Materials Used In Classical Turkish Marbling
Gum Tragacanth (kitre): Gum tragacanth is obtained from the trunk of a thorny plant which grows naturally in the Anatolian, Persian and Turkistan mountains and is called “geven”. The sap oozing from scratches made on the branches later dries and solidifies into bone white color pieces. It is dropped in water with very low hardness at the rate of 20-40 grams/3 liters and kept for a while. The gum having dissolved completely is filtered through a cloth bag and poured into the basin. It should have the density of buttermilk. About 1 part of gum tragacanth should be added to 100 parts of water and the liquid should be left for at least one night to allow the gum to dissolve. The liquid then should be strained through a cloth and poured into the marbling tank. If it is too thick, some water may be added to thin it. The degree of viscosity should vary according to the darkness or lightness of the colors being used. Gum tragacanth keeps the dyes on the surface by giving body to the water and because of its transparent slightly sticky nature it forms a lacquer over the dyes. Gum tragacanth is widely used as herbal medicine (in throat and stomach diseases) and in the cosmetic and textile industry.
Dyes: The colors used in marbling are “mineral dyes”, as they are called in the classical method, and they are obtained from natural metal oxides. There are also a few vegetable dyes. Anatolia is a very rich country in respect of such natural dyes. Many kinds of soil can be first made into mud then filtered and crushed to form a dye. The dyes are ground into fine powder by crushing them on marble with a specially shaped mortar pestle made of marble. Each of these powdered dyes is placed in a separate glass jar to which a small quantity of water and five to ten drops of ox bile are added.
Paintbrushes: Marbling requires the use of special, coarse horsehair bound around a rose tree stick in a manner to form a circumference with a hollow center. Rose tree is preferred because it prevents mould. Brushes of different thickness and length enable application and control of the dye. The length and degree of packing among the brush bristles is important.
Basin or Tanks: Tanks should be made of pinewood, zinc or galvanized metal and they generally measure 35 by 50 centimeters or 17.5 by 25 centimeters, larger than the paper size (to offset the dilatation of paper when wet). These tanks have a depth of about 5 to 6 centimeters (2 to 2.5 inches). Tanks made of other materials hinder the dispersion of the dyes.
Water: Water should be calcium free to avoid fading and ozone free to keep the gum tragacanth from foaming and deteriorating. It is preferable without hardness. The ideal is distilled water. In older times, rainwater was preferred but because of acid rain in our times it is no longer advisable.
Paper: Marbling can be done on all types of paper, cloth, wood, veneers, ceramics, pottery and glass using only mineral dyes and natural indigo and without additives. But the ideal paper is the one that is handmade, has a high absorption capacity and is acid-free. On account of its rarity and high cost we do not advise it for beginners. Instead any kind of non-glossy paper may be used.
Bile (Ox-Gall): This is the most important material for marbling. A marbling artisan must understand well what is gall and what are its functions. It can be said that the secret of the marbling lies in the gall. Because of these solvent-like and adhesive-like properties, the gall that is used in marbling prevents the dye from remaining on the surface of the gum tragacanth solution and avoids dispersion and color mixing. Different types of galls are used to achieve different results. Ox gall allows the dyes to spread; turbot bile is used to achieve a “sandy” pattern whereas chicken bile stabilizes the white areas achieved with naphtha. Boiled bile will lose its properties. Therefore either fresh or pasteurized bile should be used. Its main functions are:
a. To ensure surface tension so that dye spreads over the water surface otherwise it sinks;
b. To prevent mixing of dyes. For instance when blue and yellow are simultaneously applied and mixed up as much as possible, green never appears;
c. To assist dye fixation on the paper;
d. To give different shades of the same color and different size of patterns.
These marbled paper arts will be packaged with care and shipped to you rolled in cardboard tubes to prevent damage during shipment.
Shipping additional papers are FREE within the same order, so whether you order 1 or 10 sheets shipping cost will be the same.
We apologize that we cannot offer lower shipping rates.
Paper Marbling is an ancient art of painting on an aqueous base. The colors are dropped on to the surface using whisks,
and then they are manipulated with rakes and combs to create the intricate designs you see here. Unlike traditional print-making,
marbling can only be done one sheet at a time, therefore each sheet is unique and an exact copy cannot be reproduced
The Process of Making Marbled Paper
Marbling is similar to cooking, it is impossible to prescribe an exact recipe.
Everyone has his own mixture of colors and patterns that he wishes to reflect to
the world. The process of marbling begins with dissolving gum tragacanth in water.
This water is then poured into the tank. Then the dyes to be used are emptied from
the jars one after another using the brushes and are sprinkled onto the solution.
Each of the dyes added, strewn one onto the other, produce attractive figures.
A sheet of paper of the required size is placed on the marbling container and
the image created by the dyes on the surface of the waters is impregnated on the papers.
The paper is then removed and left to dry. The tank is then ready for another marbling operation.
Marbling results from the simultaneous operation of many accurate balances.
Purity and application rules must be strictly observed. The density of the
gummed water and the relationships between the water and the dye, the dye and
the tensioning agent (gall), and the quantity of gall in the dye are all very
important. It may take some time to establish the right delicate balance.
But when everything is ready, marbling is easily and quickly performed.
This property of the marbling makes it very suitable for a “therapy”.
Dyes are spotted on the surface of water by means of paintbrushes and on the basis of the
quantities and colors desired. Dyes should not be too concentrated. Concentric, superposed
drops thus applied form a pattern called “Battal”.
This pattern is the origin of almost all others. Now if this basic pattern is handled by
parallel lines made by a thin pencil or chip moved back and forth, you obtain “the back-and-forth”.
If this design is crossed out by means of a comb, a “combed-pattern” is obtained.
In case the “back-and-forth” is diagonally crossed again, it becomes a “shawl” sample.
Combed marbling may be made into a back-and-forth or shawl design. When a convolute line
is applied from the outer circumference towards the center, you obtain a “nightingale nest”(bulbul yuvasi).
When small colorful dots are spotted on the back-and-forth or shawl design, you get the “sprinkled marbling”.
If instead you apply larger dots (which means a higher rate of gall contents), you
obtain the “porphyry marble” effect which most resembles marble. Nevertheless, the above mentioned patterns
may be diversified by selecting one of them as a basis and making concentric drops of different colors.
The preacher of Ayasofya Mosque in Istanbul, Mehmed Efendi (d. 1773), was the first to form flower and
other patterns which were subsequently called the “Orator pattern” (Hatip ebrusu). Later on, these patterns
developed into flower shaped marbling.
The sheet of paper is laid from one side onto any of the above designs prepared on the gummed water in the basin.
Now, this processing makes the dye fixed on the paper. The paper is then carefully lifted off the basin without
stripping too much of the gum from the surface. In classic Turkish marbling, the paper taken out of the basin is
not washed off. The thin layer of gum remaining on the surface forms a protective (fixing) coat.
The paper is laid on a flat surface and allowed to dry.