Spreading the Love

Marbled Paper by BarbPart II of Other Things I've Been Doing of Late: the Awesome Creative Session. My friend Ann (the one I mentioned yesterday who recommended the bookmaking book to me) recently took a HUGE leap and become 100% pro-actively unemployed like me (she was 50% pro-actively unemployed up until then). This means I have another friend I can play with during the weekday (because, as always, it's all about me). Creative, positive, energetic, and outgoing, Ann is simply fun to be around. Add to that list, "avid traveler" and "childfree," and you know what that means to me! I met her four years ago at the Peach Tree Pottery Holiday Show where I was selling my Hope's Flame candles...though it seems like I've known her for a much longer time. She's THAT kind of person--the one that just fits into your life like a pair of comfy jeans.

She was at my house for a dinner party one night in December when I showed her my marbled papers. She expressed serious interest in learning about the art form and I suggested she have a studio day with me where she can roll up her sleeves and give it a shot herself. She happily accepted the invitation.

Prep Work

A month later, when weather conditions were just about perfect (low temps, high humidity), I told her to get her butt over to my place, wear clothes she didn't mind getting paint on, and bring any acrylic paints and special paper she wanted to use.

Ann's First Design

The day before her visit, I went about cleaning up the studio (which is also my candle space/laundry space/storage space/oh...and garage space!), preparing the size for the bath and the alum for the paper, setting out the marbling tools, and prepping the work area. Normally, I find this process tedious simply because I'm so anxious to get marbling. But somehow knowing Ann was going to be in the studio with me made the work seem interesting. I knew she would want to know the "why" and "how" behind the marbling process and so it was an exercise of mental preparation as much as physical preparation for me. I even got out my notes from my very first marbling workshop to refresh my memory with instructional words that describe what my body now intuitively does. I felt like a teacher preparing for the first day of school after summer break.

Ann's First Marbled Paper

Our marbling day far exceeded my expectations. Sure, I knew we would have fun together in the studio, regardless if Ann fell in love with marbling as much as I did the first time. But I didn't expect Ann to GET IT--the "it" being what marbling feels like from head to toe and inside-out--which she did so quickly. I didn't expect her to embrace (or, more accurately, fall head-over-heels for) the traditional designs as much as she did, which made me see them in a whole new light. I didn't expect her to RESIST free form as much as she did, which made me see my work (I love the free form!) in a whole new light. And I certainly didn't expect her to feel EXACTLY the same way I always do after a day in the studio--EXHAUSTED and SPENT and A LITTLE OUT OF IT--but she did.

Ann marbling

Marbling is not for the weak. Or the timid. It is a full-day commitment (no balking or you waste expensive size). It is a constant strain on your creative mind (each paper requires a new design and new colors...even if you're trying to replicate the same look). Your concentration is tested (how is a color reacting in the bath, what color did you put down first last time, which tool is used to create a certain design). You are on your feet all day (this is not an art form that can be done sitting down). You are always moving (going from the paints to the bath to the tools to the line where the finished pieces are hung to dry...it's a full day of lifting, pushing, wiping, stretching, walking, holding steady). You are always adapting (weather and use perpetually change the bath). But in the end you are rewarded with a bounty of beautiful work...that ALWAYS takes you by surprise. "I did that?" you ask yourself as you go through paper after marbled paper, usually around 30 to 40 of them after a two-day marbling marathon. "My goodness these are stunning," you finally admit to yourself. And the mental and physical toll of a hard day's work vanishes in a snap.

Barb marbling

THAT, I am proud to say, is the experience I got to share with Ann. And while those who have seen our finished works can (and do) admire them, can (and do) ask about the process, can (and do) complement us on our work, they don't fully experience the art the way I, and now Ann, can (and do). That is not to say they can't appreciate it. Indeed, I can appreciate and admire and connect with, say, a sculpture. But because I've never sculpted before, on some level I am missing out on something...a component of the sculpture...and that impacts my ability to wholly experience it.

But now I have someone who understands---as much as I do--the thrill, the addiction, and the lure of marbling. Call Ann and me what you will: partners in crime, co-conspirators, marbling soul mates, joined at the marbling hips, whatever. I, however, will simply call us lucky.

(Click on the first photo below to be taken to a page where the photos are larger and you can advance through them using the arrows in the upper right-hand side.)