All our marbled paper is made by hand by in a small workshop in South-East London. Designer-maker Lucy McGrath uses methods that have barely changed for centuries: a tray of gloopy ‘size’ (water thickened with Irish moss) is prepared the night before, then paints are mixed to create the right shades for the chosen design before being dropped with brushes or pipettes onto the size.
Because the size is so thick, the colours don’t disperse like they would in water and instead spread out on the surface. Once applied, the colours are manipulated using tools such as a bamboo stylus or rake. Alternating these tools can create intricate and elegant patterns.
When she’s happy with the design, Lucy will carefully lay a sheet of paper onto the size. It picks up that top layer of paint on the surface, capturing the pattern. The final steps are to rinse off the gloop and pin the sheet up to dry.
Marbling is now classed as Critically Endangered on the Radcliffe Red List as there’s only a handful of professionals left. The rise of digital printing and mass production put a lot of pressure on the old industrial uses for it. To survive, marbling must adapt to a fast-moving world and find a new audience, and we hope to help it to do that.
Once the marbled papers are dry and flattened, designer-maker Lucy draws out a template 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 is a process that can take some consideration.
Once the template is drawn out, boards are cut to size and glued to the marbled paper, left to dry flat under a weight, and finally the inside pages are glued in. The assembled book must be pressed for a day before it is ready.