Marbling Handmade Paper
- The bath had been sitting as long as those whisks, and that was after
two days' marling. I'm beginning to love old bath. Offlist a member
asked me to share my experience test marbling handmade paper. I
thought some others might be interested as well.
At my studio, we make paper. Why? Because we can't get what we
really need/want any other way.
We cook our bast fibre.
We beat our fibre into pulp. . . in a hollander beater
We vat our own pulp
We couche our own sheets
We press in the 35,000 LB press
We dry between blotters
From beginning to end, we work our own process, control our end
results. . . . by hand. Gampi and Kozo, of course, are our fibres of
From the same pulped batch, I tested today. Following is the
Decided to first marble a pressed sheet of cotton/abaca (the first
sheet I attempted a few days ago was a "not" sheet). Conclusion is
that cotton/abaca does not like to be marbled, mordant or not.
Pressed or not.
On to the gampi/abaca blend. It was sized in-vat with a minimum
amount of an AKD. I was expecting some problems. . .applied mordant -
dried the sheet -- applied watercolor inks to the aged bath -- oooh!
they floated, they spread, great! But wait, what's that? Something
that looks like Sunspots? How'd that happen? The old bath? The
alcohol? Old inks? (they're only a few weeks old). I expected the
inks to slither away upon liftoff. . . they didn't. The paper had
good wet-strength, the color was pastel, but nonetheless distinctive
Dropped Prussian, Indigo, Cobalt Blue onto bath. Sunspots again!
Whoopee! Layed another sheet, this one no mordant. . . just to see
what would happen. To my horror, it began soaking liquid like crazy,
I waited for it to sink, it didn't. I expected it to disentigrate
like tissue paper upon liftoff, it didn't . . although it was quite,
quite soft and had to be handled gingerly. I could see from the back
that it had taken the ink, but i'd not seen another paper do that, so
I expected pale, bleeding ink. What happened next was amazing. . .
well at least to me. The ink seemed to remain on the surface and at
the same time penetrated the paper. From the back can be seen
veining. Crisp, sharp imprint on the front. . . and with true
color. . . . i.e. the Prussian is prussian, Indigo is indigo, only
the cobalt grayed.
Conclusion: Overall, quite successful. Better than I could have
imagined from what I've seen/experienced thus far. I conclude that
the mordant on these "sized" handmades somehow lighten the inks but
on the other hand, enhance the wet-strength of the paper. Just can't
have it both ways. Mordant/paper/ink -- variables, that mordant is an
To me, this is so exciting, as most reports of marbling on handmade
paper have not been favorable. Marbling on handmade paper can never
be smooth, because handmade paper is not smooth because handprepared
pulp is not smooth, there will always be shreds of fibres in the
pulp; therefore, there will always be some degree of uneven print.
Nonetheless, my result today is promising. A great process for those
who are fond of textural results.