Well, I’m back playing with fabric, but this time it’s marbling. Marbling has never been one of my favorite surface designs until I saw Jo Fitsell demo it on Quilting Arts TV. I taped that show and watched it several times before I purchased her video from Interweave – Marbled Fabric Surface Design Working with Floating Paint, Stencils and More. If you are at all interested in marbling, her video is wonderful.
While writing this post, in addition to the above video and tv show, I researched this topic and have listed below just a few of the links to articles on marbling fabric for those who want to dig a little deeper.
- Quiltnet compilation posts about marbling fabric
- Dharma Trading marbling directions
- Golden Fluid Acrylics Marbling Pdf
- Textile Arts Center Blog on marbling fabric
- About.com Quilting on how to marble on fabric
Here are some of my new marbled pieces. This may be my new obsession. Jo was my inspiration in that her work focuses on these circles. To me, they give a real organic feel. I had not seen marbling done like that until I searched the Internet and found a couple other artists who, like Jo, don’t manipulate the paints. Gretchen and Garrett Dixon have done research on marbling and have some beautiful examples and even have names for the designs. Real eye candy! Marjorie Lee Bevis creates some beautiful fabric called Rainbow Stones.
Since I’ve got so much to say about this technique, I’ll be breaking it down into several posts. On this one I’ll show how you can do this (Yes, you can!). This tutorial is a compilation of research from a number of sources including Jo’s video and TV spot.
Here is what you need:
- plastic pan – I used a storage container
- carrageenan – This thickens the water so that the paint will sit on top. This can be ordered online. It is expensive but goes a long way. If you have a group, you might go in together on it and share.
- fluid acrylics – You can probably use other acrylics and just water them down more. I’ve also seen where airbrushing inks can be used. I’ll be experimenting more in the future.
- containers and pipettes/eye droppers for acrylics
- alum – can be found in grocery store with spices or ordered online
- newsprint/newspaper – I’d be hesitant to use newspaper due to the inks. Newsprint can be purchased at your local art store.
- fabric – I used white muslin and some of my previously dyed material
- spoon or something used to mix
- plastic to cover workspace
- OPTIONAL: GAC 900 or other fabric painting medium if you plan to use this material in clothing or something you will need to wash. I did not use this since my fabric will be used in wall hangings or projects where I won’t need to wash them.
One thing about this type of play, there is some prep. It’s not something you can decide to do in the morning. But that’s okay with me. It just gave me something to think about and plan for. The day before marbling, the fabric needs to be soaked in alum. The alum helps the paint to adhere to the fabric. Mix 2 tablespoons of alum to two gallons of water and let the fabric soak for 20 minutes or so. Don’t leave it in for a long time since it can break down the fabric fibers.
Don’t rinse out. Squeeze out the water and hang to dry.
There are a lot of different ways to mix up the carrageenan including mixing up the night before. This is the one that worked for me. I made it in the morning and it took about two hours to turn clear. This must be mixed up with a blender or it won’t set up. For this bath I use two tablespoons of carrageenan per gallon of water. To do this, blend up a tablespoon at a time in a blender of water and pour into container. Then add remaining water and stir.
While it was setting up I prepared the paints and got the workspace all ready.
The paint needs to be thinned with water – 1/1 ratio for liquid acrylics. Use the pipette/eye dropper to mix the paints. I used Golden Liquid Acrylics in the following colors: Carbon Black, Titanium White, Titan Buff, Cerulean Blue Deep, Quinacridone Magenta, Yellow Oxide and Chromium Oxide Green. I chose these colors because I liked them and thought they would look good on some of my previously dyed fabrics.
Once the carragenen is clear you are ready. Check out the paints by using a pipette and dropping paint on the carragenen water. If the paint falls to the bottom, more water needs to be added to the paint.
Let’s get start! I was so excited that I didn’t take many process pictures. This is so much fun. Just drop the paint on the top of the surface. It will make circles.
I continued to add more paint. When I was happy with the design I placed the fabric lightly on the top of the paint, smoothing the fabric so that it had contact with the water surface.
Then the fabric was pulled carefully out of the bath and placed on a piece of newsprint.
This was my first print on white muslin.
When finished marbling, move each fabric and piece of newsprint to a place where they can dry. After the fabric dries on the newsprint sheet (which took some of my pieces from 24-48 hours), peel it off and then hand wash it in warm water with dish detergent. After it is washed out, hang it again to dry before you iron it and use it in your project.
Here are all of my pieces waiting to dry.
This is one of my favorites. This ice dyed piece I had stamped over with some of my small wood fabric stamps. In this post you can see the actual piece before marbling. I really didn’t like the ice dyeing so I covered it up with stamps and it still was not my favorite. This did it! And you can still see the stamping through the marbling. Love that layering!
Thanks to Jo Fitsell for her informative video which inspired me to try marbling. Again, if you want to learn from a pro, check out her video here.
Combining this with my ice dyed materials may be my favorite surface design technique so far. I hope this post will encourage you to try marbling. It is so much fun. I’ve got more to share so come on back. If you already marble, I’d love any tips you have.
Love love love the layered one, Lynda…so pretteh! Did you make any by swirling a pick through the circles? I am just watching you go girl! BTW, Scarlet’s opening recep is tonight in New Harmony. I will be there. And there is a textile exhibit at the Contemporary gallery too.
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Kathy, Thanks. Yes I did but that’s for another post!! I won’t make it tonight, but will definitely come up there to see her exhibit.
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Oh, VERY cool!!
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I keep telling myself I will try fabric marbeling… been saying it for years, but you might have tipped the scales in favor of my trying it soon! I especially like the piece where you marbeled on the ice-dyed fabric… beautiful!
Kristina and Michelle, Thanks.
Judy, GREAT!!! It would look lovely over your dyed fabrics! I’d love to see what you do.
GORGEOUS! I hope to try it one day…Lori
WOW — I like this so much better than most of the marbled fabrics I see, I guess because it looks more contemporary. Love the depth in the last piece.
First,I don’t leave on a comment very often, I follow a lot of blogs! Lol…but I did want to let you know that I read all of yr posts and I so enjoy them! You are so talented! I also enjoy your Husbands post so much as well!
Anyway, 😀 I have a question, and it may be a dumb one!, but the water bath….you have many different colors of marbled fabric, were you able to remove the previous color from the surface of the carragenen bath, and change the colors, or did you have several different baths set up? I know silly question! Thank you! Hope you are having a great weekend!
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Mary, Thank you so much for your kind words about our blog posts. I’ll pass on the compliment to Dave.
No silly questions!! I only had one bath and usually if the material covers the whole container, it will take most of the paint with it. If it didn’t I just let it stay and continued with my next project. Several tutorials say if you don’t want that excess paint on the surface after the pull, take a piece of newspaper and pull the colors off. Now thinking about that, I did use newspaper (just waded it up) to pull some of the color off the surface just a couple of times.
Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.
Sherrie, Thanks! I also love the depth. Thanks for commenting.
Lori, Thanks. It’s fun!
Absolutely fab! Love the marble design and color combinations. Great blog post.
I tried marbling once last year, and wasn’t thrilled with the paints I was using (they were part of a intro to marbling kit). I’m going to give it another try and see how using these Golden acrylics works, as it was a very enjoyable process!
Link to my blog about it: http://www.periwinklequilts.blogspot.com/2012/08/marbling-experiments.html
Laura, I’ve done a little marbling but not on fabric and have never been happy with the results. I also tried one of those kits. But this marbling with Golden Fluid Acrylics really works well and I was really pleased with my first try. I’m off to check out your link. Thanks for dropping by.
I had just wanted to say thank you for all the information both in technique, materials, and visuals of your efforts that I have enjoyed intensely over the past few days since finding your site. I rarely ever comment but thought that I absolutely owed you a huge thank you for all that you have given and inspired me in. I have caught the fabric dyeing and manipulation bug too so this is a particularly informative site for me with the wealth of knowledge on a variety of techniques! Curious if you have tried combining the marbeling with the gelatin yet? I had started wondering how this might turn out if the geli plate was made with more water and thus creating a non solid base. If I try it any time soon I will take picts and notes along the way for you to see and either scratch off your list as a good idea not so good outcome or add it to the list of want to try’s!
Thanks for your comment!! So glad you found my site. Did you see my last post on using the gelli printing plate over the marbing? It’s the last two pictures where I used the marbled material. https://lyndaheines.blog/2013/02/gelli-printing-pwith-potato-mashers-wisk/ Regarding making your gelatin plate, it needs to be solid to work. I’d love to see what you create. Thanks for dropping by.
Ok this is so amazingly cool I can hardly stand it!!
I find your website interresting, and informative. Most of my marbling is on wooden objects that I have turned on a wood lathe. I can pick you usefull information on sites. You mentioned getting alum from a supermarket spice section, I have heard that this alum is not the same as the alum used in marbling, but if it works for you go with it.
Hi Vern, Marbling on wooden objects – that sounds like fun! I thought about that when I was using the skewers to make patterns. There was a pattern on the skewer. Pretty interesting! Regarding the alum, I did extensive research on marbling when I started and I found no information that said that the alum in the grocery store was any different from that you can buy from marbling resources. In fact, several of the marbling “experts” recommended buying from the grocery store or online. Most of my students in my class this past month bought their alum from the grocery store and had great results. However, since I’ve been doing a lot of marbling I did buy my latest supply of alum from a marbling supplier and it was cheaper than the grocery store alum. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
I know I am kinda late to the party but I wanted to mention that carrageenan and Irish Moss are the same thing. Irish moss is used for brewing beer (amongst other things) and can be purchased for a bit less through the brewing communities and can also be purchased in smaller amounts which makes it more affordable. I had serious sticker shock at the price of carrageenan when I first checked it out.
Hi Ruthee, So glad you came to the party! I knew carrageenan was moss but didn’t realize it could be purchased from brewing companies. Wow! That would be great to make it more affordable. Thank you so much for that info. I will definitely check that out.
I design clothes all my life I seen this thirty yrs ago n
Could never fine it again love this got try it will test it thanks very pretty
How and when do you use the Gac 900
Clara, I only use it if I’m planning on washing the finished fabric. For instance, if I would use the fabric for clothing or items that would need to be washed. Since I was only making these to stretch on canvas and hang on the wall, I knew I’d never wash them. I added it with the paint. Thanks for dropping by.
i want to use my fabric in a quilt, what do I need to do to make the marbling color fast.
Susan, I would add Gac 900 to the paints if you are planning to wash the fabrics as in a quilt or clothing. As far as colorfast, I have no idea if the color will stay. Sorry I’m not help.
Very well written! I’ll be linking to this post in my article on dying fabric for cross stitching. Blessings to you and yours! Marie @ http://stitchesneedlesthreads.com
Marie, Thanks! I appreciate the link when you put it up. Thanks for dropping by.
we like your water marbling on fabric and we want your class videos to watch online and we are from india andhra pradesh,proddatur,kadapa district
Krupa, Thanks for commenting. However, I don’t have any videos on marbling. Check out Jo Fitzell’s video here: http://www.interweavestore.com/marbled-fabric-surface-design-download. Check out You Tube for other free videos. Good luck!
hi lynda ive a few questions for you if you could help me out i would really appreciate it. im studying fashion at the moment in ireland and i wanted to know about marbling. also i am new at this thanks
what kind of paints do i need to marble on fabric wool etc?
is it possible to marble the edges of fabric if thats my design?
is it possible to marble on leather?
is it possible to get paints that have a metallic finish and marble onto fabric?
any info would be much appreciated. thank you in advance karla
Hi Karla, First of all thanks for dropping by and understand that I am not an expert on marbling. However, I can give you answers as far as what I know and my experience.
1. I have no idea about marbling on wool. Have never tried it.
2. You can marble to the edges of the fabric.
3. Yes, you can marble on leather but I’ve not done that. You can also marble on pottery and wood.
4. I’ve not had success with metallic paint. They seem to be heavier and have a harder time floating on the size (thickened water).
Hope that helps. Good luck!
hi ,I love how your colours are so bright.My problem isthe carrageenan never turns clear it is still a brown colour even though I put it through a blender and followed directions via Jo Fitsells dvd. I have tried twice now .and still not happy with the results the colours aren’t as bright as yours and I have to swirl the carrageenan with a spoon after about five pieces of fabric to mix the dropped paint I have thinned theGolden acrylics down quite a lot. I thought you might have a solution to my problem the carrageenan is from a soap company and it is called carrageenan powder it smells like seaweed so I’m hoping it is the same product you use. Thankyou Suellen PS I also washed fabric dried then soaked in Alum and dried before marbling.
Yes, carrageenan will smell like seaweed because that’s what it is. I’ve never had trouble with it turning clear, but it needs to be at room temperature. Did you let it set for several hours or overnight? If you’ve followed Jo’s directions, it has to be your carrageenan. It may just not be strong enough to use as a marble size. OR it may be your water. Have you tried making it with bottled drinking or distilled water? If that doesn’t work, I’d buy some that is specifically for marbling and try again. Also, I only thinned my Golden down 1 water/1 paint so it’s still pretty dark. Hope that helps.
What a great, concise and easy to follow tutoria. Your enthusiasm comes through all the time. Many thanks.
Hi Ingrid, Thanks! I’m planning on a new tutorial on marbling again soon. Thank you for dropping by.