Friday, February 5, 2010

Marbling Fabric the easy way- Tutorial

I'm going to share the way I did the marbling on this silk fabric.
It is SO easy and uses supplies you can get easily find or may even have.

This will be a no photos tutorial because it is THAT EASY!

1. A flat pan that is larger than the piece of fabric you want to marble.
2. Pieces of cotton, silk, or most any fabric cut at least 2 inches smaller than your tray. I do NOT prewash the fabrics before I marble them.
3. Alum - found in the spice section of your grocery store.
4. Liquid laundry starch
5. Acrylic artist paints in tubes
6. Small throw away cups to mix paint and water.
7. Eye droppers - can be purchased at your local pharmacy

1. Soak fabric pieces in a solution of 3T of Alum to 1 qt. warm water. Stir alum into hot water and give it time to dissolve. Allow to cool before adding fabric.
2. Remove from container and let drip dry to prevent wrinkles.
3. Pour liquid laundry starch in your container to a depth of 1" - could be deeper or shallower.
4. Squeeze a small amount of your selected colors into a cup. Add enough water to make it the consistency of heavy cream.
5. With eye dropper GENTLY drop paint onto surface of starch.
6. If it sinks to the bottom it is too thick - add a little more water. You also could be dropping it with too much force if it sinks.
7. Different colors behave differently and you will learn now they behave as you experiment.
8. Continue adding paint until you are pleased with the effect.
9. You can drop one color on top of another for an interesting effect.
10. Take a piece of your dried alumed fabric and hold it from both ends.
11.Place the center of the fabric in contact with the starch/paint container and gently lower the sides so you do not trap air bubbles as you allow the fabric to contact the surface.
12. Remove fabric as soon as it has made contact.
13. Rinse GENTLY under cold running water.
14. Hang to dry.
15. When dry press.
16. Add more paint and continue to marble more fabric.
17. You will want to continue with the same or similar colors.
18. One pan of starch will yield numerous pieces of fabric.
19. I continue marbling fabric until the starch solution is no longer deep enough to support paint.
20. I dispose of the remaining solution by flushing it down the drain with copious amounts of water.
21. Expect serendipitous results.
22. If you are not pleased with a piece of fabric, it is amazing how well it works in a project when you cut it up.

I sometimes swirl the paint, or I use a straw and blow on the paint to create designs.
I have not found this is the best method to use if you want intricate exacting combed designs, although I have done some combing with a wide tooth hair comb.

It this is not clear please ask questions and I will clarify the tutorial.

I'd appreciate seeing the fabrics you create with these instructions.

This is not rocket science. Play with it. Have FUN!


Laura said...

Thanks so much...this will make a fun afternoon!

Peggi Yac said...

This looks like fun. Thanks for the easy and clear instructions.

Eva said...

Reminds me a lot of the method I used to marble paper; I used oil paint, I guess on cloth it would not work like this.

cottonreel said...

I went to a workshop many years ago on marbling , we used wallpaper paste in the tray to support the fabric and paint . It worked very well--------------------------cottonreel

Unknown said...

This is great, Kay - I've done marbleing with methyl cellulose as a base and it was a pain to make. This sounds so simple that I may have to try it again! Thanks!Beth


ann said...

Thanks Kay,
Good information except #20. Please do NOT flush paint chemicals down the drain as these do end up in drinking water. Our community has yearly disposal of 'hazardous materials'. I'm sure your community must have something in place to keep dangerous chemicals out of the water supply. Please check or someone downstream will be drinking this stuff.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

It is the starch you are flushing down the drain - same as in laundry.
If there is paint left in the starch you can drag a piece of cloth or paper towel through it to take it out.

fiberchick said...

What an amazing tutorial... Is the marbled fabric washable?

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

I wouldn't throw it in the washer with my family laundry, but it can be washed gently.
If I were you I'd test a sample using the method I would be using to wash it before I used it in a project.
You might be surprised how well it holds up thru washing.
I would avoid drying in the dryer.

queenopearls said...

Kay this is a great tutorial, thank you so much!
Can you tell me why you soaked the fabric in alum?
Side note, Dharma Trading sells Versatex Fixer which, when mixed in tiny (up to 3% maximum) with acrylic paint makes it permanent without heat setting.
Thank you again,

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

I soak the fabric in alum because a long long time ago someone told me to. They didn't tell me why.
It may be to make the paint attach to the fabric.
I do believe if you don't wash the fabrics fro a week or more pressing may not even be necessary.
That could depend on how you intend to use and wash the item.

queenopearls said...

Kay, thank you so much for your swift response! I truly appreciate it.

Shaila said...

Kay,, I always wanted to do marbling , but found the process cumbersome. I am lucky to have got to read your instructions. It is hassle free . Will try is soon. thank you for sharing.

Morgan said...

I have been looking everywhere for a tutorial like this- thank you! My mom used to marble silk scarves in the eighties but she didn't remember the exact recipe- just that she used liquid starch and alum. Now that I'm in art school, 7 wanted to reinvent this technique by dyeing, marbling then printing my designs on top. I'll be putting photos up (hopefully in the next few weeks) on my personal/ business account on Instagram @haute_giraffe
My biggest worry is that I would normally use dyes or discharge to print, but then I have to steam to heat set.. I'm wary what this may do to the marbling. Maybe I'll use a different material to print instead. Wish me luck! And thank you again.