Ebru, or the art of marbled paper, is a technique for colouring paper that can be used to decorate the bindings of books, or employed for its own sake, as a work of art. The marbler projects his colours into a tray filled with water thickened with tragacanth. The colours,
mixed with ox-gall, float on the water and repel each other. Brushes are handcrafted from rosewood and horsehair. The colours projected on the water create patterns in cloud -like forms, this is the reason this art is called “ebri”, which means “like a cloud” in Persian. The
name “ebri” has evolved into “ebru” to overcome difficulties in pronunciation of its original name. In addition, “ebru” in Persian means “eyebrow”, an image that is perfectly suited to the patterns of marbled paper.
The art of Ebru was born in Central Asia, and then spread to India, Iran, arrived inIstanbul and finally reached Europe in the early seventeenth century where it was called “Turkish paper” or “Turkish marbled paper”.
Description of the technique and tools specific to Ebru:
The tray containing the water onto which the colours are projected has certain characteristics. Originally, artisans used a tray of zinc or wood whose interior was covered with asphalt to ensure a better seal. Today, a stainless steel tray is used for easier
The size of the container depends on the size of the paper on which the painting will be applied. The dimensions of the container must be half a centimetre to five centimetres greater than the paper, depending on the patterns to be created. Because when the paper
comes in contact with the water, it increases from 2 to 3 mm, sometimes more depending on the type of paper.
The container should be 5-6 centimetres deep and the edges must be very smooth or curved so as not to catch the paper and damage the colours during removal from the container.
The water on which the colours are projected is thickened with gums or seaweed. These thickeners used in the art of marbled paper are vegetal or plant products that help to fix the colours on the paper.Carageenan is a natural seaweed gelling agent that provides a viscous surface for marbling on fabric and paper. You should add 3 tablespoons of carageenan in 5 litres of warm water. You should stir it with
spoon. The water won’t be cold or hot. You will reply the mixture 2 times more (totally 3 times). Each replication should be for 10 minutes and between the replications, you should wait for 15-20 minutes. After 5-6 hours, you can use it.
Ox-gall is without a doubt the most important ingredient in the success of marbled paper. It contains the active acids that allow the colours to float on water while preventing their mixing.
Traditionally, natural pigments (ochres, oxides and plant pigments) that do not dissolve in water are used. The colours are crushed, into powder form, mixing them with water and ox-gall until they become a smooth paste.Prepare the dyes : For each dye, make sure having enough empty bottles. Mix 2 teaspoon dyes with one cup of water in the empty bottle, then add 2 oz. Ox gall. Now, liquid pigments
can be used for Ebru.
Traditional hand-made brushes are preferred for the projection of colours in the tray. The brush is made of horsehair, the neck of rosewood and fishing line maintains the ensemble.
It is preferable to use paper with a high absorption capacity whose weight ranges between 60 and 90 grams. Glossy papers are excluded because the paint cannot be absorbed. For proper preservation of marbled papers over time, papers with a neutral pH are used