Marbling Paper with Kids :: Shaving Cream Marbling and Oil Marbling

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We finally did the marbling activity from the list, using instructions from Unplug Your Kids. We used liquid watercolors rather than food coloring and suspended the colors in oil first with vigorous stirring before adding them to the water in the pan.

Marlise and Maia had fun using the droppers to add the colors. I think they would have been happy to just do that, but they also took turns setting pieces of paper in the pan of water, oil, and paint and oohing and ahing over the designs after they lifted them up. Or maybe it was me who was oohing and ahing. I don't remember.

I thought the marbled paper was beautiful using this method, but very OILY. I can't see using it for cards or anything because of that, although I found that if you hang them in a window, the oil makes the paper more transparent and gives it a nice kind of stained glass effect. So these will go in the window. Update: The oil got absorbed after a while and the marbled paper wasn't nearly as oily.

However I decided to try some more marbling. shavingmarblingmosaic2b

We had done some shaving cream marbling with the liquid watercolors back in September, and I wanted to revisit the process using tempera paints this time. Also, last time I let the shaving cream sit on the cardstock while it dried which was a mistake. It ended up discolored and a little blurry. This time I scraped it off after about a minute with a piece of cardboard.

I really liked the shaving cream and tempera paint combo. It worked well and the finished result looked more like traditional marbled paper. Maia both painted directly on the shaving cream with a paint brush (actually a silicone pastry brush) and also used spoons to splatter the paint on, then swirled the paint around with a chopstick.

I still want to experiment with some other child-friendly marbling techniques. I found this cornstarch method where you make a "size" (suspension mixture for the paint to float on) out of cornstarch and water, then add tempera paints. I think I'll try that next. And this chalk method looks super easy.


However, our first marbling activity was fun and beautiful. Here's my favorite hanging in the window with the light shining through.

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  1. ellielaveer says

    This is fun. We may have to try it. We have done something similar, we mixed paint, water and dishsoap and blew bubbles with a straw and dipped the paper in the bubbles. Then we would do it with other colors. It turned out really pretty.

  2. Rebecca says

    Love the post, great marbelling. I always found marbelling hard so we do something similar using golf balls (paper in tray, dip balls, roll on paper) kids love it!!

  3. Barbara says

    I hope your readers notice the silicone brush. I love these (not to replace regular brushes, but in addition to). When wet, the strands stay separate instead of clumping together like regular brushes. It gives a very different effect. (And they clean up so beautifully.)

  4. Erna says

    What a great project! I’m making note of it for one of our outdoor activities. :0) I really enjoy the posts from your blog. :0)

  5. says

    I remember doing marbled paper with my mom using nail polish (we got some really awesome pink/purple swirlies), but I can’t for the life of me remember what else we added to it. I’m excited about trying these methods you mention!