Marbling, combs and waves on paper and textiles with Rachel O'Connell

Ref: SLW33699

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About this course

Learn the ancient art of Japanese ink Suminagashi to create organic patterns and colourful European marbling heritage patterns . These decorated patterned papers are versatile and ideal for bookbinding, gift wrap or stationery projects.

Course Description

This practical course introduces you to two styles of marbling, Suminagashi, the origin of marbling, and European heritage pattern marbling. All materials, aprons and gloves will be provided.

You will learn about the materials you are using and how to ascertain the suitability of the paper for the style of marbling and it’s application. You will be guided on how to use a naturally occurring mordant to prepare your papers and fabrics for successful marbling and the preparation of the European marbling bath mix. You will be advised on the type of ink suitable for Suminagashi and acrylic paints and their preparation.

Marbling is a mindful craft, where we use breathwork and simple tools and combs to create our patterns. For ink marbling, you will learn how to create organic shapes and concentric circles on the water surface, before being shown how to transfer to a variety of papers and fabric. Using acryclic paints, you will learn how to build up basic European patterns to achieve more complex Heritage patterns using tools and combs to transfer to paper and fabric. We will use some of the papers and fabric to create a lantern, a stitched notebook and a silk scarf. You will be guided on the use of a sewing machine to stitch your scarf.

The skills you acquire on the course will enable you to reproduce the patterns at home, using basic tools and equipment. There will be an introduction of the correct handling of the mordant and marbling size powders, tools and equipment involved.

Each process will be demonstrated to the group. Afterwards, you will be able to work on your own patterns, with individual help from your tutor to successfully create marbled patterns.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • All materials required for the specific projects set by the tutor or shared by the group including paper, ink, paint, fabrics, tape, mordant powder, marbling powder, filtered water.

What students need to bring

  • An apron to protect your clothes

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • Paint is flicked or dropped on the Euqopean marbling bath, so can be messy. We suggest wearing old clothes and shoes for this part of the course.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.