Monthly Archives: November 2022

A Work of Art within a Book: Marbled Paper

Marbled paper is a beautiful way to add intrigue and richness to any book. Marbled paper emerged in book arts in Persia during the 1500s (Museum of New Zealand). According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is known as “ebru,” meaning “art of the clouds” coming from the words ebr (cloud in Turkish) and abri (cloud in Persian). It also exists in Japan known as a technique called Suminagashi beginning in 800 A.D. (Museum of New Zealand). Europeans began marbling endsheets and book covers in the 1600s, at first doing the process by hand then using mechanical means (University of Minnesota). The ways of making marbled paper were not easily apprehended as its creators often closely guarded their techniques. One way to create a marbled sheet was by filling a tub with water, then dropping pigment in the tub (perhaps swirling it around to create a different design), and finally dipping it in the colorful water (University of Minnesota). In other instances, algae or gum will be used instead of water (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Voyage autour du monde sur la frégate La Venus, pendant les années 1836-1839. Abel du Petit-Thouars. Image courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand.