Marbling - History

Customer Service & Information Page

Suminagashi: Japanese Marbling

Marbling originated in Japan in around the twelfth century. Some believe it was discovered by accident by someone in the Japanese imperial family who submerged sumi ink paintings in water, watched the inks float to the surface, then put a piece of paper on the floating ink, lifted it up and preserved the image. This technique was termed Suminagashi, or "ink floating."

Another type of marbling, Ebru, Turkish for "cloud art," originated in Turkey, Persia and India in the fifteenth century. The Turkish marblers used thickened water, which was similar to the marbling solutions of today. So, detailed combed and flowing designs were possible as they are today. Some of the most amazing images have a complex combed background, then detailed images of objects like flowers, leaves, etc. that are lightly combed last into the foreground. Google images of Ebru, it's incredible!!!

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries marbling spread to Europe, but the trade secrets were kept that way by only a handful of people. They named patterns after their countries: i.e., Old Dutch, French Curl, and Italian Hair Vein, which are still used today. Apprentice marblers were taught only one step of the marbling process, and some were actually forced to work behind wooden partitions to keep the other workers hidden. Most marbling was used for decorative bookbinding.

Finally, in 1853, an Englishman, Charles Woolnough, revealed the secret in his book The Art of Marbling. Two years later, Josef Halfer of Budapest published Die Fortschritte der Marmorierkunst, which was translated into many languages and came to the United States as The Progress of the Marbling Art, which redefined and simplified the marbling process and created a growth spurt of marbling in Europe and the U.S.

Modern Marbling

By the time bookbinders got their hands on these coveted recipes, book production had become automated with machines and fine craftsmanship was not valued over high volume. Marbling became much less popular until the 1970s, when crafts and handmade books emerged and helped renew this old art form.

Today, marbling is going strong with thousands of masters who explore and revitalize the traditional methods, bringing new ideas to this wonderful form of expression.

Customer Comments
Image of a notebook and pencil

If you'd rather speak with a human, please call toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada M-F 8am to 5pm PST

Phone: (800) 542-5227

Your item has been added to your shopping cart   Item Added to Cart
Your item has not been added to your shopping cart   Item Not Added

About Tiered Discount Levels

You can combine cotton and rayon clothing & accessories to get the greatest discounts. Your discount is figured on the total number of cotton and rayon items we ship, not how many of each type, style or size. Mix and match them to get the best discount.

Example: adding 4 each of 3 different T-shirts in any sizes will give you the 12+ price on all 12 shirts.

Visual aid for discount details

Visual aid for how discounts will look in cart

Some products may be excluded from discounts, and / or may discount only with themselves. If you have any questions at all please contact us toll free at 800-542-5227 (no buttons, just humans).

Drag and Drop chips to the Palette first.

ssl test img