What Is Marbling?

The art of marbling originated in Turkey hundreds of years ago.  Also known as “Ebru” the process involves floating ink or paint on a thickened liquid and manipulated into patterns.  Marbling is most generally associated with antique books but is incredibly versatile and can be adapted to accommodate fabric as well as three-dimensional objects.

The thickened liquid (size) is prepared using carrageenan which is a seaweed extract and is used as a food-grade thickener or methocel, a synthetic version that is more stable and lasts longer than the carrageenan.  Once the size is the about the consistency of  maple syrup it is ready to receive the paints.  For silk marbling acrylic paints are thinned with water and applied with eyedroppers, whisks, or squeeze bottles onto the surface of the size.

Once the desired color combination is achieved and the size surface is sufficiently covered complex patterns are created by swirling or combing through the paint ‘stones’ with various tools.

Silk that has been soaked in a solution of water and alum and then dried is gently laid onto the surface of the size and the marbled pattern is transferred  to the fabric.  The marbled silk is rinsed in clear water, hung to dry and then tumbled in a hot dryer to bind the acrylic paint to the fibers to make it wash-fast.

Marbling is a blend of chemistry, artistry, and happy accidents.  With many years of experience the results can be predicted to a point, but there will always be the element of surprise when the silk is lifted from the size and the finished pattern is revealed!

All Mauveine garments and accessories are made with fabric that has been hand dyed and/or marbled by the artist.