My second lesson in Italian paper marbling occurred this past week while We were in Firenze at Il Papiro. The lesson this time was from the owner of Il Papiro. Not only was he a fine instructor, but a wealth of historical information, which I sucked right up.
Some websites say that paper marbling began in Turkey, others that it started earlier in China---about 2,000 years ago. The instructor at Il Papiro (whose family came from Turkey to Italy many generations ago) told us the history as he knew it, i.e. from when the technique got its Asian permutation in early 12th century Japan. There and then, the “floating ink” technique was more metaphysical in design, involving air currents to create each unique pattern.
From Japan, the technique was introduced to the Ottoman Empire, where as art styles will, it followed another path to become very representational. Hard to believe once I’d had my lesson. But artists do what they are inclined to, so I’m a believer.
From Turkey it arrived in Europe, and the beautiful marbled papers I came to think of as originating in Firenze got their start.
Entering Il Papiro for the lesson. Lots of temptation. I did succumb to it. LOL. Going home with some pretty amazing art paper.
The gel bath is made of 1/4th pre-mixed wall-paper paste and 3/4ths water, poured into their way cool and functional custom made tray. The gel keeps the colors afloat and prevents them from mixing in the subsequent steps.
Above, the owner is spattering colors onto the bath. He used a honey dipper to tap the paint off the brush and keep his hands clean. Why didn't I ever think of that?!?! The order in which the colors are splattered doesn't matter, since they don't mix.
The colors are "combed", once only, with another custom-made tool, this time metal comb with a wooden block handle. A metal hair pick would also work, so long as it's metal and not plastic.
Lay the blank paper down on the floating color. This step is tricky because you must not submerge the paper. At. All.
He did it by placing one corner on the bath (in this case, the corner he's holding in his left hand), letting surface tension hold it, then gently dropping the rest of the paper. As soon as the whole sheet was down, he lifted it back up and out be taking just the opposite corner (held in his right hand) and pulling up.
Presto! You got marble paper.
Have fun. Hope it works for you.