Have you long been intrigued by the art of marbling? Contrary to what you might believe, it’s easier than you think and the results are truly beautiful. Follow the technique outlined here and float droplets of paint on the surface of a liquid starch bath. Swirl the paints with a toothpick or ‘rake’ then lay a sheet of paper on top to capture each colourful, one-of-a-kind design. It’s that simple. Go ahead and gather a group of like-minded souls for a day of making and sharing!
Easy to learn and light on supplies, this technique allows experimentation with different papers and paints.
Gather your supplies
- 3 Tbsp Silver Star Starch
- 1 tsp alum powder
- Americana Multi-Surface Satin acrylic paints in Cobalt, Waterfront and Flamingo or your desired colours
- White scrapbook paper or cardstock
You’ll also need
2 large trays (larger than your paper or cardstock); plastic cups; eyedroppers; bamboo skewer; cocktail straws; rake (see Tips and tricks, below); pegs; string
STEP 1 Boil water. While waiting, mix starch with 100ml cold water (for slurry). To make a starch bath, pour 3 3/4 cups boiled water into a tray; add alum and slurry; mix; cool. If starch has settled, swirl to mix. Fill other tray with water. In plastic cups, dilute 2 parts of each paint colour in 3 parts water; stir.
STEP 2 Using eyedroppers or straws, gently drip paint into cooled starch bath. Paint should cling to surface. Repeat until surface is nearly covered.
STEP 3 Go slowly and let paint spread organically. Drip new paint colours inside other drops of colour to form concentric circles. Manipulate paint by swirling a straw or bamboo skewer through the painted surface.
STEP 4 To create a feathered look, drag a rake through the paint. Try multiple pulls, different directions or zigzags. Paint will continue to shift, so have paper ready for the next step.
STEP 5 Slowly lower paper onto paint/ starch surface. Once the full sheet is in contact with the surface, peel it back. Rinse it gently in the tray of water to remove excess paint. Lay flat to dry. Repeat the process with clean paper until starch is murky. Peg work on stringline, then start over
Tips and Tricks
- To create a feathered effect, make a rake by duct-taping toothpicks, spaced 12mm apart, to a cardboard strip.
- Limit your colour palette of acrylic paints to get more life out of your starch bath.
- Experiment with cornflour to make liquid starch.
- For acrylic paints, alum and paper kit, see bhgshop.com.au.
NOTE If you prefer, before you start brush paper (right side) with a mordant to help paint stick. Just dissolve 2 tsp alum in 3/4 cup water. Let dry.