Expressive Adventures in Book Arts

Friday, July 6, 2012


April showers fell belatedly in May and inspired some watery play.  We explored Suminagashi aka Japanese paper marbling.

Our plan had been to see what sorts of artist books the prints would inspire.  We never got that far.   We just couldn't stop making the Suminagashi prints.Each one was an exciting surprise.

Here are some of the prints we made. 
Josette Lee
Miriam Frischer

Pam Wright

Debbie Stone
Karen  Summerlin
Jo Renbeck
Lorraine Hartin Gelardi
(double click on any image to enlarge)

SUMINAGASHI HOW TO:  Be forewarned, Suminagashi is definitely addicting!

Put about one inch of water in a low sided dish a little larger than your paper. 

Dip a slender brush or a bamboo skewer in ink and just touch it to the surface of the water. 
     Use Sumi ink or India ink or any drawing ink made with shellac, or the new color suminagashi inks by Boku-Undo

Dip another slender brush or a bamboo skewer into a dispersant that will repel the ink. Touch it to the water. Watch the ink spread out.
Depending on the ink you choose, use one of the following:
water with a very very small amount of detergent, 
a small dot of white glue on the end of a skewer, 
the oils from your face or hair. (Just rub the skewer along the side of your nose or along your scalp.  Truly!)
You can use the Boku-Undo inks without a dispersant.

Alternate touches with ink and the dispersant. You will grow a giant bullseye that you can manipulate with one of your tools.  You will soon find other ways to vary the pattern.

Gently lay a piece of paper on the surface of the water.  Lift it away from the water by peeling it back from one side to the other.  Place it to dry on a piece of newsprint, or plexiglass.
Unsized papers work best.  
construction paper, 
some recycled papers, 
copperplate paper, 
Arches 88 paper,
Yosumoto "sketch paper" ( not their "painting sketch paper")

Change your water occasionally.  You will figure out the best frequency depending on when the prints begin to look blurry.  The whole process is one of experimentation, in which you have about 30% control at best. Another way to put that is that the forces of nature are contributing 70% of their best efforts on your behalf!

Suminagashi, or Japanese paper marbling is a low tech process that can yield some high impact results, even for beginners. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I also do Suminagashi and teach it around the Dallas Fort Worth area.