How to Make Your Own Marbling Ink

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Things You'll Need

  • Old oil paints

  • Turpentine

  • Newspaper

  • Glass or ceramic bowl

  • Scissors

  • Fork

  • Palette knife

  • Scrap paper

  • Paintbrush

  • Glass jars with secure lids

  • Masking tape

  • Permanent marker

Save money by making your own mableizing ink.

Beautiful hand-marbleized paper is often used in bookmaking or other paper crafts. The marbling pigments sold by most arts-and-crafts suppliers can be quite expensive and are not always readily available. Instead, follow these instructions to make your own inks with old oil paints, that can be used to create elegant marbleized papers.


Step 1

Save old paints to make ink.

Collect old oil paints for the ink. Almost empty paint tubes, small pieces of oil sticks and dried globules of paint on palettes work very well.

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Step 2

Select a well-ventilated area with a sturdy, level table or bench for your workspace. A studio with a large work surface is ideal; however, a carport and folding table are more than adequate. Cover all exposed surfaces with newspaper.

Step 3

Wearing surgical gloves, prepare the oil pigments in a ceramic bowl. Use scissors to cut the ends off old paint tubes and to remove the labels from oil sticks. Use a fork to grind the paint solids into a thick paste. Mix colors to achieve the desired hue.


Step 4

Stir mixture well.

Add one to two capfuls of turpentine to the oil paste. With the palette knife, stir the mixture until it is smooth and lump free. Add more turpentine to dissolve stubborn bits of pigment.


Step 5

The ink should be semitransparent when painted on paper.

Paint a small area of the scrap paper to test the ink's consistency. This should produce a semitransparent color. If the ink is too opaque, add more turpentine to the mixture. Add more pigment to create a richer color.


Step 6

Store your ink in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

Carefully transfer the mixture to a glass jar with a well-fitting lid. Use masking tape and a fine-tipped permanent marker to label and date the container. These inks have a virtually unlimited shelf life.


Tape a piece of the color test paper to the top of the ink jar for a quick reference. For a cheap alternative to oil paint, try using a cattle marker. Most feed stores keep several colors in stock. Linseed oil or mineral spirits are an alternative to turpentine.


Always handle turpentine with care. It is flammable and produces hazardous fumes. To avoid muddy colors, clean all supplies with turpentine before mixing a new color of ink.


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