Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Make Marbled Paper

Another lifetime ago, when I was a single starving artist at college one of my roommates made marbled paper with shaving cream and food coloring. For the life of me I cannot remember why she was making it. I’m pretty sure she was a business major…! Anyway…the project has stayed tucked away in my “I have to try that someday” folder in my brain…and this holiday season it happened. I was a bit nervous about trying it out, after all it was a long time since I had seen it made, but I found a few tips online and just jumped in. The kids were a bit confused at first when I tried to explain what we were doing, but once they saw shaving cream and food coloring, big sheets of paper and cookie trays they were all in!!!

Here’s how it’s done!

How to Make Marbled Paper


Shaving cream (not the gel kind, just the regular old super cheap white stuff!)

Food coloring (some people use inks, but food coloring was on hand…! Oh, and the drop kind, not the awesome paste kind.)

At Least 2 Large Cooke Trays

Paper (we used white cardstock. The paper picks up some moisture so needs some substance…but you can definitely experiment with lighter weight paper!)

Squeegee …of some sort (I don’t actually own a squeegee…so we used a stiff sheet of cardboard…I went through two in the course of the project because it got soggy…but it did the job)

Stir stick (Any sort of thin dowel, paintbrush handle, etc to “marble” the paper.IMG_7729


1. Make sure you have a large clear work surface.

2. Squirt a nice squishy mountain of shaving cream onto one of the cookie sheets and spread it evenly with your squeegee. Your shaving cream base only needs to be a little bit bigger than the paper you are marbling, and about 1” thick. So for our project…a little bigger than 8 1/2” x 11”.

3. Squirt a few drops of food coloring randomly onto the shaving cream. We used this as a color lesson and discussed complimentary, primary, secondary colors, etc. But really any way you want to choose your colors is fine!

4. Using your stir stick (for us, the end of a paintbrush) to marble your colors. With the tip of your stir stick on the bottom of the tray, and with it standing straight up travel through the shaving cream dragging the colors from your food coloring drops all over in a twisty turny fashion. There is really no better way to learn how to do this but to experiment, so jump right in. I will admit that some of the batches done completely by the kids I thought were way to over mixed and were going to turn out poorly ended up being some of our favorites. Go figure! IMG_7730

5. Once you have marbled to your hearts content lay your paper down gently and evenly onto the shaving cream and lightly press it to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles. Air bubbles leave blank spots in the marbling and are very disappointing!

6. Holding two adjacent corners of the paper carefully peel it up from the shaving cream. A significant amount of cream will come with it.IMG_7727

7. Lay the paper onto a second cookie sheet and scrape the shaving cream off with your squeegee. Scrape the shaving cream right back onto the firs cookie sheet and use for a second run by stirring it right back into the original cream.

8. Flatten out the shaving cream to prepare for another batch. This batch will retain some colors from the previous batch making the background beneath the marbling a different color than the white of the paper. We really liked this.

9. Repeat steps 3-8 again and again and again, starting fresh with clean cream once and a while. I’m telling you…this is super easy, and oh so rewarding for any age that it will be quite difficult to stop.

When my husband came home from work the whole house smelled of barbasol, there wasn’t a thought of dinner, and we were still happily working away. It’s a good thing we love pancakes!!!

This marbled paper became cards, ornaments, and a delightful swag…with grand plans for more batches and more projects.