Art doesn’t have to be sophisticated or fancy or require advanced technical skill to be totally worth making.  I love introducing kids to art processes that are spontaneous and somewhat random in their results.  One, because everyone is successful and who doesn’t love that?  And two, because it’s fun.  This paper marbling definitely fits the bill.

So we’ve got an art process that is fun, and easy, and also a sure thing success wise.  The other bonus is this one requires no fancy materials.  Really, this paper marbling doesn’t require any art supplies at all.  Everything you need will be right in your pantry!

Paper marbling supplies….

All you need is some vegetable oil, some liquid food coloring, a shallow tray or dish and some decently heavy paper.  we also used some little condiment cups with lids to mix our oil and food coloring but you could use any container with a lid!

The first time we worked on this we did it outside. I won’t lie, it’s a little messy.  The second time we tried it out we did it inside on the kitchen counters.  I threw down some newspaper and we were good to go.  It’s totally do-able inside if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your arty plans!

Just like oil and water….

Some things just don’t mix.  (I have a couple of kids like that, if you know what I mean.)  This is an excellent time to send your kids off to do some research.  Is it a density issue, a polarity issue, or what?  Insert world wide web search here.

I filled small plastic cups about half full of vegetable oil.  The kids squeezed in whatever combinations of liquid food coloring they chose.  The food coloring dropped to the bottom of the oil   The really cool part was watching the little bubbles of food coloring join with bubbles of another color.  So weird how they just popped into each other and so fun to watch.

Gettin’ ready….

Fill a large tray with an inch or so of water.  I used a disposable aluminum roasting pan.

Shake up the oil and water cups.  Now it’s time to distribute the oil and color on the surface of the water.  We tried gently pouring it and dropping bits of it with an eye dropper.  The results were pretty similar.  Do what your children love the best.  If they like eye droppers use them.

I love introducing kids to art processes that are spontaneous and somewhat random in their results.  Everyone is successful with this paper marbling

Print it up…..

When your color is laying on top of the water lay a paper on the top.  You don’t need to swirl or  smush or anything; just lay it on the top and gently lift it up again.

Lay the marbled paper off to the side.  At this point the colors are still swirling a bit.  You can manipulate the colors by tilting the paper back and forth.

I love introducing kids to art processes that are spontaneous and somewhat random in their results. Everyone is successful with this paper marbling

Clean it up…

We left our marbled papers laying in the grass and went about the rest of our day.  When I came back I was surprised to find the papers crawling with ants.  Apparently vegetable oil attracts the creepy crawlies.

No worries.  We brushed ’em off and good as new.

I love introducing kids to art processes that are spontaneous and somewhat random in their results.  Everyone is successful with this paper marbling

Paper marbling is not a new art.  There are both many traditional processes and new crafty ways to marble paper and other objects.  Check out this post to see how to use shaving cream to marble paper!