Paper marbling is an art that has been around for centuries. Years ago there were fancy chemical cocktails and extensive processes to get those beautiful colors to float on a medium, swirl together, and then stick to paper. Today were going to explore the ancient art of paper marbling and you’re not even going to have to open your craft cupboard.
Okay, you may have to dig in your pantry and your medicine cabinet, but you’ve got it all! I promise!)
Not only is this a project that has that “ah-ha” bit of magic to the process it also drives home an essential element of art; color! (Click here to see my free elements of art printable and my free color wheel printable!) This paper marbling uses cheapie liquid food coloring. Food coloring comes in only the basic colors. Ours came in the primary colors (red, yellow, & blue) plus a green thrown in!
Depending on what colors you supply the kids with this can be an excellent intro into color mixing, primary colors, and secondary colors.
Because the kiddos I did this were on the younger side I threw in a classic book about color mixing; Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. I have owned this book longer than I have had children. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s a great illustration of what happens when two primary colors get mixed together!
One thing I love about this project is how simple the necessary materials are. You probably already have them and if you don’t you could easily grab them at any dollar store.
Food coloring, shaving cream, a shallow tray, and some decent paper are all you need!
Shaving cream is a whole sensory experience in itself!
The first step is spray some shaving cream onto your shallow pan. My kids loved the whole “expanding shaving cream” thing and the smell. Spreading it out with their hands makes this a real sensory experience.
Next, drop liquid food coloring onto the shaving cream. The closer together your drops are the more vibrant your final product will be. Using only the three primary colors allows your kids to see the magic of making secondary colors!
Take a toothpick or a skewer and go back and forth through the shaving cream. This will begin to mix the drops of color and create the marbled pattern.
Once your drops of color are sufficiently mixed lay your paper down on top of the marbled shaving cream. Pat it lightly taking care not to smear it from side to side.
Lift it up gently and set it off to the side.
There will still be lots of color left on the shaving cream that is remaining. We made two, sometimes three prints from each batch of shaving cream. Each print got slightly less clean and clear but they are still beautiful and fun and give us some awesome patterned paper to make even more art with!
After the papers have dried for awhile use a scrap of cardboard to scrape any excess shaving cream off.
Shaving cream paper marbling makes for a beautiful clean up!
We made several batches of shaving cream marbled paper. As you can see we had about as much fun with the clean up as we did the process of marbling. Shaving cream is an awesome tactile experience. Add in some colors to mix and swirl and it doesn’t get much more fun than this. We walked around with tie dyed hands for a few days, but hey, it was so worth it!
We’re going to use these pretty paper as covers for handmade books we are going to be making in co-op class! We might even do some weaving with any left over scraps! I’ll be sure to post a link when those are up and running!
If you were inspired to go make something with your kiddos please share this post and pass the creativity along.