The Process

The 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 dry.

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 12
th 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.


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