Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Paper Marbling

Marbled paper is created by floating ink on water. The inks can be blown or combed into patterns. Then, a sheet of paper is laid on top of the water and the ink leaves patterns on the paper. Marbled paper is sometimes used in books and as stationery. Like fingerprints, each sheet of marbled paper is unique.

By the 1100s, the Japanese were creating marbled papers. They used black and blue ink to make patterns that looked like smoke. The Japanese were very careful when they dropped the ink onto the water. They didn’t use combs to move the ink around so they wanted to be sure to drop it where they wanted it. They then blew across the water to make the smoky patterns.

In the 1400s, people in Turkey and Persia began creating marbled papers of their own. Their style was a little different, though. Ink floated on top of water but the Turks and Persians wanted to use many colors in their marbled papers. They added something called size to the water to make it thicker. This meant that they could float paint on the water. They then used combs to create patterns in the paint.
The art of marbling spread through Europe. By the 1600s, artists were marbling paper in England, Holland, Italy, France, and Germany. Most books included marbled paper but the bookbinders didn’t know how to make it. The artists who created the paper wanted to keep their techniques secret so they could keep selling their papers.
Bookbinders in England needed a lot of the marbled paper and it was the least expensive to buy it from Holland. They didn’t want to pay taxes on the paper though, so the Dutch used the marbled paper to wrap toys before shipping them to England. The bookbinders then flattened out the creased wrapping paper to use in their books.

In 1856 a paper marbler named Charles Woolnough wrote a book about paper marbling. It told all the secrets that paper marblers had kept to themselves for hundreds of years. They were very angry with Woolnough, but there was nothing they could do. Their secret was out.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to make your own marbled paper.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

8720 / 50000 words. 17% done!

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