How to make marbled paper

marbeled paper

© Public domain

    • Marbling has been used to decorate paper for centuries. The Victorians were particularly fond of it. You may see it used on the inside covers of old books.

      Here's the Show Me guide to making your own marbled paper.

      materials for marbling paper, including a foil tray and some paints

      You will need:
      • Lots of old newspaper to protect your table
      • A large tray with deep sides (we used a foil roasting tin)
      • A large jug of cold water
      • Some marbling paint or marbling ink in different colours (you can buy this in craft shops)
      • Pieces of paper or card (small enough to fit in the tray)
      • A pencil
      Here's what to do:

      First, pour water into the tray until it's 1-2cm deep.

      blobs of paint in a foil tray
      Next, add some drops of paint to the water a few at a time. Here we started with blue and added drops of silver, red and yellow.

      Using the tip of the pencil, move the paint around the tray until all the colours mix round each other in a feathery pattern.

      Paint being swirled around in a foil tray
      Choose a piece of paper which is small enough to fit into the tray.

      We're using a white envelope here, but you can try all kinds of paper and card, and experiment to find out what works best.

      A piece of paper being placed in a foil tray
      Place your paper into the tray by rolling it down on to the surface of the water.

      Make sure the paper is completely flat, floating on the water.

      Don't let the paper go under the water.

      An envelope being placed in a foil tray
      Next, gently lift the far end of the paper and roll the paper back from the water.

      You should see all the paint in the tray coming away onto the paper.

      And here's the result! Beautiful.

      A piece of paper being lifted to reveal the marbled pattern
      Leave your marbled paper lying flat on some newspaper until it's completely dry.

      Once it's dry, you can use it for all kinds of things - wrapping paper, gift tags or greetings cards.

      And here we made a colourful sunburst pattern on a brown envelope.

      You get this effect by dripping each different colour of paint inside the previous one, then dragging the tip of the pencil from the centre of the paint outwards.

      An envelope with a marbled sunburst pattern
      You can get different effects by changing what you use to drag the paint with - why not try using the handle of a teaspoon, a plastic comb or a feather?

      You can see an example of 19th century marbled paper here at the V&A website.

      All images are copyright Culture24.
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