Updated January 2021
Marbling is one of our favorite art activities and we’ve done it many ways and many times over the years. We’ve marbled paper with all kinds of paints from watercolors, tempera, acrylics, and even food coloring. We’ve marbled all kinds of surfaces. And we’ve tried every technique from Suminagashi to shaving cream marbling.
If you’d like to learn how to marble paper, read on. I’ll share six ways that are easy, fun, and kid-friendly.
How to Marble Paper (6 Easy Techniques)
Note: Many of these marbling techniques will work fine on other materials as well—cardstock, cardboard, paper plates, wood blocks, craft sticks, ornaments, boxes, and even Easter eggs. So no need to limit yourself to paper.
1. DIY Marbled Paper with Shaving Cream
The best, easiest, and cheapest DIY marbled paper is done with shaving cream marbling. This is one of our all-time favorite art activities for toddlers on through adults. Seriously. You have to try it. You can also check out my video of shaving cream marbling in action!
2. Marbled Paper with Oil and Food Color
Marbling with oil and food coloring is one of the easiest ways to marble paper and it uses materials you likely already have at home. Beautiful!
3. Suminagashi Marbling
Suminagashi is the ancient art of Japanese water marbling. You can buy this simple Suminagashi kit for about 10 bucks, as we have done, and have everything you need except for the paper.
This has been one of our favorite art activities and we owe Valerie Deneen of of Inner Child Fun a big thanks for introducing it to us. Here’s her post on Suminagashi for kids that started it all for us.
4. Marbled Paper with Liquid Starch
This is a marbling technique for kids that I’ve always wanted to try and sorta did and sorta didn’t. (We made our own starchy medium with cornstarch and it was only partially effective.) But apparently you can use liquid starch to marble paper easily as the starch keeps the paint near the surface.
Here’s a tutorial for marbling with liquid starch on Buggy and Buddy (they used their marbled paper to make artful Christmas Trees).
UPDATE: We’ve since done this technique a few times and it works great! Here’s my post about paper marbling with acrylic paint and liquid starch.
5. Marbled Paper with Rainbow Milk
One of our most repeated science experiments is the rainbow milk experiment. You use food coloring and dish soap to create beautiful explosions of color as the dish soap interacts with the milk fats.
My friend Ana from Babble Dabble Do helps her kids capture the beauty with marbled milk paper prints as they do the experiment, combining art and science.
6. Nail Polish Marbling
Marbling with nail polish is very effective and fun, but, shall we say, a bit smelly. Nail polish works beautifully for marbling, though, and we marbled our way through many Christmas ornaments, cards, and wooden shapes a couple of years ago using this tutorial for marbling with nail polish on Design Mom.
Because of the smell and relative permanence of the nail polish, not to mention the smell and toxicity of the nail polish remover you need to use when removing said nail polish from areas it shouldn’t be, I wouldn’t recommend this marbling technique for little kids. But it’s definitely worth at least one try with older kids and adults. (It makes an awesome ladies craft night!)
How about you? Which of these marbling techniques have you tried already? Which ones do you want to give a go at?
More Marbling Activities for Kids
- How to Make Marble Paper Art Landscape Collages for Kids
- Paper Marbling with Acrylic Paint and Liquid Starch
- Shaving Cream Marbling with Kids
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