This summer I did a paper marbling course in West Dean College in Chichester. This college was set up by poet and artist Edward James as a centre for conservation and crafts such as bookbinding and clock making. The house (or castle in my mind!) is set in 6,000 acres of beautiful countryside with an orchard and walled garden beside the house.
Marbling was originally used as an anti-fraud measure: if you had a written contract with somebody, it would have been written on marbled paper. Each party would receive one half of the contract which was torn down the middle. As each marbled paper is completely unique, it would be impossible to forge or make an imitation of the marbled sheet.
I learnt a great deal on the course – from traditional patterns and modern takes on them, to different paper and bookcloth possibilities, to text block edge marbling. My favourite pattern was the Fern with a modern twist. For the last section of the course, I focused on reproducing this pattern using different coloured papers. It was amazing how just changing one variable resulted in a whole range of contrasting papers.
These papers can be used as coverpapers or as endpages (i.e. the first and last pages of a book) and I will soon be offering made-to-order marbled papers for my wedding albums.
I would like to thank the Crafts Council of Ireland for giving me funding to do this training.