- Dear N. Sedef Ardor,
In your message you didn't say which method of marbling you are working with. You
likely know that methods and materials used for marbling in Europe and the US are very
different from those used in Turkey. Here in the US, when you use the term "marbling",
people assume that you want to use carragheen moss or methyl cellulose for size, and
mordant your papers with alum prior to marbling them. The colors sold are water colors
in a gum binder, a variety of acrylic colors, as well as oils. Some people do use these
materials to make contemporary forms of ebru, but I think it is a good idea to be clear
about just what materials you are looking for.
If you are looking for kitre (tragacanth) for traditional Turkish ebru, none of the suppliers
mentioned have it. To my knowledge, I have not seen a source for kitre in the US that is
anything like good fresh kitre in Turkey. Here there is a powder form that can be used,
but the results are very inferior to the good fresh "ribbon trag". You can buy pigments for
making colors from various suppliers, but my personal favorite is Kremer in NYC.
I always have to ask the person just what they mean when the use the terms "marbling"
and "ebru". Many in the US are using the terms "Ebru" or "Turkish marbling" to describe
forms of marbling or pattern variations that are quite obviously European in origin. Is
making a "Spanish" or 'bouquet" pattern truly "Turkish" or "ebru"? These patterns are not
a part of the historic Ottoman repetoire, nor were they produced in the native traditions in
India and Iran. Yet today we have so many Turkish marblers who have adopted some
European conventions, and the terms consequently become a bit more muddied.
Then again, for a long time, marbling was just known as "Turkish paper" in Europe,
irrespective of the pattern on the sheet!
Yet today we do have friends and colleagues in Turkey today making European "Spanish"
and "Bouquet" patterns, using modern synthetic pigments, while they also employ
traditional features such as kitre for size and don't mordant their papers before marbling
them. Ot others will create arabic calligraphies or floral motifs, but use carragheen size
and mordant their papers. Well, just what are these approaches then? I think the term
"contemporary hybrid" or simply "contemporary" is an accurate description of this.
So I think it helps to use a few additional terms to describe what you are doing rather than
just vaguely call it "ebru" or "marbling". Of course, all of this discussion heads right into
the stormy waters of semantics, and needless to say some of our fellow Turkish colleagues
certainly do have some very strong opinions on what does or does not constitute "ebru"
or "klassik ebru" and so on. Unfortunatley, most of the discussion is very particular to the
tradition in Istanbul as it evolved in Istanbul, and does not take into account methods and
terms for marbling that emerged in other parts of the Muslim world.