fabric is dyed by hand for a background color (all
the scarves are white when they are first purchased).
Also, I dye some custom colors in the larger sheets of silk before
marbling. Once the fabric is dyed it must be completely machine washed to
remove all excess dye. Then the marbling can begin.
The washed material is soaked in a mordant (French,
meaning "to bite") which causes the
marbling color to adhere to it. The mordanted material must be hung to
Meanwhile, liquid hand
mixed non-toxic colors are dropped gently into a large shallow tray containing
about 2 - 3 inches of a viscous liquid made with water and carrageenan (refined
seaweed powder). The colors float on
top of this liquid. When all the colors are sprinkled on, then the mixture
is raked back and forth with different "combs" made of rows of pins
attached to a board, spaced at differing intervals for making the
patterns. Once the patterns
are achieved and can be seen floating, the material is carefully laid on top of
this design. The material immediately absorbs the color and is lifted off,
taking all the floating color with it, then rinsed and hung to dry. When
the marbled material is dry, it is again washed in the machine to remove all
excess mordant, and then dried in the dryer. The material is ready to be
made into unique one of a kind items.
Marbling is quite a fascinating and demanding process (once
one expects certain results). Otherwise
if it is done for fun, the results can be surprising and wonderful, even for
beginners. That's what makes all the preparatory work worthwhile!
BRIEF HISTORY OF ANCIENT MARBLING
Marbling is believed to have started as long ago as the 12th
century in Persia, when paper documents of legality were marbled lightly so that
any changes could be detected. It became popularly used as decoration for
book end papers, wrapping papers and other uses. Marblers were extremely
secretive about sharing their knowledge of this craft and it has been this way
up until fairly recently, as more people became aware of the beautiful results
and wanted to create it themselves. As a self-taught marbler, I can attest
to much testing and research and experimentation even when I began in 1987;
there were very few books about the process and even less information about the
ingredients that were used. That has now changed and books and workshops,
and marbling kits are being widely sold.