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Acrylic Paint Marbling

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Details

This technique is used in three of the Veritas Collection projects: Honor Society Notebook, Carrel Marbled Pencils, and Aurelian Locket. Start here to marble your notebook and paper at once before moving onto the rest of the tutorials. This tutorial will show you how to easily marble paper using acrylic paint and liquid cornstarch. Marbling is a multi step process, read through the whole tutorial before starting so you can plan your time accordingly.

Tools

  • foam brush
  • pipette dropper
  • popsicle sticks
  • toothpicks
  • cups
  • baking dish (2)
  • water
  • paper towels and/or newspaper

Materials

  • cornstarch
  • alum
  • recycled paper
  • archival paper (the heavier of the two with a slight texture)
  • kraft notebook
  • acrylic paint in three colors

Time

1.5 hours active time + drying time (overnight)
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Gather your tools and materials. In addition to what is included in the kit you'll want to grab two large baking dishes, several cups or small bowls, newspaper and/or paper towels, measuring spoons, stock pot, and some tap water.

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We are going to be doing this in several steps. The first step will be to apply alum solution to all of our papers and the notebook. Put a pencil mark on one side of each of the recycled papers and archival papers. This will help you remember what side you applied the alum to once it's dried.

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To make the alum solution measure 2 teaspoons of alum (the white granular powder in the bag labeled A) into a cup. Be careful when working with alum. Try to avoid getting it on your skin and clothes and don't go inhaling it for fun.

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Add 3/4 cup of water to the alum and stir until dissolved. Wet your foam brush and get ready to apply the alum to the paper we marked.

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Lay out kraft paper or newspapers on a table to protect your surface. With the papers laying marked side down brush on alum covering one whole side, don't miss any spots! Repeat this on all the paper included in the kit.

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Cover the front and back of the kraft notebook with alum. Set aside to dry. Once it's dry put the notebook under a heavy book to flatten out before marbling.

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Lay out all of the pages and the notebook to dry overnight or at least 6 hours. They should be completely dry before using. Once dry we also recommend pressing them under some heavy books. The flatter the paper the easier it will be to put it into the marbling paint. Don't move onto the other steps until this is complete.

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The next phase is to create liquid cornstarch. It's super simple to make your own starch but you can also buy liquid cornstarch at the store if you would like. Both will work for this tutorial. Grab a cup and measure 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (the bag labeled C) into the cup. Add approx 1/4 cup of COLD water and stir until all the clumps have dissolved.

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Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.

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Pour the cornstarch into the boiling water and boil on high for one minute, stirring vigorously. Turn off the heat but keep the pot on the hot surface for an additional 3 minutes while stirring occasionally. Making sure to prevent any coagulated bumps from forming.

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Pour the liquid cornstarch into one of the baking dishes you set aside. We used a 13" x 9" ceramic dish. If you use something larger you might need to make more cornstarch to fully cover the bottom.

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If there are any clumps in the starch try to keep them from falling in the dish. Discard them in the trash. You want your cornstarch as silky as possible to create a smooth marble. Allow the cornstarch to cool to room temperature before moving onto the rest of the steps.

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Pour water into the other empty baking dish. You want enough water to go up a few inches on the side. This dish will be used to rinse off your paper once the paint is applied.

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You've done it, you've reached phase 3! Now onto the fun part... Grab four cups and scoop out a little paint into each one (reserve one for the next step where we will combine all the colors to make deep plum). Add a little water to the paint, go slowly. You want the paint to have the consistency of milk. If it's too thin it won't saturate the paper. If it's too thick the paint will sink to the bottom of the dish. We'll experiment with this in a minute.

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Our favorite color combo this month came from mixing all three of the colors into a deep plum. The mixture uses more fluro violet than red and blue. Mix the red and blue into the violet until you achieve just the right shade of plum. Add water and stir just as we did with the other colors, trying to keep the consistency like milk.

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You'll have four colors to play with while marbling (or more if you mix them other ways). The paint will sink to the bottom of the water as time goes by so make sure to give them all a stir before you begin marbling and in between marbling sessions.

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Set the paints beside your liquid cornstarch dish and grab the plastic dropper. Use the dropper to grab some paint from the top of the cup. Gently graze it across the starch dropping little drops as you go. If your paint is simply falling to the bottom without dispersing along the top it probably means your cornstarch mixture is too thin and you should boil it down a bit more to thicken it up. Ideally you want the cornstarch to be thicker than the paint. You can also try watering your paint down a little bit more to see if that helps.

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When you are done with one color squirt the paint back into the cup and then rinse out the dropper by sucking up some tap water and squirting it back out before moving onto another paint color.

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Keep layering colors until you've covered most of the surface. Make sure to keep stirring the paint in your cups as you go.

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This step is optional but it disperses the paints into a natural marble. Just lift up the dish and give the starch a gentle swirl in a circle.

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Using a toothpick create lines and swirls in the paint. Do this until you've created a pattern you want on your paper.

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Take your first piece of paper and starting at the center gently place it into the starch, alum side facing down (this is important). Push down the edges gently so the whole sheet of paper touches the paint. You don't want to submerge the paper but just let it sit on top of the paint. Let it sit for just a second or two.

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Grab one corner and lift up the paper, turning it over.

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Gently submerge the paper into the water bath and let the water flow over the paper a few times, rinsing off the excess paint. Try not to touch the top with your fingers as it will wipe away the paint. Set the paper, paint side up, on some newspapers or kraft paper to dry. The first marbled paper you do will be the most saturated.

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Apply more paint to the starch before every piece of paper you marble.

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Dip another sheet of paper, alum side down.

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Set them all flat to dry. Marble all of the paper in the box.

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You can also marble your own paper. Experiment with different types; copy paper, sketch paper, watercolor paper. You'll get different effects with each different kind. Just make sure to apply the alum solution to any paper you'd like to marble.

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Now that you've got the hang of it we're going to marble the kraft notebook! Start adding more paint to your cornstarch dish.

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We created a lot of tiny swirls for this pattern using a toothpick.

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Place one side of the kraft notebook cover into the cornstarch covered in your marbled paint. Make sure the whole cover has touched the paint surface. Just be mindful of the inside paper. Try not to submerge it into the water. Leave the cover in for a second and then pull it out and turn it over.

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Rinse it gently in the water bath making sure not to get the inside papers wet. Set aside to dry. You can marble the back side too once the front has dried. Now that everything is marbled move onto the other tutorials and learn how to use the marbled paper in unique ways.

Comments

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britpopjess

over 4 years ago

this was so fun. is the paint non-toxic? i used some mason jars and a glass baking dish for the project - after washing out the paint can i use for food again?

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ForTheMakers

over 4 years ago

Hi @britpopjess Yes, the paint is non-toxic! Just give it a good wash with soap and hot water and you are safe to use them for food!

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lonelyhunter

over 4 years ago

I still have some paint leftover from the Toketee collection - will that paint work for this too?

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ForTheMakers

over 4 years ago

@lonelyhunter yes, it will work!

Rose

BlueSkies

over 4 years ago

This was fun. Can you help, my papers didn't dry flat. Can I iron them?

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ForTheMakers

over 4 years ago

Hi @blueskies we've never tried ironing them but if you attempt that make sure to put a barrier like a piece of fabric or a paper towel between the paper and the iron. We like to flatten them by placing the pages under heavy books for a couple days. They may never be completely flat but this will definitely help!

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pt-bookbinding

over 4 years ago

Great tutorial, thanks for taking the time out to post it. FYI, I used it as a reference on a recent paper marbling tutorial I did myself a week or two ago, figured it might be a a good resource for some of your readers... http://www.ibookbinding.com/blog/marbled-paper-bookbinding-tutorial-and-photo-gallery/ Keep up the good work and again, many thanks! ~ Paul

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craftylady

over 4 years ago

Finally got to the marbleizing paper. I have been wanting to try it and now I appreciate those who create art through that technique. Please never remove tutorials :-). Sometimes I don't get to something or I like to go back and try projects with some different materials. It is also fun to look back through the projects and see what changes others have made.

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ForTheMakers

over 4 years ago

Hi @craftylady - don't worry we never remove the tutorials! Hope your paper turned out great!