Basically, traditional marbling is where thinned, water based paints, are dropped onto a prepared "size", manipulated with sticks, combs and/or brushes and then applied to paper or fabric which is prepared to accept the paints.
Sounds complex, doesn't it? It doesn't need to be!
There are different types of materials which can be used as the size in marbling. It basically is something which creates a surface you can float your paints on and manipulate them before applying to the fabric. I've used a couple of the traditional ones, Carageenan is one- it can go bad pretty quickly, takes 24 hours to set and is extremely expensive. Methocel is another option- but it needs to be blended with ammonia to work and is a bit trickier. Then I remembered MANUTEX. Manutex is a Colourcraft product, often used with Procion dyes to thicken them for different techniques. I had used some the previous summer and wondered if it could work as a marbling size. It can!!
Basic instructions for fabric marbling with Manutex:
- Mix 2 heaping teaspoons of Manutex with one litre of warm water and let sit for 2 hours
- pour into a shallow container larger than your fabric
- Mix 2 teaspoons of Alum (used for pickling as well as other things) in 4 liters of warm water for treating your fabric.
- Soak your fabric in the Alum mixture and hang dry or dry flat. NB! Ironing fabric while it is treated with the alum could cause it to burn.
- Blend Colourcraft acrylic paints with water until they can be picked up easily with a dropper, you might also need to add Ox Gall (usually used with watercolour paints)- a few drops can help your paints to float better.
- Drop your colors onto the shallow container of Manutex- use combs, toothpicks etc to make designs.
- Lay your dry, treated fabric gently on the top of the bath and pull off (the paint should stick to the fabric)
- Immediately rinse your fabric gently under cool running water. The object here is to get the size and any extra paints off- the design should stay on the fabric!
- Let your fabrics dry, and then heat set.
Dropping and combing color on the manutex
Lay the fabric onto the size, gently pat and pull off.
You can also just let the colors spread without combing to get a different effect.
Here are all the fabrics dried and heat set:
One thing I'm using these fabrics for are some miniature crazy quilt blocks for my #tamarama2020sal, Twenty art/crazy quilt blocks sewn in 2020. The mini blocks are for my "light" version. More info can be found here.
If you want to see another method of marbling check out these blogs :