Introduction to Turkish Style Paper Marbling

Our workshop is intended to be an introduction to the Turkish style of paper marbling.  This variety of marbling is different from most marbling done in the world today.  Historically appropriate materials and techniques of the paper marbler will be the foundation of this class.  Instruction will include discussion and application of the basic tools, materials and techniques  There will be plenty of time to create a variety of patterns.  It is important to wear clothing that can become stained with paint.  This warning applies to shoes, also.

Description of paper marbling:
Paper marbling is the art or process of staining paper with paint or ink.  Patterns are achieved by floating and manipulating paint on the surface of the water, vegetable gum, or combination of each.  This surface is called the Size.  Turkish marbling uses finely ground pigments in the water as its paint.  Bile, a natural detergent from animals, is added to the paint.  Bile changes water’s behavior by decreasing its surface tension. The vegetable gum will draw back from the paint as it contacts its surface and the paint will effortlessly spread until it reaches an equal surface resistance.  A difference in surface tension between the gum and the paint allows the paint to expand and remain separate from the gum.  At this point the paint can be distorted.  Distortions in the paint can be achieved by moving the paint over the gum’s surface.  A verity of tools can be used to distort these surfaces.  These include tools with one stylus, or multiple tooth bearing rakes and combs having teeth of various diameters and spacing.  Each tool will produce specific effects.  Distortion is considered a pattern.  Once a pattern has been produced, paper is then carefully laid on the paint where it is transferred from the gum’s surface to the paper’s surface.  This is due to the attraction of the paint to the paper, or through the paper’s inherent absorbent nature.  In most instances, it’s a combination of both.  This is especially true with papers of traditional composition.

Ebru, as Turkish marbling was originally called, is believed to be the first marbling to use vegetable gum and water based paints with ox gall.  Gum tragacanth is sizing used as a base to apply the bile and water color paint.  Examples of ecru date back to the mid- fifteenth century.  A strong association exists between books and marbling, due to the long history they share.  Many historical pattern examples survive today because of the protection afforded between the covers of old books.

Students need to bring an apron.

Instructor: John Bielik

Class Fee: $95