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Marbling is now classified as Endangered on the Heritage Red List as there are fewer than 10 professional marblers left in the UK. The rise of digital printing and mass production of paper has increased pressure on the traditional industrial uses for marbling. To survive, it must adapt to a fast-moving world and find contemporary audiences. Our mission is to breathe new life into this traditional craft so it can do just that.
All our marbled paper is made by hand in a small workshop in South-East London. Designer-maker Lucy McGrath uses methods that have barely changed for centuries. Every marbling session begins with the same ritual: a shallow dish is filled with gloopy ‘size’ (water thickened with Irish moss), and paints are carefully mixed to create the right shades for the chosen design. When everything is ready, paint is dropped with brushes or pipettes onto the size.
Because the size is thicker than water, the colours spread out on the surface of the size rather than dispersing throughout the liquid. Once applied, the colours are then manipulated using tools such as a bamboo stylus or rake to create intricate and elegant patterns. After the design is complete, a sheet of paper is carefully laid onto the size. It picks up the layers of paint lying on the surface, capturing the pattern. The final steps are to gently rinse off the 'gloop' and hang the sheet up to dry.
Once the marbled papers are dry and flattened, a template is drawn for the journal’s hard case onto the back of the sheet. It is very important that the cover displays the most beautiful parts of the pattern, so this process can require some careful consideration.
Boards are then cut to size and glued to the marbled paper and left to dry flat under a weight. The inside pages are glued into the book cover, and the assembled book is pressed for a full day to ensure that it is perfect.