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What is Paper Marbling?

Paper marbling is an ancient art tradition in many cultures. Marbling is named so because it mimics the natural patterns found in marble and other stones. Marbled paper is created by floating colorful inks on the surface of water, or a viscous water-based solution known as size. Ink is typically applied to the surface using a pipette or other dripping method. The inks are then swirled to create complex patterns that can be transferred to paper or fabric.

The ink can be manipulated by blowing on the water, using a special comb, or running other tools over the surface of the size to create designs. When a sheet of paper is laid upon the surface and quickly lifted, it grabs the floating ink pattern from the solution. Each sheet of marbled paper is a unique monotype—no two pages will ever look the same!

Major Marbling Traditions

Paper marbling has been used for centuries to create decorations, manuscripts and books. Marbling techniques spread throughout the ancient Middle East and into Europe. Sheets of marbled paper were traditionally used by European bookmakers as book-ends—the paper was favored for hiding bumps from leather turn-ins and chords.

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