Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Marbling Magic

In the Welsh town of Presteigne, Christopher Rowlatt creates magic. With acrylic paint, a vat of water, a knitting needle and lots of imagination, he transforms a plain sheet of paper into patterns of swirls with intense colors. As Christopher explains, it actually took him six years of experimenting to produce his first good paper.

The Japanese were the first to introduce decorative paper made with floating colors. This example was created in the ninth century.

 Christopher and his wife moved to the Welsh town more than twenty years ago to pursue their passions full time. They transformed an old dairy barn and milking parlor on the property into the working studio, where Christopher can produce twelve to fourteen sheets of paper in an hour.

A vat of size (water and carrageen moss seaweed) is literally cooked up, cooled, sieved, strained through muslin and left for two days to mature. When Christopher is in the frame of mind to create, he spatters acrylic colours, one colour at a time, onto the water. He loads the surface and swirls the colours until he is happy with the pattern. A sheet of paper is then floated on the top of the water size, quickly lifted off and dried.

He began creating the marbled effect in the traditional manner, using powder pigments and gouache with the size, but discovered that by using acrylic paints, the colours floated perfectly. He uses an old knitting needle of his mother's to draw the colours into the swirls and curls to make the desired designs. The fun of marbling is that it is unpredictable and not always precise. The challenge of marbling is that it is unpredictable and not always precise.

Besides the marbling for his company, Christopher Designs, he also restores and rebinds old books. Christopher teaches classes in his studio on both marbling and bookbinding.

Visit Christopher Rowlatt's website here for further information and inspiration.



  1. That picture of the brush, old sissors and tools makes me swoon! Great post.

  2. Annie, I've tried for a whole day to leave a comment on this post, but your page is so slow to load. Love knowing how this amazing work is done. I had no idea. Like all blondes, I know what I know & nothing else. :) xx's



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