GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics can be used to marbleize paper, fabric and other objects. They can be used on most marbling sizes, including methylcellulose and carrageenan.


"Marbleizing" (also called "marbling") is an intricate art form with numerous techniques and many variables that must be considered. Below are our recommendations on how GOLDEN products can be used in such applications. This information sheet does not cover every aspect of this technique; it only discusses the concerns directly related to using GOLDEN products. For a better understanding of marbleizing, consult books and other printed resources that deal more completely with this topic.


  • Shallow, Flat Tray or Pan: Should be at least 1 1/2 inches deep. A cardboard tray with a plastic bag liner maybe used for trials and children"s use. Choose a tray that has adequate space for the sheet of paper or cloth, with at least a 2" gap from each edge.
  • Size (or Medium): One gallon (mixed) Carrageenan (derived from Atlantic seaweed) or Methylcellulose (commercially used pulp thickener). This amount should be enough to "balance" the colors; actual amounts for projects will vary. These products can be found in most art stores. Follow manufacturer"s directions on preparation. Store unused amounts in a labeled, refrigerated plastic jug.
  • Paint: GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics (thinned with water, water with additions of Wetting Agent or GAC 900) is our best recommendation for marbling. Other paint lines - GOLDEN Iridescent, Interference, High Load, Heavy Body and Matte Colors - may be used for this technique, but require additional modification to allow proper spreading on the bath. ‚Äč
  • GOLDEN Wetting Agent (formerly Acrylic Flow Release): This paint additive assists in balancing the colors" rate of spread on the size. It also helps the paint penetrate into the paper or fabric. *This product should be safely handled according to label directions.
  • GOLDEN GAC 900: This product is an acrylic medium that increases the washability of marbled fabric. It is not needed for paper or non-wearable objects. *This product must be heat-set and handled according to label directions.
  • Stylus: Toothpicks, sticks, nails, or other household items can be used to manipulate the floating paints. These can also be taped or glued (evenly spaced) to long, rectangular pieces of cardboard to make a comb or rake to develop intricate patterns.
  • Paper or Cloth: For paint application. High quality white preferable.
  • Aluminum Sulfate: commonly referred to as "alum". Can be found in most art and garden supply stores. *This material is highly caustic and extreme care should be taken when handled!
  • Color Applicators/Dispensers: Whisks made of broom straw, squeeze bottles, eyedroppers, pipettes.
  • Water. Needed for mixing, washing and cleaning. Be sure water is relatively neutral. Distilled water is preferable for color mixing and size mixtures.
  • Newspapers and/or Paper Towels.
  • Patience: Essential when trying to learn how to marble.


Alum Preparation

It is important to alum the material, as this serves to make a more permanent bond of the paint to the paper or cloth. Add 1/4 cups alum to a gallon of water. Mix well until all alum has dissolved.

Pour the alum-water into the tray and soak the paper or cloth until both sides are completely damp. Where the paper or cloth is not damp, the pattern will not take. You may also pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spritz on. Use a sponge to remove excess. Pat dry or hang on a line until dry. The material must be fully dry in order to get a good transfer of pattern. Some marblers press the paper or iron it to remove wrinkles. Plan on doing this the day before any marbling to allow the material to fully dry.

Size/Medium Preparation

Follow the manufacturers" directions completely. Generally speaking, carrageenan should sit for a day before attempting to marble on it. Methylcellulose may only take several hours. This waiting period is essential to make sure the material has fully hydrated. You will know this has occurred when the mixture appears very smooth, and any lumps are gone. Keep the mixture in a cool area, refrigerating if possible. The cooler the mixture is when actually marbleizing, the better the performance. Once made, you should treat the mixture like a food product, as both these products can spoil, especially carrageenan. *If using a refrigerator containing food, avoid contact between these materials and foodstuffs.


Mixing the Paints
  • Paper
    For applications onto paper, GOLDEN Fluid Colors or must be diluted with water for marbleizing onto paper. Balancing of colors (described below) will be required.
  • Fabric
    For applications onto fabric, the addition of GAC 900 becomes important to ensure adequate launderability (heat setting required). Generally, a 1:1 mixture of GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics and GAC 900 yields satisfactory results. Again, balancing of colors (see below) may be required.
  • Prepare a solution of 1 part (by volume) GOLDEN Wetting Agent and 7 parts distilled water. This mixture will be used to "balance" the colors (see below). Balancing the colors is an important step, in which all colors are adjusted to spread equally on the size. Generally, a well-balanced set of colors is desired, however, one can take advantage of unbalanced colors for special effects.


Fill the tray with medium to a depth of at least 1" and let it sit for several minutes. Wait for bubbles to dissipate.

Balancing the colors is often the most difficult and time-consuming task in marbleizing. Start by testing each color mixture, placing a small, equal-sized drop onto the size. The colors should "spread" out fairly quickly and uniformly, usually to a diameter of around 3". If a color spreads very slowly, or drops below the surface of the size, begin adding small amounts of the Wetting Agent/water solution to the color. Continue testing and adding solution until the desired spread pattern is achieved. For colors that continue to be very difficult to spread, a stronger Wetting Agent/water solution may prove useful (water 3:1 A.F.R.). If, on the other hand, the color spreads out too quickly, its reactivity should be reduced by adding water and/or the acrylic medium (GAC 100 for paper or GAC 900 for fabric).

(*Note: Between each series of trials, make sure the surface is very clean of paint. This can be done by laying down a paper towel to collect any paint, or by "skimming" the surface with newspaper strips. If too many drops of color submerge into the size, it will disrupt the surface tension of the medium, which will affect the performance of the paints. For this reason, work in small trays to balance the colors, and change the size frequently as it becomes murky).

Once all of the colors seem to be spreading at roughly the same rate and relatively the same size diameter, the colors can be further refined by making bulls-eyes with them. For each of the colors in your set, place one drop of color onto the size, and let it fully spread. Next, apply a drop of each other color directly into the center of the circle. If a color drop submerges below the surface, it means the first color dominated it and more Wetting Agent/water needs to be added to the weaker color.

This process will further balance the colors, but individual pigments will behave differently, and it is futile to attempt to get all colors precisely equal. It is better to note the rate of each color"s spread, which will help you to develop a "sequence" in which the colors need to be laid out. If a color noticeably dominates the other colors, it should be one of the last applied to the size. It will most likely create the maximum level of surface tension which will not allow other colors to spread, and the overall color intensity will not be as great. Conversely, add the slower spreading colors first to allow them to fully open. As you may be beginning to imagine, this is a delicate process, and by no means an exact one.


Once the colors are balanced as desired,begin carefully dropping the colors onto the size.

Color Placement

Using a whisk, or other applicator, randomly apply several drops of any given color, according to the color sequence established during the balancing of the paints. Avoid applying too much of one particular color. Instead, apply the color you wish to be the outstanding color early (if not first) in the sequence to allow it to spread the most. Use the location and quantity of the colors to achieve the desired effect. The surface is saturated, or "full," when additional drops of color no longer spread out over the surface or begin to sink. Using combs, picks or other tools, manipulate the colors into a pattern.

Note: We suggest anyone considering developing this technique to look at some of the many books on the art of marbleizing that have examples of patterns. These resources will give a greater knowledge of materials and techniques.

Transferring Pattern to Paper/Fabric

Once the pattern is created, carefully lay the paper or fabric onto the surface. This should be done by holding opposite corners of the paper or cloth, then allowing the center to touch the surface of the medium first. Let go of the corners and the paper will lay down evenly. Allow 3-5 seconds for the pattern to transfer. Gently pick up the paper/fabric at its corners, allow excess medium to come off. Carefully wash off excess color and size with cool water. Hang to dry.

Any fabrics that are intended to be laundered must be heat-set after the garment has completely dried. Follow the heat set directions for the GAC 900.


The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.