Sunday, August 02, 2015

Marbling magic

The last week has been very, very challenging. I was worried yesterday during the first day of a two-day class that I was so overwrought with work and personal crises that I wouldn't be able to get much out of the workshop. I paid to take this one not because I was gung ho about marbling paper, but because 1. Steve Pittelkow is a great teacher and a wonderful person, 2. I wanted to have the luxury of being a student with no teaching responsibilities whatsoever, and 3. I hoped this would help me in the practice of how I could do my own creative work at the Morgan (rather than being overwhelmed by how it feels like work, and not a studio where I can make art).
Not sure if it was a complete success on all those fronts, but I did learn a LOT. I also learned that I have finally matured enough to rest and break because standing on those floors in that heat is hard for me. Though of course I wished I could power on through like everyone else, I do have the luxury of coming back in tomorrow and playing, or another day if I like. And it was especially wonderful to be inept, making mistakes, and not having to be the one to be on top of myself: Steve would catch all of my errors and it was no big deal. Student luxuries!
The night before class, I decided I wanted to try and marble my last duck. It was going to be a big risk, but I asked Steve yesterday and he seemed to think it would work, so we sprayed it with alum.
Once it was dry today, we waited until the very end of class and used carrageenan that we drained from our tanks. I decided to do blue and green and dropped all the colors before Steve stabbed the bottom of the duck with two awls.
They worked as handles, and then he was careful to get the entire thing in and coated with paint.
This was THE MOST DELIGHTFUL and hilarious part of it all. It's meant to be a duck gourd, so at least now we know it can pour liquids beautifully.
Could it be more perfect?
I averaged under 20 sheets a day but learned MORE from watching everyone else work and seeing their results. I'm guessing everyone had a ton more than I did. I have probably an hour's worth of notes to transcribe, and now a huge stash of paper to play with. Most importantly, I have the ideal ending to another duck's color!


  1. I remember when I first was introduced to paper marbling --- it was a mandatory unit in a diploma course I was undertaking (how cool is that?!) -- I wasn't necessarily thrilled to be learning marbling but I was thrilled about the teacher- -- margo snape is a legend in our country - she bought the traditional skill of water bath marbling back from the dead (in the late 1970s/early 1980s --- her efforts in rediscovering some of the techniques are legendary - at least in our country - I think she is renown world wide, or at least she was) --- I fell totally in LOVE with the technique and have since studied with another marbling master in this country, joan ajala --- I hope one day to get things together so I have all the equipment to do marbling at home (procurring carrageenan in australia is a total pain)

    ps I love your duck!

  2. oh, your duck! my lord, she looks marvelous! what a huge risk.

  3. thank you thank you! the risks are well worth the rewards. and sometimes i think i skirted marbling for so long because i knew once those floodgates were open, well...

  4. the marbled duck is gorgeous, very elegant. the greater the risk the greater the achievement, makes all the failures worthwhile.


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