Friday, August 10, 2012

Ebru Paper Marbling

 When I was younger I can remember doing an art project with water, paint and paper. In which you poured small amounts of paint onto water and then gently placed a paper on top to create a one of a kind print. This project was always one of my favorite memories.  But everytime I tried to recreate the project I had done as a kid, it always ended up in a failure of attempts and frustration.

A few weeks back I had come across a youtube video in which several beautiful images were created by using a special chemical solution in water and ink applied to the surface. The technique dates back as far as the 10th century and was used by many cultures to marble paper, fabric and other materials.

Paper Marbling was exactly what I had done as a kid and wanted to share with my kids and the kids I work with.  But I wasn't sure how safe the chemical solution was for children so I went about thinking of new ways to do the project but still achieve the same or at least similar results.

Here is what I came up with and the supplies you will need:

  • Trays (We use throw away trays that are found in the baking isle of your grocery stores. These can be used multpile times.)
  • Vegetable oil and water in a tray
  • Corn syrup in a tray
  • Liquid corn starch in a tray (you can buy this at the grocery store with the laundry soap or you can heat up corn starch and water as I did to make a sort of thick liquid. Be warned though that this does congeal when cold and doesn't work well then. Also let cool slightly before using as it is very hot.)
  • Tempura paints
  • Water to thin paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Tooth picks
  • Old combs
  • Straws (for mixing or blowing bubbles into the oil and water tray)
  • Paper (we used a medium thick cardstock)
  • Newspaper to put down to limit mess and to dry prints on

The process is pretty simple. Simply pour in the paint and use a toothpick, paint brush, comb, etc. to mix and swirl the paint on the surface to create the image you want. Once achieved, place a piec of your cardstock gently on the top of the liquid and count to 5. Then pull it up gently and viola.  If you want darker coloring, you can leave it on the water for a longer amount of time.

The paint can be applied straight from the bottle or can be watered down and poured into the pans. I recommend using small cups if pouring with little kids so that they don't dump large amounts of watered down paint into the pan.

Also, the oil and water pan has to have paint that is thinned down and applied carefully or it will sink to the bottom and you won't be able to make your prints. This one can be a little tricky for younger kids but is still very fun to explore and play around with.

I will also warn you that the corn syrup is sticky and will stick to everything while drying. This is why I recommend laying them in the sun on newspaper. That way you can cut around the newspaper once they are dry. Sometimes they are a little tacky after they're dry, but are very pretty and fun to make.

 Each of the ingrediant trays creates a different type of marbling effect. Which allows for quite the exploration and discussion between kids during the project time.

 The one on the left here is corn syrup while the image on the right shows the results from the liquid corn starch. The image above (with the hand pour liquid froma cup) shows the tray with oil and water.

I found that this project was rather successful in teaching young kids about primary and secondary colors as the colors will mix together, creating new ones when the kids swirl the colors around. This is also a great sensory project and allows for creative exploration.

By the end of our project time however, most trays had become goop. But the kids had a great time.

As always, we would love to see any variations you may have on the idea or your beautiful works of art.
Happy creating!

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