Questions & Answers About Marbling

Materials list: Mulberry Bleached White paper, 45 GSM

  • Lambda Caragheenan powder (moss, organic)
  • Marblers’ Alum
  • Marblers’ Oxgall (organic)
  • Grumbacher Academy watercolors
  • Winsor Newton gouache, Permanent White and Lamp Black
  • eye droppers
  • plastic cups
  • newspaper strips to clean size after marbling each time
  • marbling tub
  • lotus bowl for mixing paints
  • painters’ brush for blending paints with distilled water 
  • distilled water (only!)
  • paper cutter
  • paint roller to distribute alum water across paper for mordanting
  • rack for drying paper
  • stylus/toothpicks
  • broom straw whisks
  • rinsing board (I use the lid that came with the marbling tub)
  • a sink with running water for rinsing the marbled paper
  • watering can for gently pouring water over paper to rinse
  • iron, to get the wrinkles out of the dried, finished paper

For reference, please visit the Sue Zajac Marbling channel on YouTube.

Marbling YouTube Channel

Trouble-shooting

  • The first dropping of paint is a test.  If a color sinks to the bottom, add more oxgall.  Dark colors need more oxgall than lighter colors. White gouache has much oxgall in it already.
  • Oxgall is bile, from the beef industry.  Oxgall enables the paint molecules to bond. 
  • If a color has too much oxgall, use only the tip of the stylus to drop the paint onto the caragheenan size.
  • Always rinse the freshly marbled paper.
  • Clean off the size after each paper.  I clean several times.  The surface of the size gets dry and will crack if not cleaned thoroughly each time.  The paints willl crack if the surface is not clean.
  • Designer watercolors have too many additives. They will sink to the bottom.
  • You should be able to overmarble your first design after it dries, without applying alum again.