First,a great set of instructions on how to marble fabric can be found here:
Essentially, marbling is floating paint on the surface of a size (viscous liquid), manipulating the paints so they flow into interesting designs, then laying down a sheet of fabric or paper on the surface to pick up the paint. It’s a lot of fun but does involve a lot of prep work:
- use silk or cotton.
- wash in synthrapol
- soak in alum (so the fabric holds the paint)
- let dry at room temperature
- iron with a cool iron.
- put together a box to hold the size (I used a cardboard box lined with plastic)
- mix the size (I used methocel, but had to run out and get some ammonia at the last moment so it would dissolve properly)
- mix fabric paint with water and a little acrylic dispersant (to help the colors flow better)
- use baby food jars to get cheap glass jars
- bundles of broomstraw–cut bristles off a straw broom and tie together into small bundles, for applying paint
- rakes and combs–I made mine by cutting strips of corrugated cardboard, then gluing toothpicks into the cut end of the corrugations at a regular spacing – 3 inches, 2 inches, 1 inch, 1/2 inch, 1/4 inch
You use the bundles of broomstraw to apply paint–dip in thinned-down paint, and tap the straws to shake off small droplets of paint onto the size. The paint spreads out as you apply it.
Then you take the rakes and combs and draw them through the size, which pulls the spots of color into interesting patterns (see the URL at the top of this blog entry for some examples). Then–the magical part–you take the fabric and lay it on top of the pretty swirls, and it takes up the paint immediately! Pull it off and swish it around in a bucket of water, hang to dry. Fix paints by ironing on the back for 30 seconds, rinse out completely, and you’re done!
That said, it took my mom and me all day (minus five hours for a trip to the Asian Art Museum and Britex Fabrics) to marble 18 pieces of fabric. I’ll post photos of the best ones once I finish the process. We mostly did orange/red/yellow patterns (for the flame top), blue-green ones (for the blue/green/purple top), and yellow/purple ones (because my mom liked the colors). It’s definitely time-consuming.
I’m tempted to take a “real” course in marbling, just so I can get some more experience in it. I’m not too tempted to marble on my own–it’s fun, but it’s also a LOT of work and is best done with two people, IMO. I’m glad I did those pieces, though.
Next on the hit parade: dye some silk in flame colors (mostly red) and stamp with gold and orange metallic colors. I may do some dyeing with the silk/rayon velvet, too. It all depends how much free time and how much energy I have for dyeing.
I’ll post photos when I get a chance.