Finding one’s marbles…

Last Sunday I took part in a marbling workshop at the Baytree Shopping Centre in Brentwood. Amazingly, it was a FREE workshop provided by the Brentwood Art Trail.

The last time I tried marbling was when I was at school. We did it A LOT! So much so it wasn’t hard to find some that I did when I was 7 years old…

It’s not about the dragon…

My love for old books means you often find marbled paper inside them, or on the page edge. And when I did a book binding course a few years ago at the Essex Record Office, we got to work with some beautiful marbled paper as you can see here.

I loved using this marbled paper to make my notebook.

The workshop didn’t disappoint. Run by Julie (@ladyvermillion on IG) she showed us some of the examples she had made and briefly explained what we needed to do.

The equipment is simple so you can easily have a go yourself at home. You just need a washing up bowl or tray of water, some nail varnish and some things to marble.

This is a brilliant way of using up old nail varnishes – I know I’ve got some stored away – random colours that seemed like a good idea at the time! All you have to do is pour the nail varnish onto the water surface – that’s the important bit, getting it on the surface, not dropping to the bottom of the bowl. I found the easiest way to do it was to pour close to the surface rather than at a height and to wave the bottle friskly!

It can get messy so gloves, apron and newspaper are a good idea!

It was very much a case of trial and error. Waiting for the paint to disperse definitely gave a more ‘natural’ marbled look, but, left too long and it would set on the water and not adhere as well. (Some peeled off my paper)

The concentration….

More paint gave brighter images, I tried some swirling with a wooden stick to create some patterns, but again speed was the key, if I wasn’t quick enough I found myself collecting the paint onto the stick.

However the stick method was handy for cleaning the water surface when you wanted to change colours. You could just push the excess paint to the side of the bowl and start a fresh, no need to change the water each time.

I mostly marbled on watercolour paper as I liked the texture – but being absorbent it did take longer to dry! I also marbled a glass jar which dried really quickly, it’s now a pen pot!

We were each given a notebook and the idea was to make a bookmark from our marbled paper at the workshop but we ran out of time with the drying so I waited until I got home to decorate my notebook and used the left over paper to make my bookmark.

I really like the swirls on the bookmark.

I left feeling eager to marble more! Although I love the idea of using up old nail varnishes, I think using a marble kit may be better for creating the papers that I would like. I was going to say they’d probably be more predictable but I don’t think marbling can ever be predictable and that’s the whole point, you never know what you’re going to create!

Some of my other work made from the workshop

If you’ve thought about marbling, I hope that maybe you might like to give it a go now. It’s so simple, and if you’re after inspiration on things to marble, just have a look on Pinterest! And if you make anything – I’d love to see it so please share and tag me in!


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