Yearly Archives: 2012

Exploring Overmarbling, when and if …

Busy, busy, busy.  I’ve been home for almost a month and still haven’t been able to do any marbling.  Very frustrating as there were so many techniques that we had a taste of in my marbling class and I really want to spend some time with them.  Now, it looks like I’ll have to wait until the new year.

As soon as I arrived home, I had four special order books to finish.  All of them were larger (9″x12″ and 8.5″x11″) than I usually make.  Although the larger size is more impressive, I think I’ll stick to my smaller, pocket-sized fare.  I just enjoy them more.  One of the books was a sewn perfect/adhesive binding.  I hate making those, but there was no choice in this case as the pages were photographs.  I did this for a local photographer and he was pleased.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures of  the book!  He seems to think other photographers would be interested, but I’m not sure I want to do more.  I’d rather just do a clam-shell box!


Overmarbling is the technique of taking a dried piece of marbled paper and after applying alum, marbling it for a second time.  When I first learned to marble, I had done some with poor results and felt it was used mainly to try to save a piece that wasn’t very good anyway. Here’s a poor example of overmarbling:   as you can see, it’s just a simple get-gel over very large “eggs” or boulders.

This time I learned that, with careful choices of colors and patterns, you can get really spectacular results.  The second marbling can add depth, movement and definition to a piece.

Here are three pieces (above) that worked well.  Click on the thumbnail to enlarge and see if you can trace which colors and patterns are on the top layer and which are on the bottom.

Below are some combinations that didn’t work so well!

Although, even with these, there are portions that could be used in collage work or in my boxes or notepads.  It’s mainly the large sheet that just doesn’t work.

This is by far my favorite piece of overmarbling.  The colors are just right and the patterns compliment and enrich each other.

and some close-ups:

Another technique that can be used to great advantage with overmarbling is masking, but that will wait for another blog.

Three more posts on overmarbling: More  Playing  Addendum


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Around the World in Marbling

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog.  My only excuse it that I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I was away from home for a month, enjoying Washington DC, North Carolina and Texas. They all deserve separate blogs, but I probably won’t do that!  I’m going to start with the great time I had back at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

At the Folk School, I took a great marbling course with Pat Thomas.  The theme of the week was “Marbling Around the World” and we tried marbling techniques from various countries.  Japan was the first stop and I tried suminagashi marbling for the first time. It is done with Japanese ink on plain water and gives very different patterns than the usual marbling. The ink is loaded on  brushes and the tip of the bush just touches the water, leaving a bit of ink. Concentric circles are formed by repeated brush touches in the same place.  Once there is enough ink floating on the water, the surface is rippled by blowing on it or by waving a fan lightly over the surface.  There are YouTubes showing Japanese masters making all sorts of designs, even landscapes.  I made lots of circles and a few designs that began to look like something from dreams or nightmares.

As you can see, the colors are faint and look rather like topographic maps. Clicking on the thumbnails helps.  Much more practice is needed for this.


There were five people in the workshop, so there was plenty of space for everyone. Here is the room set-up showing the marbling stations and the drying racks.

Our next stop was Turkey and into the classic stone and get-gel patterns.

Then on to Spain for some Spanish ripple.

I like some of the 3-D effects this produces, but I need more practice to be able to produce nice even rolls every time. We also did the New Jersey ripple, but mine was a total mess.  I’ll try it again in my next marbling session (probably after New Years) and show you what it’s supposed to look like, with luck.

France was represented by the nonpareil and French curl patterns.


We did a lot of overmarbling, both plain and with masks, but I’m going to save that for a separate blog.

Here’s my pile of papers. Now I have to figure out what to do with all of them.  Fun times ahead!

All in all, a great time was has by everyone.




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Downsizing, or getting smaller

I’ve been playing with designs again.  This time smaller and simpler seem to be the themes.  The simplest book of all, except for the scroll, is just some paper fastened together. This lacks durability and form so a protective cover needs to be added.  If the cover is just heavier paper then the pages and the cover can easily be stitched together making a simple notepad or jotter. Since I happen to have lots of pretty heavy weight paper on hand, it’s easy.  And all the better since the heavy paper is too heavy for use in traditional books.

Here’s the result:


After making the large portfolios and medium size notepads, I decided to complete the series with a mini-notepad, just right for a pocket. These are very small: just 3″ x4″ to fit a memo pad.

I’m hoping these will make great little gifts for the holidays.  They are fun to make and don’t take nearly as much time and effort as the larger varieties.  Another plus is that I get to play with lots of combinations of papers.

Here’s the whole week’s production.





Filed under Marbled Paper, Notebooks

Frantic Fall Facts & Fantasies

Isn’t alliteration great?

I love Fall, but it’s never quite long enough to get all the buttoning-up for winter finished. I start with a long list and sometimes hope that the snow will come so I don’t have to finish everything!

On the good side, I gave the front grass its last mowing, the garden is 75% pulled out and the wood is ordered.  On the bad side, the chimney never got swept, the back acre wasn’t mowed, the wood hasn’t been delivered and the last few tomato plants are still there.

On the very good side, I designed some new items that will use up more of the paper I keep making. That should keep me amused this winter.  I’ll try to post some pictures later.  For now, I’m just enjoying the change of seasons even though the skies have been usually gray and the trees rather uninteresting this year.  Or maybe they just need a crisp, sunny autumn day to look their best.

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Success followed by frustration

I did finish last week’s marbling session by using the smaller trays to make some 11″ x 14″ and 8.5″ x 11″ sheets.  They came out very nicely and I was having a great time.  I pushed it a bit too far and the paint began to lose cohesion and the carrageenan was getting old. Fortunately, it seems that both tend to fall apart at the same time.  Guess it’s a sign that it’s time to either make new batches or close up.

Here are some of the smaller sheets:

I enjoy working with colored paper, especially dark shades, because the color of the paint is intensified and altered by the background. These sheets were made with the same colors as those above. No green or red paint was used: that’s just the color of the paper affecting the result.


Here are some closeups of the various sheets.

My frustration is that these photos are no where near the color of the original sheets.  The original photos were even worse!  I spent a lot of time adjusting the color to get the hues in the correct range, but all these sheets are way too light. I played with brightness and contrast controls, but still couldn’t get it right.  Frustrating!  All this after taking dozens of photos in several different lights with different settings.  I don’t have problems with light-colored sheets, but darks are a mess.  Rich greens also seem to always be off-color. (As is my language dealing with these!)

I have no intention of getting a better camera, but I need to be able to get accurate pictures if I want to sell the sheets on line.  Frustrating!  Compare the last sheet of the three with the same sheet (2nd from right) in the top photo.  The top is much closer to the real color of the sheet.

More pictures of the end of this session.


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Watching Paint Dry

Marbling paints, that is!  Yes, I finally got out the marbling trays again and had some fun.  My main goal was to make some more sheets with blue as the primary color.  I like it and tend to use it a lot.  I also wanted to try some monochromatic sheets. I had done a few with just green, white and black and found they form a nice contrast to my usual work. I used this piece on a portfolio.

I started out with four blues, but found that one tube hadn’t been sealed properly and the paint just wouldn’t dissolve in the water or float on the size.  Frustrating. The black was working nicely, both producing a lovely grey and a strong black, depending on how I used it and I did get a few relatively monochromatic sheets.

I also played a lot with the accent colors I had chosen.   In this case, almost overworking the pattern by adding an extra layer of raking.  In contrast, on this piece I decided to print the first pass of the stylus.       I rather like the bold result, but I’m not sure that I will be able to use it on my books. The pattern of spots was produced by paint that had not completely expanded when I started making the get-gel.  I had been intrigued with them on another piece because they looked like seed pods.

I also marbled some more maps.      I have to be careful when I work with any paper that has already been printed.  The pattern has to remain light enough that the words or pictures can still be recognized. If the pattern is too intricate or the colors too dark, the point of marbling on that type of paper is lost. I’m pleased with these maps. One is Los Angeles, the other Louisiana.

Here are groupings of all the large sheets I marbled in this session.  I’m pleased with most of them although, as usual, there are a few clunkers!

I’m still planning to do a few more small sheets as I’ve moved to the small tray now.  I have some dark card stock that I’d like to play with, but that may have to wait.

You can see more of my papers and the books and boxes I make from them at my shop, Losing Her Marbles, on Etsy or on this page.


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Corn, Tomatoes and Rabbits

I’ll start at the end.  Rabbits.  I have lots of rabbits this year due to a combination of a mild winter and lazy fox. I know there are fox around as I see them very occasionally, especially in the spring. This year I had three sightings, which is more than usual.  They just aren’t doing their job on the rabbit population, however.  Rabbits seem to love my lawn.  I suspect it’s because it isn’t really a grass lawn.  It has lots of thyme, mint and other goodies mixed in.  Smells lovely when I mow.  Yes, it needs mowing right now, but that’s another tale.  My rabbits are more curious than afraid of me, but usually they scamper off if I’m too close.  The other day, as I was taking my morning walk around the property, a rabbit darted across my path and then stopped.  I also stopped.  He, or maybe she, was about four or five feet away – just sitting and watching me.  I watched him.  He watched me.  He didn’t hunker down or lower his ears, just sat there.  After a minute or two, I decided I had work to do and walked on. He ducked under a low hanging branch and I’m sure kept watching me.  Cheeky little fellow.

I love fresh corn and I used to freeze some every year.  For various reason, I haven’t done any for several years and this year I was determined I would get some.  I hadn’t done anything about it, but happened to notice some U-Pick advertised in the local paper.  I decided I just had to do it, so I went to the farm and talked to the owner.  She said the ad was really a mistake as the corn was pretty much over, too tough, but there were some people still picking and I could try it if I wanted to.  I had to try and I’ve found the more mature corn freezes better.  The very first crop has wonderful taste, but tends to be small kernelled and turn to mush when frozen. I spoke to the others who were picking and they assured me that the corn was still good and juicy.  It looked a bit old, but at $1.50 a dozen, I decided to take a chance and get four dozen ears.  After getting home, I set up all the equipment, shucked the corn, parboiled it and started cutting it off the cob. The farmer was so right.  Definitely past its “sell-by” date.  Oh, well, maybe I can make a lot of corn soup this winter.

On a better note, more tomatoes.  I rarely grow large tomatoes as they always seem to get eaten, have bugs or rot. I stick to the cherry tomatoes and have great luck with them.  I always put in a couple of plants of the larger variety for the few tomatoes that do make it.  This year is, of course, is different.  I have a huge (well, huge for me) crop of large yellow tomatoes.  So out comes all the canning equipment and off I go.  I have put up a batch of the yellow tomatoes, a mixed batch of red & yellow and still to come a batch of over-sized cherry tomatoes.

What does this have to do with books or marbling?  Nothing, except it keeps me from playing with my toys.  I did get out the marbling trays this weekend, but that will be another blog.

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