Paper Marbling: The method behind the viral video
Lately, a video of artist Garip Ay recreating Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” has gone viral. In the video, Ay uses a technique called paper marbling, which has actually been around for centuries. Paper marbling originated in Asia, and was passed to Europeans and Americans through the Turkish people. For this reason, it is also called Turkish marbling or ebru, which is the Turkish name for the process. The technique has traditionally been used to decorate book covers or stationary with marble patterns. Recently, nail artists have even come up with a way to use it for nail art. Ay’s video shows a different kind of application for the technique. It is unique because it is an example of how paper marbling can be used to create representational paintings rather than simpler abstract designs. The process behind Ay’s painting is surprisingly simple, though achieving his level of mastery would certainly take some dedication.
Paper marbling works through the application of color to a liquid surface. Usually this surface is water or a slightly more viscous substance called size. Ink or paint is floated on a shallow tray of water or size, then carefully transferred to a surface like paper or cloth. The ink or paint colors are combined with additives meant to help them float, which also prevent the colors from mixing. This allows artists to make concentric rings of color, which they can then manipulate into different patterns. The manipulation of these colors is a delicate process accomplished by either blowing through a straw or using fine tipped tools like split bamboo to move the ink. Once the desired pattern is achieved, it can be transferred to paper to dry. If you are interested in learning more about the paper marbling process, check out this video of paper marbling in the ’70s.