That would be an amazing project for the Winter Light Festival in Perth. The festival, which runs in July transforms Brookfield Place into a journey of art and light comprising a host of eye-catching events and installations. A captivating and luminous series of projections transform the heritage façade of the Royal Insurance and WA Trustee buildings in sync with a luminaire extraordinaire light display on the adjacent Newspaper House and Perth Technical College. The video is from Garip Ay -the best of Ebru!
The first marbling methods were developed in the East when Chinese and Japanese artists began to decorate paper. The form of marbling that was first discovered by Western travelers to the East, is called “Ebru” paper marbling and was developed in Turkey between the 15th and 16th century during the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. Historically, the Turkish stone pattern is the oldest of Western marbled patterns. Scholars maintain that this pattern had reached Europe as early as the 1400’s, although there are no known dated Ebru works. One of the earliest documented sheets of marbled paper dates from 1447 and comes from Turkey (see Historical Book Arts). A well-known Ebru, dated 1539, is in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum, and is presented in Arifi’s “Guy-i Cevgan.”
Not many people are aware of the role that Turkish Ebru marbling played in the everyday lives of Europeans, and later in the Western world. After this form of art was discovered by Europeans in Istanbul (previously Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium) during the 1500’s, the immense contribution that Ebru marbling made to the overall history of the book has often not been fully appreciated, except by individuals who are active in the antiquarian book trade, or involved with research libraries.
Paper historians maintain that European marbling seems to have begun as early as the 16th Century, although Turkish papers were being imported before that time. Because the history of European marbling consists of individual countries and individual masters, it has been said that “attempting to reconstruct European marbling history is very much like working an old jigsaw puzzle, some of whose pieces are lost, some disfigured, some misplaced, and others still not turned right side up.”* The 1604 German Album Amicorum is one of the earliest known examples of European marbling.
In England, marbling was spurred by travel. In A Relation of a Journey Begun in 1610 by George Sandys, the author describes the marbling process that he observes in Turkey. This book first appeared in 1615. In Sylva Sylvarum published in 1627, Sir Francis Bacon also mentions Turkish paper marbling. Sir Thomas Herbert, a diplomat observed the marbling process in Persia and wrote about Ebru in Some years travels into divers parts of Africa, and Asia the Great: Describing more particularly the empires of Persia and Industan, which first appeared in 1634.
In addition, the unique methods of marbling attracted the curiosity of early scientists during the Renaissance. While the earliest published account was written in German by Daniel Schwenter, it was not published in his Delicæ Physico-Mathematicæ until 1671. A brief description of the art, which rapidly spread throughout Europe, was published in Rome in 1646 by Athanasius Kircher, inArs Magna Lucis et Umbræ. A thorough overview of the art with illustrations of marblers at work, and images of the tools of the trade, was published in the Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert. The art became a popular handicraft in the 19th century after the Englishman Charles Woolnough published The Art of Marbling in 1853. The author describes how he adapted a method of marbling onto book-cloth, which he exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851. Further contributions to the art of marbling were made by Josef Halfer, a bookbinder of German origin, who lived in Budakeszi, Hungary. After the publication of his book Die Fortschritte der Marmorierkunst, translations were made into many languages, and his work reached the U.S. It was Halfer who discovered a method for preserving carrageenan, and his methods superseded earlier ones in Europe and the U.S.
The first book to provide a history of marbled paper in Europe is Decorated Book Papers by Rosamond B. Loring, published in 1942. Loring was a paper scholar, a skilled maker of marbled and paste papers, and a collector. Having trained as a bookbinder, Loring experimented with making decorated papers for her own use and received early instruction in the art of marbling from Charles V. Saflund (a distinguished teacher of marbling and paste paper techniques). Loring’s personal collection now resides at the Rosamond B. Loring Collection of Decorated Papers in the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library, Harvard University.
It should be noted that other forms of paper decoration include paste papers and printed papers. In the former, binders paste is mixed with color and then paper, or the edges of books are brushed or daubed with paste. Designs in the paste are created by drawing with a tool or a finger through the paste, or using a variety of tools pressed into the paste. (Note: printed papers consist of printed images on paper—the one form that produces papers that are identical. All other processes mentioned above are done by hand and are, therefore, unique)
Wolfe, Richard J. Marbled Paper: Its History, Techniques, and Patterns: With Special Reference to the Relationship of Marbling to Bookbinding in Europe and the Western World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.
Diderot, Denis, and Jean le Rond D’Alembert, eds. “Marbreur de papier”. L’Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers.” University of Chicago: Collaborative Translation Project
The most prominent difference between European and Turkish marbling is the materials that they use. Turkish marblers use natural mineral pigment paints and ox-gall that are chemical free and organic. Secondly, Turkish marblers do not treat the paper with alum prior to marbling. Ox-gall works as an adherent and the paint sticks to the paper without any special preparation. Due to the natural and organic qualities of paints and ox-gall, it becomes very difficult to give exact proportions and formulas for preparing the paints. It takes time to understand the complex interaction between the ingredients. Turkish marblers need to fine tune and adjust their paints each and every time before they use. Therefore, if you are planning to start learning Ebru, you need to be ready to do a lot of experimentation in order to get things right. Ebru seems too easy when you watch at Youtube but one should be aware that it takes time to get there. The preparations and knowledge that it takes to bring paints to that condition so that they float on the surface without any issues is the most difficult part of Ebru. Once you master the alchemy of Ebru , the rest is just a manifestation of your creativity and artistic skills.
Below is a combed Ebru from Garip Ay, my favorite Turkish Ebru artist.
I am thrilled to announce that we are now officially American residents !!! We moved to Brookfield, WI. on the Christmas Day. So, a new year, a new country, a new job (that is for my husband though) and a new life…
I have mixed feelings about it! It is very cold in here but when you look out of the window, the scenery is just like a fairy tale. I had always thought I could never get enough of those beaches and the warm sun in Australia but now I realize that we have truly missed snow. It is so beautiful! Also, working full-time in Australia and studying part-time, with two children, all on my own for the last 6 months, I was exhausted! I could not really find any time to update my web-site! Now, my husband goes to work, kids go to school and I stay home!!!! After 16 years of full-time teaching, I could finally take some time off and focus on what I have always wanted to do : Spread the joy of EBRU!
I am hoping to get to know more people in America, teach them Ebru and learn different forms of art from them. Get inspired, share the wisdom, discuss the possibilities and experiment with various artistic methods, techniques and make new discoveries.
My Australian customers, do not worry ! My Australian office is still open. You can still have your orders shipped to NSW, QLD, SA, WA , NT or TAS. It MIGHT take a bit longer than usual, but I still supply Ebru materials to my loyal Australian customers. Ebru enthusiasts who live in America, you can get in touch with me if you would like to learn more about Traditional Turkish Water-Marbling art. I look forward to hearing from you! Let`s get the ball rolling!!!:)
Ebru is the traditional Turkish art of creating colourful patterns by sprinkling and brushing colour pigments onto a pan of oily water and then transferring the patterns to paper. Known as marbling, the designs and effects include flowers, foliage, ornamentation, latticework, mosques and moons, and are used for decoration in the traditional art of bookbinding. The practitioner uses natural methods to extract colours from natural pigments, which are then mixed with a few drops of ox-gall, a kind of natural acid, before sprinkling and brushing the colours onto a preparation of condensed liquid, where they float and form swirling patterns. Ebru artists, apprentices and practitioners consider their art to be an integral part of their traditional culture, identity and lifestyle. Their knowledge and skills, as well as the philosophy behind this art, are transmitted orally and through informal practical training within master-apprentice relationships. Achieving basic skills in Ebru takes at least two years. The tradition is practised without barrier of age, gender or ethnicity, and plays a significant role in the empowerment of women and the improvement of community relationships. The collective art of Ebru encourages dialogue through friendly conversation, reinforces social ties and strengthens relations between individuals and communities.
Decision 9.COM 10.44
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
R.1: Ebru patterns and designs are transmitted from masters to students, promoting the participation of women and youth in cultural life and thereby strengthening consciousness about identity and cultural heritage;
R.2: The inscription of the element on the Representative List could encourage the renewal of its artistic language and the development of a network of creative communities; it could also promote the exchange of marbling experiences, thereby contributing to dialogue among different communities and artists;
R.3: Both the State Party and the communities concerned are committed to safeguarding the Turkish art of marbling through a series of measures that varies from the creation of a research and apprenticeship centre to a learning project for children, from fostering documentation to its promotion through symposiums and museological work;
R.4: The nomination process has been driven by the interest and demand expressed by the community of practitioners that has expressed through several working groups its free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;
R.5: The element was included in 2010 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory of Turkey carried out under the authority of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and updated in 2013.
Information is from:
Yesterday I gave my last Ebru workshop before I fly to Turkey on 20th of June. It was like a clear, bright window to me amongst the busy days. I like it very much when people tell me that they really enjoyed the workshop and they wish to do it again. Sometimes they buy the Ebru kit and try to do it at home. I give guidance to the ones who want to do Ebru by themselves in Perth. However I also do distant teaching. My wonderful student, Daniel from NSW, hadn’t done any marbling before when he wrote to me.
Yesterday, was a big day for me. Intercultural Harmony Society organized WA Parliament Iftar Dinner which was hosted by members of WA Parliament. The Iftar dinner aimed to enhance and deepen relationships of Muslims and members of the wider community. There were so many Western Australian Parliamentarians, journalists, senior members of academia, multi-faith community leaders and the Muslim community’s religious and civic leaders. Because Ebru is known as one of the best forms of Islamic Art, as an Ebru practitioner I was invited to make a live Ebru demonstration for the guests. Sufi music group accompanied me through my performance and my Ebru performance on the tray was projected to wide screen for the guests to watch. I couldn’t take my eyes off the tray at all so I do not know what people thought about it but at the end of the show many people congratulated me and told me that they liked it a lot. That appreciation of Ebru Art made me so happy. Before the dinner I was busy for weeks preparing 100 hand marbled silk handkerchieves for the guests as a memory of the night. I am so proud that I could give the participants a small Ebru gift to take away with themselves. I hope they like it.
These are the silk handkerchieves that I marbled for the dinner at the Parliament House of WA.