Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Making Marbled Paper

Paint Techniques and Patterns for Classic and Modern Marbleising on Paper and Silk.

Heather Fletcher of HRJ Design Studios

Published by Fox Chapel publishing

When this book fell into my in box I was delighted as it is a technique that I have tried out myself and the results can be rather random. Heather Fletcher is a true professional and manages to get great results, and with her clear, photographed step by step instructions you dear readers will be able to do the same.

Heather is a surface designer who works in many different mediums including marbling, suminagashi, pochoir, linocut, and woodblock printing, Heather incorporates them into her current practice focused in the following areas: artist books, hand lettering, graphic design, surface pattern design, quilting, and illustration (hand and digital).

After a brief introduction to the author, the book opens with a short history of marbling. The first half of the book divides into three chapters starting with the studio and how to set up, the tools and materials needed and paints and colours.

One of the bonuses of choosing marbling as a craft is that it requires very little in the way of specialist tools, most of them you will find in your house. You are given instructions on how to make your own marbling combs.

Heather teaches classes on marbling and other surface design techniques at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Textile Center in Minneapolis, and around the world.

As she says

‘There are many “systems” for marbling paper, each using a different kind of paint (ink vs. watercolor vs. oil

vs. acrylics) and different substances to float color on the surface. In this book, we use fluid acrylic paint and carrageenan. Through teaching marbling, I found that these two materials are the easiest to work with for marblers of all levels—from beginners to seasoned professionals. Both carrageenan and acrylic paint are easily available through online retailers and at your local art store.

The recipe is given for making your own carrageenan ‘size’ and as it is a seaweed extract it is often used in the food industry as a thickener. It can be safely poured down the sink after use.’

The second part of the book is called patterns and describes and shows the foundation patterns and further patterns based on those.

The reader is then given techniques to marble on paper and then on fabric. Finally there is a troubleshooting section and a resources guide. 

Heather’s surface designs are represented by MHS Licensing and licensed to manufactures and put onto products for home décor, hydration, wall art, tabletop, wallpaper, and quilting fabrics.


Three super stylish marbled fabric projects

Marbling in its many forms, on furniture paper s and fabrics is very popular at the moment. The easiest way to marble is to float oil paint on water as oil and water don’t mix. I did this in my previous marbled cards project. This is great if you are marbling paper but it isn’t really suitable for fabric as it sits on the surface and feels hard. I discovered  a brilliant kit on line made by homecrafts direct  

Rather than just plain cloth I decided to marble some baby items, a couple of headbands and some yellow napkins.


the kit includes a marbling ground and a selection of different colours which you can also buy as a pearlised set. You will need to mix up the dye bath in advance. so allow time for this.

You will need



Kitchen roll

surgical or vinyl gloves

Marbling ground

A shallow dish that is large enough to fit the largest garment or piece of fabric you wish to marble onto

Marbling colours

Items to marble natural fibres and light colours or white are best.


  1. Prepare the bath by mixing 50gms of marbling ground with 2.5litres of water until it is the consistency of thin cream.
  2. Cover the work area with newspaper. Put on vinyl gloves and an apron to protect yourself.
  3. To break the surface tension of the bath, skim over it with a piece of kitchen roll.
  4. Immediately after skimming drip the marbling colours onto the surface of the bath.
  5. Use an old pencil or back of a paint brush to spread and manipulate the colours.
  6. when you are happy with the design lay the garment or fabric on the surface of the bath and then once the colour has taken gently lift it out.
  7. At this stage I wash off the size from the dye bath and then leave my fabric to dry. Other people leave the fabri c to dry with the size still on it and then wash it off later.
  8. Once dry iron on the back to fix the design.




Marble your own colourful greetings cards


These cards are made using a very simple but effective technique –marbling. Once the design is made they are stuck onto plain cards using double sided tape.


You will need

Lots of space for drying.

Shallow tray, large enough to fit the paper.

Marbling inks

Lolly or cocktail stick

Lots of newspaper

Kitchen roll

Protective gloves

Instructions to marble paper

  1. Cover the work area with lots of newspaper. Fill the tray with 3cm of water.
  2. Prime the surface of the water by putting a drop of marbling ink onto the surface of the water. Wipe it away with some kitchen paper.
  3. Using the dropper bottle apply 1 or 2 drops of marbling ink onto the surface of the water. Either blow it or give it a quick stir with a stick or back of a paintbrush.
  4. Place a piece of paper on top of the water and inks and then lift it off. The design will be on your paper.
  5. Leave the sheet to dry. You can try a second print but it will probably come out lighter than the first.
  6. Add more drops of ink and repeat steps 3 and 4
  7. Remove excess ink from the surface of the water with a scrap of paper.

Tip Wear disposable latex gloves for the whole project, as it makes it much less mucky.


Credits –

Marbling ink – Homecrafts (

Red table – Habitat (