It is important to alum the material, as this serves to make a more permanent bond of the paint to the paper or cloth. Add 11/4 cups alum to a gallon of water. Mix well until all alum has dissolved.
Pour the alum-water into the tray and soak the paper or cloth until both sides are completely damp. Where the paper or cloth is not damp, the pattern will not take. You may also pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spritz on. Use a sponge to remove excess. Pat dry or hang on a line until dry. The material must be fully dry in order to get a good transfer of pattern. Some marblers press the paper or iron it to remove wrinkles. Plan on doing this the day before any marbling to allow the material to fully dry.
Follow the manufacturers' directions completely. Generally speaking, carrageenan should sit for a day before attempting to marble on it. Methylcellulose may only take several hours. This waiting period is essential to make sure the material has fully hydrated. You will know this has occurred when the mixture appears very smooth, and any lumps are gone. Keep the mixture in a cool area, refrigerating if possible. The cooler the mixture is when actually marbleizing, the better the performance. Once made, you should treat the mixture like a food product, as both these products can spoil, especially carrageenan. *If using a refrigerator containing food, avoid contact between these materials and foodstuffs.
Mixing the Paints:
- PaperFor applications onto paper, GOLDEN Fluid Colors or must be diluted with water for marbleizing onto paper. Balancing of colors (described below) will be required.
For applications onto fabric, the addition of GAC 900 becomes important to ensure adequate launderability (heat setting required). Generally, a 1:1 mixture of GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics and GAC 900 yields satisfactory results. Again, balancing of colors (see below) may be required.
Prepare a solution of 1 part (by volume) GOLDEN Acrylic Flow Release and 7 parts distilled water. This mixture will be used to "balance" the colors (see below). Balancing the colors is an important step, in which all colors are adjusted to spread equally on the size. Generally, a well-balanced set of colors is desired, however, one can take advantage of unbalanced colors for special effects.
Fill the tray with medium to a depth of at least 1" and let it sit for several minutes. Wait for bubbles to dissipate.
Balancing the colors is often the most difficult and time-consuming task in marbleizing. Start by testing each color mixture, placing a small, equal-sized drop onto the size. The colors should "spread" out fairly quickly and uniformly, usually to a diameter of around 3". If a color spreads very slowly, or drops below the surface of the size, begin adding small amounts of the Acrylic Flow Release/water solution to the color. Continue testing and adding solution until the desired spread pattern is achieved. For colors that continue to be very difficult to spread, a stronger Acrylic Flow Release/water solution may prove useful (water 3:1 A.F.R.). If, on the other hand, the color spreads out too quickly, its reactivity should be reduced by adding water and/or the acrylic medium (GAC 100 for paper or GAC 900 for fabric).
(*Note: Between each series of trials, make sure the surface is very clean of paint. This can be done by laying down a paper towel to collect any paint, or by "skimming" the surface with newspaper strips. If too many drops of color submerge into the size, it will disrupt the surface tension of the medium, which will affect the performance of the paints. For this reason, work in small trays to balance the colors, and change the size frequently as it becomes murky).
Once all of the colors seem to be spreading at roughly the same rate and relatively the same size diameter, the colors can be further refined by making bulls-eyes with them. For each of the colors in your set, place one drop of color onto the size, and let it fully spread. Next, apply a drop of each other color directly into the center of the circle. If a color drop submerges below the surface, it means the first color dominated it and more Acrylic Flow Release/water needs to be added to it.
This process will further balance the colors, but individual pigments will behave differently, and it is futile to attempt to get all colors precisely equal. It is better to note the rate of each color's spread, which will help you to develop a "sequence" in which the colors need to be laid out. If a color noticeably dominates the other colors, it should be one of the last applied to the size. It will most likely create the maximum level of surface tension which will not allow other colors to spread, and the overall color intensity will not be as great. Conversely, add the slower spreading colors first to allow them to fully open. As you may be beginning to imagine, this is a delicate process, and by no means an exact one.
APPLICATION & TECHNIQUE
Once the colors are balanced as desired, begin carefully dropping the colors onto the size.
Using a whisk, or other applicator, randomly apply several drops of any given color, according to the color sequence established during the balancing of the paints. Avoid applying too much of one particular color. Instead, apply the color you wish to be the outstanding color early (if not first) in the sequence to allow it to spread the most. Use the location and quantity of the colors to achieve the desired effect. The surface is saturated, or "full," when additional drops of color no longer spread out over the surface or begin to sink. Using combs, picks or other tools, manipulate the colors into a pattern.
(*Note: We suggest anyone considering developing this technique to look at some of the many books on the art of marbleizing that have examples of patterns. These resources will give a greater knowledge of materials and techniques).
Transferring Pattern to Paper/Fabric
Once the pattern is created, carefully lay the paper or fabric onto the surface. This should be done by holding opposite corners of the paper or cloth, then allowing the center to touch the surface of the medium first. Let go of the corners and the paper will lay down evenly. Allow 3-5 seconds for the pattern to transfer. Gently pick up the paper/fabric at its corners, allow excess medium to come off. Carefully wash off excess color and size with cool water. Hang to dry.
Any fabrics that are intended to be laundered must be heat-set after the garment has completely dried. Follow the heat set directions for the GAC 900.