to produce cover runs that are closely similar, but it takes some of the art out of the craft. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I never thought of it.


And @cdhawke when I was a wee japhroaig I took classes briefly at Maude Kerns near the U of O. Don’t remember a thing from them.

Can you marble fabric? I need some new jackets and as a liner it would look glorious.


Silks that haven’t been treated with sizing. Usually you have to wash them in mild detergent before marbling. They have to be treated with an alum sizing agent that makes the paint bind to the silk, so you have to handwash the silk afterward to clean off the sizing. Thai silk wholesalers are a good source. Most marbling trays aren’t more than 3 x 3, so that has to be considered, though we had a 2 x 10 tray for scarves. There are fabric marblers around, largely in the Pacific Northwest and (as I recall) Virginia.


Co sidering I am from, and currently in, the PNW that tidbit doesn’t surprise me one iota. I appreciate your time and may have to start hitting craigslist or some of the markets around town.

Japhroaig needs to look good.

(Tweed on the outside, marbled silk on the inside? Too much)


I highly recommend marbled silk neckties. One of a kind, and beautiful (well, if done right). Colophon Book Arts in Lacey, Washington, is a great source of supplies and info; I used to buy a great many supplies from them. I think they’d likely be able to point you to a fabric marbler.


For those interested in dabbling without having to go whole hog on supplies and tools, I’m delighted to discover that Galen Berry still sells beginning Marbling Kits. I did a workshop with him many moons ago on Whidbey Island and he was a great guy and an excellent marbler; I highly recommend him.

Man, this post has really made me miss marbling!