Jemma Lewis is based in Wiltshire and runs a marbling studio called Jemma Lewis Marbling & Design. She works in traditional and contemporary marbling and recently showed us her beautiful process, showing us how you can create entirely unique hand marbled items for Christmas using your Falcon Enamelware.
HAND MARBLING THIS CHRISTMAS
First up – marbling is very messy so cover the area you are working with some newspaper and pop on an apron, I’m using my white and blue Falcon one.
I’ll be using the following Falcon Enamelware today:
18cm Pudding Basin to hold my Alum
4 mini tumblers that are going to hold my paints
Jugs which are so useful for marbling in many ways
A square tray that will hold my ‘size’ (I’m using 25cm square x 6cm deep as I’m marbling smaller pieces).
Utensil pot to hold my brushes and stylus (tip: I like to use knitting needles!)
In addition to this you will need:
A water source to gently wash your items
A space to hang or lay your papers to dry
Bucket or a separate bowl (to mix the Carrageenan “Size” in)
OR a non-food blender
A piece of cardboard and a heavy book to act as a press.
A good mix of tea towels and a sponge
Most importantly you will need both Carrageenan Moss Powder (your ‘size’ AKA the substance to float your paints on) and ‘Alum’ which acts as your mordant.
Both of these are very specialist items that cannot be substituted but we have added a combined pack of both the size and the alum to our website which will come with full mixing instructions.
I decant my size into my marbling tray using one of my jugs and ensure the consistency is similar to homemade elderflower cordial or single cream!
Let's leave those air-bubbles to dissipate for a moment and mix the Alum.
Again the Alum and instructions are available on the website. We are going to mix the Alum crystals with hot water and once dissolved it will just resemble water. I mix the Alum in a measuring jug to get the exact ratios but then decant into my bowl.
Paper is always a good place to start your marbling journey and I use 120gsm paper stock. If you want to make some gift wrap you may wish to use a lighter weight paper, for example 90gsm.
For handmade gift tags you will need heavier, for example 175gsm.
Cut your paper or card down to size so that it’s smaller than your tray.
I am using paper that has been cut down to 20cm Square.
Alum one side of the paper only - you may wish to mark an ‘X’ on to the reverse of the paper and make sure you are looking at this ‘X’ when you lay your paper down on the size.
Dip your sponge into the Alum and squeeze the excess before gently yet evenly covering the entire sheet of paper or your decoration (be it ceramic, paper-mache or wood.
You can alum several sheets at a time.
Lay your sheets with your X facing upwards and ‘alum-side-down’ which now makes it easier to lift them up and lay them on to your floating paints.
Place some cardboard with a heavy book on top to press your pile of papers for approx. 10 minutes.
Whilst those are drying you can begin to mix your paints.
I use watercolour gouache and have chosen to use Green, Red, blue and blush.
Squeeze half a tube of gouache into your mini tumbler and add a touch of water and some expanding agent which will make the paint spread.
Give them a good stir and add a small fan brush into each tumbler.
Tap off any excess paint and sprinkle drops of your paint onto the surface.
The colours can then be swirled with your knitting needle to create an array of pretty patterns.
When you are happy with your design you can lay down your sheet of paper, card or wooden decoration.
Simply lift to ‘reveal’ and lightly wash the marbled surface with water before setting aside to dry overnight.
Card can be cut or punched into decorative handmade gift tags and decorations can be lightly glossed to give a light sheen and make them more durable.
Once dry your papers will be ready to use as you wish.
Before using, skim the size with a strip of newspaper and do this again in between each sheet or paper or decoration.
Size will only be usable for about 3 days
Gouache comes in a large array of colours so to begin with use colours straight out of the tubes rather than mixing.
Practice Aluming coloured paper first as you can see exactly where you have covered.
Once dried papers will be quite curly so you may want to run an iron over the reverse or press them under some heavy books for a few days.
I hope you have great fun playing, experimenting and creating some lovely pieces using traditional marbling techniques.
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