The Art of Marbling

The average person on the street will tell you they don’t know what marbling is. But I bet they’d recognize it if they saw it. You know those colourful endpapers that look like someone painted them? Well, that’s marbling!


That looks familiar, doesn’t it? The image above is from the Folio Society’s beautiful edition of The Duke’s Children. While we tend to think of marbling as something that lives only in the endpapers of old books, did you know it is still practiced today? In fact, there are contemporary marbling artists all over the world, whose creations will take your breath away.

Marbling is done by layering paint on top of water or oil (contained in a deep tray), and carefully applying, then removing, a sheet of paper (or other material). There is a LOT more to it than that, but that’s the basic concept. Here’s what wikipedia says about it:

Studio Robert Wu – Toronto, Canada
I was first introduced to Robert Wu’s work as a student at the University of Toronto’s iSchool. Our professor brought in some of Mr. Wu’s work, and I was instantly mesmerized by it:

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The Marbling Art of Robert Wu (8 of 39)

I went home that night and scoured, amazed by what I saw. I decided that as a bibliophile, my home library (paltry though it is) would never be complete without at least one of Mr. Wu’s creations on the wall. I have not yet taken that step, but that’s only because my ‘favourite’ often changes – there are so many to choose from:

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Under the Willow Tree (22 of 39)

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Peacock (17 of 39)

Studio Robert Wu not only does marbling that is suitable to hang on the walls in your home, but Mr. Wu also does endpapers, bookbinding, miniature works, and more. I highly recommend you check out his website or Etsy page. Or go to @studio_robert_wu on Instagram for some neat videos and more beautiful art.

Jemma Lewis Marbling & DesignWiltshire, England
Jemma Lewis is another marbling artist, whose media include not only paper, but also textiles. And not just paper for endpapers, but dictionary pages, pages from children’s books, you name it.

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Hand Marbled Silk No. 3 from Jemma Lewis Marbling and Design

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‘Purple Bouquet’ peacock pattern from Jemma Lewis Marbling and Design

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Marbled Children’s Book Page ‘Secret Seven’ from Jemma Lewis Marbling and Design

I just can’t believe the talent and skill that goes into these creations, and I hope that more people become acquainted with this art form so that it gets the attention it deserves. My goals for owning marbled art keep expanding, with every new marbling artist I discover! Check out Jemma’s Instagram account @jemmalewismarbling, as well as her website to see more stunning examples of her work.

KatyEbruSiberia, Russia
Katerina Savelyeva practices Ebru, which I understand is the Turkish word or term for marbling. Katy also has an Instagram presence @katyebru, and the artwork displayed on her account is absolutely gorgeous. Some of the videos help to show the scope of her work, as well. Although a lot of Katy’s website is in Russian, the pictures don’t need translations to show more beautiful examples of marbling art and technique.

I hope these pictures and links have provided a nice change from the everyday for you. And if you happen to come across a book with marbled endpapers, maybe you’ll take it home with a renewed appreciation for the artist, and the talent that went into it.