Two things I absolutely love this Tuesday – roses and marbled wrapping paper – though the order is interchangeable.
I picked up a bunch of quite beautifully coloured roses in the supermarket today. I am not sure what the colour was and the tag gave no hint. Were they purple, were they a lavender or were they lilac?
An afternoon spent researching rose colours left me no closer to knowing the exact hue – I am thinking perhaps Ocean Song – but the added benefit was being uplifted by so many beautiful images.
I knew I also had some beautiful marbled paper that would complement the roses so that together they would make a lovely gift. I never tire of marbling with its rich history and endless visual possibilities.
I now know that the word ebru (cloud, cloudy) or abru (water face) means in Turkish the technique of paper marbling. Muslim Heritage shares that the term is derived from the word ebre meaning the “moiré, veined fabric, paper” used for covering some manuscripts and other holy books. Its origin could go back to China, where a document from the T’ang dynasty (618-907) mentions a process of colouring paper on water with five hues.
According to The History and Techniques of Marbled Paper by Katie Berhens, the technique of marbling paper has been around since tenth century Japan where “traditional paper marbling is known as suminagashi (“floating ink”). Sumi inks are dropped into a shallow pan of water where they float on the surface. A surfactant made of tree resin is then dropped into the ink, which spreads across the water. Designs are added with a fan or by blowing gently. The paper is laid onto the ink for a brief time and then removed.” I am hoping to find a way to use the word surfactant again some time soon.
Katie goes on to tells us that by contrast, inks and paints in Europe were water-based and so a compound, known as size (usually a natural gum Tragacanth or more recently made from a type of moss called Carrageenan) was added to prevent the ink from sinking. The Europeans also coated the paper with alum, which mean the paper could be rinsed and would retain its marbled pattern.
Marbling always creates a one-of-a-kind monograph or gift wrap for that matter. A bit like a swirly fingerprint. Back to Katie …who says “variations in the water, the artist’s hand movements, even the dust particles in the air prevent an exact duplicate. As such, marbled paper was used to prevent forgeries and erasure. As the business of book binding developed marbling was also used on the edges of ledgers. Theoretically, if a single leaf of the ledger was taken, the pattern would be disrupted.”
If I hadn’t spent all afternoon looking at the colour of roses, I would have read more about the history of marbling. There are so many well researched books and blogs on the subject I could have kept going for days, weeks, even years. But instead I opted to wrap two gifts for the one recipient in a pink and purple marvellous marbled paper. Two for Tuesday. I am pretty sure there is no exact duplicate for my wrap. No forgeries here.