Ebru marbling workshop

An advertisement of an ebru marbling workshop popped up on my facebook wall.

Ebru leaflet 2019

Is it possible to create representational images like flowers in paper marbling!?! Not just abstract patterns!?!

European marbling

Traditional European paper marbling in the 18th and 19th centuries

Of course I would love to learn how to do it!

The workshop, every Saturday over six weeks, was organised and hosted by Johannesburg Yunus Emre Enstitüsü, a Turkish cultural centre. The instructor was Refik Çarikçi, an engineer-architect-artist.

According to Wikipedia,

“Paper marbling is a method of aqueous surface design, which can produce patterns similar to smooth marble or other kinds of stone. The patterns are the result of color floated on either plain water or a viscous solution known as size, and then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric. Through several centuries, people have applied marbled materials to a variety of surfaces. It is often employed as a writing surface for calligraphy, and especially book covers and endpapers in bookbinding and stationery. Part of its appeal is that each print is a unique monotype.”


First Refik explained about the history, materials, tools and techniques of Turkish marbling (ebru marbling), which uses organic pigments mixed with water and öd (ox gall) for colours and deniz kadayifi (sea sponge) for size.

190330 samples

Examples created by Refik

Then our instructor showed us how to do it.

Now it’s our turn.

190406 practice

Here are some of my first attempts. So primitive!🤦‍♀️

According to Refik, one needs to practice every day for at least six months to get a grip on the technique.

Techniques will improve through practice. My biggest challenge would be how to create artworks of my own from this craft.

Googling led me to Garip Ay, a Turkish ebru performance artist.

This is his take on Van Gogh.

This one is a more traditional ebru.

Refik is admant that “ebru” is abstract patterns and flowers created using the traditional method and that no diversion should be permitted, but Garip Ay certainly mastered the tradition and transcended it.

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