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Marbling in my sketchbook

Hello everyone,

We’ve been experimenting with marbling here in the studio. I’ve been working in my sketchbooks lately and so I wanted to investigate how successfully I could marble directly into the pages of my books.

I know that obviously you can marble on loose sheets of paper and then collage them into the book, but I always enjoy the immediacy of doing a technique direct into the book.

Here’s a short video showing my process…

We had a clothes airer set up and were pegging the single sheets of paper and fabrics that we were marbling to that while they dried. For the sketchbooks I dried them flat on the desk .

As you can see I was going for the patterns which aren’t too feathered. For the work that I’m doing at the moment, these ‘cellular’ patterns are more appropriate. In the marbling I’m aiming to create spaces where I’ll be able to work back in with another technique, maybe some drawing for example.

I really enjoyed the black and white pages I did. Always a fan of keeping it simple and graphic with black and white and it works very well when it comes to marbling. Not that the page will necessarily stay like this, I might add colour with some acrylic glazes.

In this page (above), I’ve tried to combine the swirling lines that you often associate with traditional marbling, with the more open spaces. It was fun to experiment with the paints and learn how different colours spread further and faster than others. Couldn’t resist turning the small red blobs into hearts with a flick of a kebab stick!

If you’ve marbled before you’ll know that it’s recommended to prepare the surfaces that you’re going to marble with alum. I didn’t prep any of my sketchbook pages and it seems to all have worked fine. If you try this I’d recommend doing a test in your book and if you run into any issues then consider using some alum beforehand. I found that the colour adhered to the pages really well.

The sketchbook I’m working into here is by Arteza and has heavy paper. I’m really enjoying working into it and it’s coping well with all the techniques and materials that I’m throwing at it! It’s hard back with a fabric covered cover, which as you can see, I marbled!

You can find the books here:

These next few pages are all in my smaller sketchbook. The paper here is lighter, but still good for accepting the paint. Here I’m marbling over the top of other things that were already on the page, like handwriting and stamping. I’ll be working on adding more layers onto these pages to build up the composition.

I enjoy the small square format of this book and I was going to link it for you, but I can’t see it available at the moment. They do have it in an A6 version though which could work if you’re looking for something pocket sized:

As you’ve seen from the short video at the top of the page, marbling into a sketchbook just involves carefully lowering the open book onto the surface for the paint and not dropping it! Inevitably, it can be a bit tricky and I had paint creeping onto other pages, or pages slipping out of my grip and dipping into the water. I loved the results of that, especially this page (above) where I’ve got a bit of marbling happening alongside and over this photo of hands that I’ve collaged in previously.

This is the kit that we used for all our marbling experiments. When it arrives you might think it looks quite small and that the bottles of paint are small, but honestly, a little goes a long way. We have done two sessions so far (with one vat), and marbled many, many sheets of paper, sketchbook pages, and fabric pieces. I estimate that we’re about halfway through the kit. The vat will lose it’s thickness so we’ll have to mix up a fresh one for the next session. I felt that the kit was actually really good value and it’s extremely convenient to have all paints, alum and carrageenan ready. Along with the kit you’ll need a container to hold the marbling water. We used a cat litter tray. We used a second one to hold the alum solution. Other than that we used kebab sticks for swirling patterns; a clothes airer and pegs were great for putting the papers and fabrics on while they dried, and also a pile of newspapers to soak up any drips.

Here’s a link to the kit we used:

I hope that inspires you to give marbling a try. Thanks for visiting today.

Laura x


Other posts

More Sketchbook

A look at some recent pages in my small sketchbook.

Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

I often get asked for info on where to buy the products and supplies that I use in my work. On the blog I’ll include links where appropriate to my favourite things and to products that I’ve had success with. I will only link to items that I’ve tried and would recommend. Please note some of these are affiliate links so I may earn a small percentage without it costing you any extra 🙂

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