Intern Insights: Paper Marbling Workshop

Guest post by Brenda Thompson

In her blog post a couple weeks ago, Brooke told you about the process of creating marbled paper, and showed you a book from the University of Nashville collection that we are processing.

Fortuitously, just after that blog post was published, I discovered that we were going to have the opportunity to actually make marbled paper ourselves!

On Tuesday, April 4, from 11 am until 2 pm, just outside the Central Library entrance, Vanderbilt Libraries presented The Art of Marbled Paper, a pop-up workshop, featuring local artist Lesley Patterson-Marx.

Lesley had already prepared both trays of water solution and paper for us to use. We chose paint colors; then Lesley instructed us to further prepare the water solution by pulling either a straight edge or strips of newspaper gently over the surface of the water to create surface tension.

Now for the paint! To apply paint, we each used a bundle of broom straw, tightly wound at the end with a rubber band.  After dipping the broom straw into the paint, we gently tapped it against our forearms (to provide a bit more force) to spatter the paint into the water, using this same process for each color we had chosen. At this point in the process, the water looked like this:

Once the design was to our liking, Lesley showed us how to lay the paper gently over the water, and then to apply newspaper strips over the remainder of the water, in order to soak up the surrounding paint:

It’s time for the reveal!


Voila! All that remained was to rinse the newly marbled paper and hang it to dry:


It turned out to be a beautiful day for outdoor crafting, and lots of other students and visitors stopped by to take advantage of Lesley’s expertise. And for those so inclined (as Brooke and I were), a curator was available for a tour of the library’s exhibits of 18th century books with marbled endpapers.

What an educational and enjoyable experience!

To learn more about Lesley’s works — and particularly her paper marbling — visit her website.




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