In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, we have taken the traditional craft of paper marbling and adapted it into a 100% natural, non-toxic and earth-based activity using earth pigments, walnut oil and a plant based glue.
This is a fun and fascinating way to create unique paint designs on paper for cards and decorations. The process works by having the paint sit right on the surface of the water, so that it can easily get picked up by paper.
- Methyl Cellulose (plant-based adhesive) to thicken the water
- Wide container or tray
- Earth & Mineral Pigments in green, blue, and white
- Refined Walnut Oil to allow the paint to sit on top of the water
- Various types of paper
Note: Water marbling is definitely a trial-and-error type of process, so feel free to try different ratios and materials to see what works best!
1. The Water + Methyl Cellulose. Mix hot water and methyl cellulose in a large, flat container with whisk, using enough so that the water fills the container about 1-2 inches high. I used about 1 tablespoon of methyl cellulose to 4 cups of water.
- One option for mixing: put hot water and methyl cellulose in a glass jar and shake with lid on until mixed. Let sit until fully dissolved.
2. The Paint. It’s important to get your paint to the right consistency so that it can easily float on top of the water. I added a small amount of earth pigment to walnut oil in about a 1:8 ratio (enough for the oil to have color, but not so much that the consistency of the oil changes).
- The paint can be poured slowly into the container. If the paint does not float, add more oil to the paint. If it forms bubbles slightly under the water, you can easily pop them with a toothpick. You can use the toothpick to create different designs as well.
- I alternated between green, white, and blue paints to imitate the swirling colors of a globe.
3. The Paper. Try what papers you have on hand but I had the most luck with some scraps of textured cardstock. I set the paper onto the paint and let it sit for a few seconds before carefully picking it up. (Wear gloves if you don’t want your hands to get messy!)
4. Finalizing Your Design. Let the paint settle onto the paper for several minutes, then carefully run your paper under lightly flowing water to remove any excess paint or thickened water. Let your final design dry for a few hours, then, voila! Feel free to use your water marbled paper in other crafts and projects! You can cut your paper into circles to make small Earth cards! Just in time for Earth Day!