The stereotype of the solitary artist toiling away at his or her canvas I find to be only partially true. Time alone for inspiration, reflection, and work is indeed essential. However, I have found the company of like minded artist to be essential as well. Sharing each others' journeys and learning from one another can be reassuring, grounding and inspiring.
This past month I had the good fortune to be invited to join several other artists to learn the art of making paper and marbling paper. With my new found love of print making this opportunity was fortunate indeed! Both are very ancient arts and it was wonderful to learn from two experienced artists, Merrilyne and John. And organized by the ever so cheerful and energetic Lucinda! A special thank you to St. John's College and Annapolis Signcraft for the generous use of their studios.
I am always looking for an excuse for a new book to read. As soon as I received the invitation, I of course started looking for resources to prepare myself. I found this book on the school studio shelves (part of a donation of art books we received several years ago). Albeit a bit dated, it is an excellent over all resource. Below is a gallery that walks through the paper making process.
The adventure in paper with the Creative Cabal that I was privileged to be a part of was in the art of marbling. The "bible" of this process is shown here. The text was truly helpful and our host made several hard copies of each pattern page which had the step outlined clearly on it so we could refer to as we created our own works. Recommended supplies included:
Colophon Book Arts Supplies
BookMakers which is a local Maryland company.
Before you can begin marbling there is the preparation of the paper with mordant, a thin coating of alum which gives the paper tooth and thereby makes it more receptive to the pigments. It is important that the coated papers have several days to dry before marbling. Then the pigments themselves must be prepared by careful mixing. Lastly, the baths of water and carrageenan (dissolved seaweed)are prepared. One of the greatest pleasures of this creative day was learning this process with my son, Ben.
First the bath is leveled, cleaned, and cleared of air bubbles. Then the pigment is added. The pigment floats on top of the carrageenan bath.
Below is video walking you through the marbling process. I hope you enjoy watching them and it inspires you to give this a try!
Below that is a gallery of our works, showing just some of the patterns you can create through this process. Along with different patterns it is also possible to achieve a three dimensional "folded" illusion by carefully shifting the paper in the bath. Ben was the master of this techniques called "Spanishing."