Marbling paper sounds easy: float paint on the surface of a bath, drag something thru the paint to create a pattern, lay the paper on the patterned paint, lift the paper, and – voila! It both is and isn’t that easy…the artist has choices about what kind of paint to use and how to make it stay on top of the water’s surface; what kinds of patterns are desired and what tools are best to achieve them; what color palette is pleasing and what paper substrate enhances it; and so on. As with so many creative endeavors, the artistry is not just in the execution, but in the years of trial and error experience that make that execution successful.
Today I want to turn the spotlight on the hand marbled papers made by two close friends (of each other and of Wet Paint): Sally Power and Sue Bjerke. Their papers are a testament to their dedication to the craft of marbling…each sheet is a stand-alone work of art! Although Sally and Sue both teach at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and both use similar materials, their styles are very distinctive and unique. Ask to see the gorgeous work of these two local artists the next time you visit the Paper Counter at Wet Paint.
Sally’s patterns can be quite lively and contemporary. She often marbles onto different colored or toned papers, and shares the pattern name, type of paper, and grain direction on the back of each sheet. This info is very helpful for the box maker or book artist. I should also mention that, in addition to her full marbled sheets, she has created a pattern unique to her, that she calls “white space marbles,” where she intentionally leaves a section of the sheet almost blank. Her reasoning is that you can add a verse, or maybe even someone’s name, on that blank space.
Sue’s papers on the other hand, are brightly colored on a bright white paper. Her designs are marbled and over-marbled so they are super psychedelic, though her patterns tend to be more traditional than Sally’s.
These papers are hand marbled in Minnesota on machine-made paper and are roughly 17×23″ in size.
My name is Verra Blough, and I have been the Paper Department Manager at Wet Paint for 25 amazing years. Wet Paint stocks over 20,000 individual sheets and 2,000 unique styles of paper, including papers from all over the world: China, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Philippines, Portugal, Thailand, and the USA. We have some locally made ones, too!
Whether you’re looking for a surface for drawing, painting or printmaking, or a decorative sheet for bookbinding, invitations, or collage, I have the good fortune of seeing all of them and working with many of them…it would be my pleasure to help you find the perfect paper for your project. With that in mind, I will be blogging about paper each week, highlighting some of my favorites, as well as some helpful hints. Let’s get started in exploring paper!