Paper marbling is a lot of fun

This is a seemingly simple, but nonetheless complicated process because you have to get to understand the strength of each colour and how it changes when it comes in contact with the paper. Sometimes the colours you have chosen look completely different when you get them down on the glue  – and even more interesting depending on the colour of paper you choose to print them off on- so it is fun to experiment.

First job – you have to mix some clean clear “colla” (glue) – they use a special vegetable glue pretty much the same consistency as wallpaper paste – which you pour into a large “vassaio” (tray)

The glue is poured into in the clean metal tray and beside it stand a selection of colourful acrylic paints – aprons are provided! This glue which is boiled many times only makes about 30 pieces of paper before it has to be changed so this part is a labour intensive process.

Tray of glue and acrylic paints

The tray of glue and selection of colourful acrylic paints – Oh! The Agony of Choice!

Using the second brush as a guide, drop spots of your chosen paint colour onto the glue base – where it will “open out” and spread across the surface of the glue in different ways according to the strength and consistency of the paint chosen.

The paint “sits” on top of the glue waiting to be stirred into thin stringy lines or more swirly shapes.

The photos below show the thin stripes ready to make the peacock or turkey tail design and the wheat head designs for making the more freestyle design.

The next two steps involve 2 different large toothed combs – the first you drag down the tray and create an image with arci (arches) which forms the basis of the peacock tail design. The second comb has a double row of metal teeth and this has to be dragged down the tray with a zig-zag movement – this moves the arches into a different formation – genuinely very similar to a turkey’s tail – or at least I think so having seen this angry turkey see off a potential rival (a large cockerel!)  in Vauxhall City Farm last year!

Paper marbling classes are usually quite simple to set up as we have two central Florence locations to choose from  – so if you want to give it a try please contact me on

Naturally, you take your paper home to gift wrap your very special presents.