Liquid colors are combed into intricate patterns before being carefully caught onto large pieces of paper. The resulting sheets are used to cover hand-bound books at Douglas Cockerell & Son Bookbinders in Grantchester, England, circa 1970. This classic British educational film from the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service is called Art of the Marbler.
Cockerell marbler William Chapman and 17-year-old apprentice Peter Rogers delicately demonstrate the centuries-old craft of paper marbling with diligent attention. From the narration:
Every marbled paper is a separate and unique original, individually made. The process is centered on a bath of fluid made from ‘carrageen seaweed‘ to which other chemicals are added. Various colors are used, and these are transferred by devices called combs or rakes to the bath. The patterns produced are dependant not only on the skill of the operator but also on the nature of the comb used…
Color is added directly to the seaweed fluid where it floats. Because of the unique qualities of the seaweed bath, the colors, which are watercolors, will not mix. One will repel the other.
Watch these paper marbling, paper, and book videos next:
• The art of suminagashi or Japanese paper marbling
• Van Gogh’s Starry Night painted on dark water by Garip Ay
• The traditional Turkish paper marbling art of Ebru
• The art of making a book: Setting type, printing, and binding by hand