Paint and Additives
Golden Acrylics page1,
Fabric, Marbling Size
Marbling with Golden Acrylics
Marbling (or marbleizing) is an intricate art form with numerous
variables and techniques, especially when it comes to manipulating
the paint on the size. This instruction sheet is just a starting
point, with information about the materials and set-up. For
a deeper understanding, consult books and other sources. And,
most of all, spend some time playing with it.
GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics can be used for marbling paper, fabric
and objects. They can be used on most marbling sizes, including
methyl-cellulose and carrageenan.
THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS: PIGMENTS & SIZE (Many kinds of
paints can be used. This set of instructions refers specifically
to the Golden Acrylics and their additives.)
GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics come in a large assortment of colors. They need
to be thinned to work properly for marbling. Water works, or Airbrush
Medium or GAC 900 for more permanence with use on fabric.
GOLDEN Airbrush Medium is a 100% acrylic binder system designed for modifying
the GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics for airbrush/spray application. It can be used
to dilute the Fluid Acrylics for marbling, but it is not necessary. It
slightly changes how the colors move on the size.
GOLDEN GAC 900 is an acrylic medium that increases the wash fastness of
marbled fabric. Note: The heat-setting process will release low levels
of formaldehyde; therefore it is imperative that adequate ventilation
be provided. Using a dryer, vented to the outdoors, is recommended.
TO PREPARE ONE GALLON OF SIZE
Into one gallon of water sprinkle one ounce of Methyl-cel (about 4 tablespoons)
- stir in well. (Optional: add 1 teaspoon fabric softener, like Downy®.)
Add 2 teaspoons of clear ammonia – stir thoroughly. Let stand
until size thickens (about an hour). Neutralize now with 2 teaspoons
of white vinegar. Keep the mixture in a cool area, refrigerated is better.
The cooler the mixture is when actually marbling, the better the performance.
Once made, you should treat the mixture like a food product, as methyl-cel
can spoil. If using a refrigerator containing food, keep separate. About
an hour before you plan to start marbling, pour the size gently into
your tray or pan, and let it stand until bubbles are gone (You can help
them leave by scraping the surface carefully with strips of paper).
YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
- Paper or cloth to marble on. Things like sneakers are possible,
but not the best thing to start with. Flat surface are easier to
- A tray to work in A shallow, flat tray or pan that is at least
1" deep. A cardboard tray with a plastic bag liner maybe used
for trials and childrenís use. Choose a tray big enough for the
sheet of paper or cloth, with at least 1" clearance all around.
- Stylus, toothpicks, sticks, nails, combs Or other objects that
can be used to manipulate the floating paints. These can also be
taped or glued (evenly spaced) to long, rectangular pieces of cardboard
to make a comb or rake to develop intricate patterns.
- Aluminum Sulfate commonly called "alum".
- Color applicators/dispensers, whisks made of broom straw, squeeze
bottles, eye droppers, pipettes.
- Water needed for mixing, washing and cleaning. Be sure water is
relatively neutral, perhaps using distilled water for color mixing
and size mixtures.
- Newspapers and/or paper towels, for cleaning up, during and after.
Clothespins, for hanging fabric up.
BEFORE MARBLING PRE–TREAT PAPER OR FABRIC WITH ALUM
This allows the paint to make a more permanent bond. Using a mixture
of 1¼ cup alum to a gallon of water, mix well until all alum
Soak cloth well in alum–water. For paper, it may be better to
pour the alum mixture into a spray bottle and spritz it on evenly. You
can use a sponge to remove excess. Pat dry or hang on a line until dry.
Some marblers press the cloth or paper to dry it and to remove wrinkles.
Be careful, though, the alum makes it very easy to leave scorch marks.
The material must be fully dry in order to get a good transfer of pattern.
Plan on doing this the day before marbling to allow the material to
Some papers, such as construction paper, do not need alum pre–treatment.
MIXING THE PAINT
Colors: Colors mix. The Golden Fluid Acrylic colors mix especially well.
For paper: Dilute about half–and–half with water (or, if
you prefer, Airbrush Medium). Start with a little less water, so you
can adjust without wasting paint.
For fabric: For applications onto fabric, GAC 900 can be used instead
of water, to make the end product more wash–fast. Be sure heat–set
according to directions (see cautions at left)
TEST SIZE & PAINT
Pour size into tray at least an inch deep. Give bubbles time to go off,
or pop them carefully. Drag a piece of newspaper across the surface
of the Size. This helps to set up the surface tension and remove bubbles.
Pick up a drop of paint on the tip of a small stick (or bamboo skewer,
tiny dowel, broom straw, pipette). Put the paint on the size and watch
how it spreads. If it just sits, or gets smaller, or sinks down, or
spreads without bound – conditions are not right. The size is
too thick or too thin, or the paint is, or the humidity is too high
or too low. If you can spot and repair the problem, do it. Ideally,
the paint should spread easily out to a 3–4 inch diameter circle.
Test all the colors you intend to use, because different pigments will
travel differently. Note which are the fastest and which are the slowest.
Clean up your test by placing a piece of newspaper on the size; leave
it for a few seconds to absorb the paint. Pick up two adjacent corners
and drag the paper across the edge of the pan, scraping as much size
as possible back into the pan. This is a good time to think about where
you will put your marbled cloth (hanging) or fabric (hanging or flat)
There are really no rules from here out, either for applying or manipulating
the colors. Itís up to you to find methods that give pleasing results.
But there are some common practices that will get you started. Using
the slowest moving of your colors, apply a pattern of dots around the
size, anywhere from four to twelve dots – each spreads out into
a circle, then squares up as it bumps into its mates. Then, into the
center of each squarish circle, apply a drop of a second color. And
again with third and fourth colors, building bulls–eyes.
If you like the effect you have now got, you can take a print. The colors,
by the way, will print darker than they appear on the size.
Or you can manipulate the colors. Use a pointed stick or a fork or a
wide–toothed comb and push the colors around on the surface of
the Size. Donít go deep, drag just deeply enough to move the paint.
Use slow long sweeps, or slow sharp zig–zags, swirl through complete
circles, or back up, or go side–wards. Itís your design. When
you have got it where you want it, take a print. Donít be too long making
the pattern – the color separation eventually breaks down and
you begin to lose fine detail.
Lay the paper or cloth as smoothly as possible onto the size. Begin
at one end and let it roll down. Or begin in the center and roll out.
Hesitations will show as lines across the design. Avoid air bubbles
between the sheet and the size, theyíll leave gaps in the print and
paint will be left on the size. A large piece of cloth may go down more
easily with two people. Or pin the edges to dowels the length of your
pan – hold up by the dowels and let the middle droop down until
it hits the middle of the Size, then lower the dowels down and out until
the cloth lays evenly on the Size. Leave it for several seconds, to
give the paint time to penetrate. Some paper needs longer for full color.
Pick up two adjacent corners and lift the sheet up off the Size. Either
lift straight up and allow the excess size to drip back into the pan;
or pull across the edge and scrape the size back in. Scraping saves
more size, but can smear the colors. The less size you waste, the longer
you can go on marbling, so keep as much in the pan as possible.
RINSING & DRYING
For fabric, remove some of the size right away. Be very gentle or the
colors will blur. Floating the piece in warm water is preferable to
holding it under a faucet. For paper, itís better to let it start to
dry before rinsing.
Hang cloth to dry, lay paper flat or hang like cloth. After half an
hour, carefully rinse the excess Size off your paper, and leave to dry
completely (rinsing speeds drying and reduces sticking).
You may need to clean the surface of the size with newspaper before
starting your next design, if not every time, every few times.
Eventually youíll run out of size, but you can get dozens to hundreds
of prints from a gallon. Try working with a whole rainbow of colors,
or with just one, or with a couple. Try lots of manipulating for very
detailed fussy designs. Try minimal manipulating for simpler patterns.
Try whatever you can think of.
If you have been working with cloth, youíll need to heat–set the
dyes. Itís not necessary with paper (although ironing can help to get
the paper flat). Place the fabric or paper between two pieces of white
paper and press with a heat setting appropriate to the fabric (warm
for paper). One minute at hot, two at medium, four at low. Now wash,
using any household detergent and dry, just as you would a garment from
the same fiber.
If you are using GOLDEN GAC 900: The heat–setting process
will release low levels of formaldehyde; therefore it is imperative
that adequate ventilation be provided. Using a dryer, vented to the
outdoors, is recommended.