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Marbleizing Paper

Posted by  ·  May 25, 2008  ·  Last Updated: October 3, 2018

To make this fun and easy marbleized paper you will need: 1/2 tsp alum (helps paint adhere to the paper), 2 cups liquid starch, liquid acrylic paints, a long wooden skewer , a 9 X 13 pan and white copy paper cut to fit the inside your pan. You can change up the size of the pan, just keep the proportions of starch and alum the same. The starch should be 1 to 2 inches deep in your pan.


How to make marbleized paper

Pour 2 cups of liquid starch in the pan then add 1/2 tsp alum stirring until mixed.


Gently drop acrylic paint on the surface of the starch. Some paint will sink to the bottom- do not worry. Try not to use too much paint. For best results choose light and dark colors that go together. It will take some experimenting to know how much paint works best for you. Brands of acrylic paint differ in consistency. If after several tries you have trouble with the paint not staying on the surface, try adding a drop of water to your paint.


Take the wooden skewer and drag the paint through the starch. Continue dragging the skewer through the paint until you get a design you like. You might try other tools like a fork, feather or comb besides the skewer. Really the fun of this activity is watching the paint swirl around making different designs. There is no right and wrong. Enjoy the experimenting. We were mesmerized —- we hope you will be also!


Lay your piece of paper on top of the starch. Allow it to sit for a couple of seconds.


Lift the paper out of the pan and allow the starch to drip off the paper


Rinse the paper under running water removing any extra starch. This does not change the intensity of the colors (the below photo is a different piece of paper paper from the above photo)


After the paper has been rinsed, lay it out to dry. It will take about two hours for the paper to dry. When the paper is completely dry, iron on medium setting until the sheets of paper are flat.

You may find that you can print two sheets of paper before adding more paint to the starch. In the photo below, the bottom piece of paper was made first. We then used our skewer again making a different design and put on another sheet of paper.


In the photo below we had too much paint on our starch so we went ahead and made a print then changed up the design and then made another. If you feel that you have made a lot of prints and your starch is too full of paint, just pour it out and start again.


The possibilities of what to do with your paper are endless—- cover pencils, a book or a box, make note-cards, bookmarks or a picture frame etc.

For another fun activity try painting rocks.

Have fun!

Leave a Comment


  1. Sarah
    Thursday, August 11th, 2016
    Do you think this project would be appropriate for a 3.5 year old? Thanks!
  2. Sunday, October 12th, 2014
    Great tutorial Cindy, thanks for taking the time out to post it.

    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... http://www.ibookbinding.com/blog/marbled-paper-bookbinding-tutorial-and-photo-gallery/

    Keep up the good work and again, many thanks!
    ~ Paul
  3. Deborah
    Saturday, July 5th, 2014
    I did this with my daughter and neighbor today, and while they came out ok, I really was hoping for more color on the paper. I searched around the internet and found a few different methods. More than one mix the 2 tablespoons alum in 2 cups water, and have you coat the paper with alum and let it dry first, then iron. Then you go ahead and do the colors on the fabric starch and lay the paper on top. I haven't tried it yet, but thought the process might help some people. Also, for those of you having difficulty finding liquid starch, I found it at Walmart. (But it wasn't there when I went back.) If you can't find liquid starch, you can use carageenan powder mixed with water.
  4. Amber
    Friday, June 13th, 2014
    Do you think you Can you marble like fabric instead of using paper???
  5. volkan
    Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
    it's a turkish traditional art "ebru"
  6. lilly
    Monday, June 24th, 2013
    i hate it
  7. JMM Barkovich
    Thursday, March 28th, 2013
    To answer the concern about "paint not remaining on paper", May I suggest you add 1/4 teaspoon more alum. However, do note that it may appear that the paint is running off the paper when one initially removes paper from pan, but rest assured, a marbelized image is there. Do please run paper under water and PRESTO it appears.
    To address the paint consistency issue; I have garnered best results when I dilute acrylic paint to a thickish milky consistency (not as thick as heavy cream, however). I do add a number of colors (4-7)~ akin to the variety seen on original Turkish marbleized book endpapers. The method outlined here is just terrific!
    Oh, do know you can purchase liquid startch as well as alum at your local grocery store; liquid startch in laundry detergent aisle, alum located among the herbs and spice aisle.
  8. Pam
    Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
    I was curious about this paper can you use it with modge podge. What I mean is will it transfer to another object?
  9. Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
    Wow...this is damn cool!!!! What a nice technique...beautiful designs!
  10. Beth
    Sunday, April 29th, 2012
    Thanks for posting this - my middle schoolers are so excited about this...but I tried it this weekend and I experienced the same running of the paint after I pulled the paper off of the size. The longer I worked, the worse it got...is that my size telling me it's tired?
  11. my name
    Sunday, September 11th, 2011
    thats cool
  12. harriet
    Friday, June 10th, 2011
    love this!!! i remember doing something quite like this at school but we put paint and washing up liquid in to water then blew bubbles with a straw not quite the same effect but kids love doing it
  13. Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
    absolutely great thanks !
  14. Friday, July 31st, 2009
    What a fantastic idea...
  15. Kaitlin
    Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
    So I was really excited to try your way after others hadn't yeilded great results.
    Your way has definately made the color work for me better.... but when i pull the paper out the paint run and ruins it..... do you know what i am doing wrong? I would LOVE to have this work out well but i keep hitting issues :P
    I could use your help thanks!
  16. lacey
    Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
    Thank you for sharing the starch info. i saw it 1st on martha and she didn't tell you everything you need. I'm a painter so i can't wait to finally try this out. Thanks again i'm excited
  17. ROBYN
    Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
    This is great, Thanks for posting this I am in a positional to become a professional painter now and needed to know how to achieve this technique badly! Perfect many thanks!
  18. Adrienne
    Thursday, November 6th, 2008
    Where do you find liquid starch?
  19. Friday, August 8th, 2008
    I am so happy I could kiss you! I did this once at high school in a workshop. The teacher made it seem so easy to do. Well now I am the art teacher and had tried three different ways to do this and eventually used shaving cream to do the marbleizing. I was still unhappy with the results and DETERMINED to make my paint float in order to give the kids the full experience. So I went and bought the alum (after searching 3 stores) and the craft paint instead of tempera and already had the liq starch. I was skeptical at first.... But I just got done experimenting again and could not stop. I can't wait to do it with the kids now! I'm excited!!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! --PS this turned out even better than the workshop that I did!
  20. Thursday, June 12th, 2008
    Oh, thanks for this. I haven't marbled in years. I think my children will love it. Now that the weather is warmer, we could do this outside (less mess).
  21. Thursday, May 29th, 2008
    Oh so cool! I have always wanted to know how to do this! I have a 9 year old who I know will want to try this with me sometime!
  22. ellen harper
    Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
    Ok this is super mega radical COOL. Way much simpler than the traditional method.
  23. travelnooks
    Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
    That looks great! I might try my hand at it.
  24. Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
    Thank you for sharing this process. You got wonderful results and make it look easy! I bet it's hard to stop once you start making papers!!!
  25. Kim
    Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
    Denise Fleming has an alternative process with food coloring and shaving cream. :) (Here's the link: http://www.denisefleming.com/pages/activitiesb/marbleizedpaper1.htm)
  26. Monday, May 26th, 2008
    ..you're so stinking cool!
    p.s. I used your end of the year "scoops of fun" teacher gift idea! :) thanks!
  27. Monday, May 26th, 2008
    I remember doing this as a kid, have to try again. i wonder how handmade paper would go? Have you tried that?
  28. Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    that was fun!!! Thank you for sharing
  29. Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    Very cool! I've always wondered how to do this! I just finished making your hooded towel. When I get my other two done I'll post pics. Thanks for the tutorials!
  30. Angie
    Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    OH How Fantastic!!!!! I literally shrieked with delight when I first saw this! I can't wait to try it. Thanks :)
  31. Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    Thanks for sharing this great tutorial. I always wondered how to do it and this is another one on my growing list of things I want to try ...
  32. Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    Such a great project! Thank you for sharing it.
  33. Sunday, May 25th, 2008
    Oh Thank you for posting this!! This sounds like another craft I might enjoy and it's something the kids will likely enjoy too. Oh boy.. adding more crafts to my belt. Heee..