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Paper Marbling

Paper marbling is a technique that will allow you to make unique papers for your next scrapbooking, book making or other paper craft project. It's so quick and easy. Try it with this 7-step tutorial.


Paper Marbling


  • Carrageenan: Usually a white powder made from seaweed Irish moss. It’s a powdered gelatin that when mixed with water creates the size.
  • Alum: Another white powder that is mixed with water, but this powder is a binder that helps the color stick to the paper.
  • Paper: Almost any type of paper can be used. Experiment.
  • Color: Usually watercolor or oil paints. Some people also use re-inkers.
  • Rakes and Combs: Tools used to patterns in the color. Combs usually have teeth closely spaced while a rake may have one point or widely spaced teeth or nails. You can also use feathers, wood skewers and paint brushes.

Step by Step

  1. Water and carrageen are mixed (read packaging, this step takes several hours and it is often recommended to allow to settle overnight). This mixture is also referred to as size.
  2. An alum solution (alum and water) is needed. This solution is sponged onto the paper and paper must dry completely. Alum is what bonds the color to the paper. Make sure your paper is smaller than the tray you will use in Step 3.
  3. Pour the size into a shallow tray. Make sure the tray or container you select gives you room to work.
  4. Drop several colors of paint (color) onto the size. The paint should float on the surface of the size. Using a skew, comb, or rake, you can create patterns by running the tool through the colors.
  5. When happy with the pattern, gently lay the alum treated paper onto the surface of the size. The paper will absorb the paint. Gently lift off paper. Only one sheet of paper can be done at a time.
  6. Rinse paper in water and hang to dry.
  7. Wipe off any excess color from size with untreated sheet of paper or paper towel. Repeat Steps 1-6 for additional marbling. At some point the size will no longer give you clean crisp marbling and should be disposed of properly.


  • Use a color wheel to help select colors to use when marbling
  • Experiment with different tools/rakes to create new patterns of color.
  • Use marbled papers for card making, altered books, book making, and gift-wraps.
  • Once dry, store marbled papers (with tissue paper between the sheets) flat and out of direct sunlight.
  • Preserve the Carragheen for up to 30 days by placing it in a seal-able container and adding 1/4 teaspoon of chlorine bleach.
  • Explore some of the faux marbling techniques in books and on the Internet.
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Great tutorial Dad, Thanks for taking the time to write it - I'm sure many will benefit from your shared knowledge! FYI, I used it as a reference on a recent paper marbling tutorial I did myself a week or two ago, figured it might be a a good resource for some of your readers... == kbinding-tutorial-and-photo-gallery/ Keep up the good work and again, many thanks! Paul


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