Paper Marbling, all the tips and tricks of years marbling paper (including book edge
Vol.II in a series of technical manuals aimed at the bookbinder.
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This tutorial contains everything you need to know to get good results, having said that, paper
marbling is a wayward art and a lot will depend on your local conditions, temperature, humidity, water etc.
But it's all here.
If you feel that you might be suffering from the particular illness that causes people to want
to take up paper marbling, then this tutorial will give you many shortcuts to success.
I used to use ox gall, I made my own, which meant trips to the slaughterhouse to collect the
gall bladders of freshly slaughtered cattle, I neither enjoyed the trips nor the method of extracting and
processing the gall, it came as a great relief when I found a household substitute for it...this and many
other tips are contained in the tutorial.
Included is the best source of fresh carrageen moss I have found, plus an online source of
Alum, a description of how to make some of the more esoteric combs used in marbling, how to produce the
Spanish Wave pattern (examples shown below) and a section on book edge marbling.
To treat the edges of books and produce matching end-papers you only need a small tray and
little equipment, a bindery could do a lot worse than learn this skill, it gave us an edge as binders, as I
have said, very few binders still do it and it cannot be convincingly faked.
Right at the start let me explain that
we will be talking about paper marbling with acrylic colours...why? Because I got fed up with the
characteristics of ordinary gouache or artists water colour, when you rubbed the sheets, loose pigment would
come off on your fingers, you had to treat the papers with beeswax in order to make the colours fast, and even
then the colours would still come off on the customers hands when the book was handled extensively.
With acrylic colours the result is not
only a paper whose colours are absolutely fast, but the use of such colours makes the sheet damp proof, you can
wipe them over with a damp cloth with no ill effect.
Marbling with acrylics differs from
marbling with gouache or artists water colour pigments in several ways. With gouache or water colours, it is
necessary to add a spreading agent to the colours to make them spread on the surface of the size.
If you were to drop a small amount of
gouache or water colour on the size without this spreading agent, the drop of colour would simply sink straight
to the bottom of the tank, with a drop or two of spreading agent added instead of sinking, the spreading agent
breaks the surface tension of the size allowing the colour to spread on the surface. The more spreading
agent...the more the colour spreads and the less pigment their will be in a given area, and the paler the colour
will appear, thus giving you control over how intense or pale your colours are.
Below you can see some examples of a design known as the Spanish Wave, surely some of the
most beautiful patterns to be obtained through this art.
Here are some pictures of the process's involved.
The techniques behind book edge marbling.
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