Marbling with oil and food coloring is beautiful! It’s one of the easiest ways to marble paper with kids and uses materials you likely already have. We did this years ago when Maia was 3 and it was past time to give it another go.
It’s messy, but worth it.
We still LOVE marbling paper with shaving cream, but the effect is completely different with oil.
Marbling with Oil and Food Coloring
Since oil and water repel rather than mix, the oil marbling technique creates bubbles of color and white spots. Where there are oil bubbles, the water-based food coloring won’t stick to the paper.
Here’s how to use the oil marbling technique…
- Vegetable oil*
- Food coloring** or liquid watercolors
- Watercolor paper or cardstock, cut into quarters
- Droppers (optional)
- Dishes and utensils (pie pan or baking dish, small cups or bowls, forks, spoons)
*Baby oil or mineral oil may work just as well, but we used vegetable oil.
**Use the liquid food coloring rather than the gel kind. We tried both and the liquid kind definitely works better. If you have liquid watercolor paint, you can use it interchangeably with the food coloring as we did.
Step 1. Mix Oil and Color
Pour a small amount of vegetable oil into a dish and add food coloring.
Stir vigorously with a fork so the big drops of color are dispersed throughout the oil as smaller droplets.
Repeat with as many colors as you want to use.
Step 2. Add Oil + Color Mixture to Water
Pour an inch of water, give or take, into a shallow pie pan or baking dish.
Use a dropper or spoon to transfer the oil + color mixture to the dish of water. Use one color or many.
Step 3. Marble Your Paper
Lay your paper on top of the water…
…then lift to reveal your marbled paper.
Add more colors and repeat!
After a couple of rounds, the water may be too muddy or saturated to get a pleasing effect. At that point, you can dump the water and start fresh with a new layer of clean water. (We kept a large pot in the studio for each person to dump their used water into.)
Step 4. Let your marbled paper dry.
Lay the newly marbled paper flat to dry.
And if have 5 people going to town with the oil marbling technique as we did, you may need to hang up some of the marbled paper after they are no longer at risk of dripping.
Note :: The paper is very oily at first, but as the artwork dries, the oil is absorbed into the paper and it no longer feels oily to the touch. Which means you can use it for notecards, DIY notebooks, buntings, and other crafts.
See this post for craft ideas and instructions –> 10 Crafts to Make from Kids Process Art
What do you think? Are you ready to give marbling with oil a try with your kids?
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