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How To Use Shaving Foam To Create Marbled Craft Papers

Updated on January 8, 2015

What Is Marbled Paper?

Marbled paper is probably familiar to everyone, even if you are unsure of what it is called. Those swirled and patterned end papers in books are probably the best examples but it is used in many applications.

There are many methods of achieving this sort of patterning, some easy and some hard. Some use special chemicals to give the correct surface tension in the color bath and some use items that you will find in most homes. This photograph is an example which I made using a simple method which utilises nothing more than shaving foam and food colouring or inexpensive acrylic paints. It was actually made using an A4 ( 11 x 8.5 inch) sheet of ordinary printer paper, the image shows a detail The size you can make is only limited by your equipment.

This page shows you how to achieve such patterns with ordinary shaving foam.This particular technique uses the foam to make a bed for the colours, which can be food colouring dyes, or acrylic inks or paints. this lens shows you how to create marbled papers that you can use for your craft projects. It is easy and guarantees great results. Interested? Then read on............

The Equipment You Will Need For This Project

Marbling A Sheet Of Paper Using Shaving Foam

Nothing too onerous in this list, you will probably have most of it in your kitchen.

A tray to hold the foam and colour layer

A palette knife to level the foam

An implement to swirl the colours

A sqeegee to remove the foam (I used an ice scraper from my car)

Newspaper and tissue to help avoid any mess

The colours. These can be food colouring, acrylic inks or acrylic paints thinned down.

Prepare The Foam Layer

This Forms A Bed For The Colours

Give the can a shake to liven up the contents, in case it has been standing around too long. You will need to spray a layer of foam over the tray, about half an inch ( 10-15 mm) deep. Use a palette knife to roughly level the surface. No need to be too discerning about this.

Spread Your Colours

Choose Them To Give The Desired Colour Scheme

Take your selected colours, Until you are practised it is probably good enough to use 3 or 4 and pour or drip them onto the surface of the foam. The colours you choose will reflect the colour scheme that you wish to achieve. The amount of colour is best found out by experimentation. But for starters do not be too generous. Take small steps before bigger ones.

You can see what colours will work together, if you need help by visiting my lens On how to use the colour wheel.

Swirl The Colours

Have Fun With This Step

Use your creative imagination to swirl the colours to provide an interesting pattern. This could be as simple or as complcated as you want . But do think of the end result as you twirl away. From side to side and cross-ways is good. Little eddies or whirlpools can be very effective

Now The Exciting Part

Printing The Pattern

Laying And Pulling The Paper

We now have a bed of foam with a coloured pattern on it. Take the paper and place it on to the foam bed. Lightly press or rub the back of the paper to make sure that the whole surface contacts the foam bed and the colour.

Now take a corner of the paper and peel it back without disturbing the foam bed. Lay it on some newspaper ( face-up) to allow the colour to take for a few minutes. I often print a second or third sheet at the same time to use up the colour on the foam bed.

Now take a scraper or squeegee and remove the foam from the paper by lightly pulling the scraper across the paper. You may need several passes, wipe the scraper after each pass. You may need to practice to find out how long to leave the paper before removing the foam as it will depend upon the colours you have used and how quickly they dry.

More Examples Of Paper Marbling Using Shaving Foam

These are some examples of marbled paper which I did earlier: The first is actually a print from a third impression (i.e. the third print from a foam bed after the foam had been re-swirled) and the surface of the foam was getting quite "dirty" from the paint which shows as a greyness in the image.

The combinations are endless. With different colours and different ways of swirling or combing the surface of the foam. The resulting papers can be used in all sorts of craft projects.

Books on paper marbling from Amazon - learn the professional techniques

using shaving foam is a fun project and the items are to be found in most kitchens ( use food colourings rather than acrylic paints) but the real beauty of marbling can only be achieved using techniques explored in these books.

I would welcome any comments on this lens, especially suggestions for improvement. But I would really be glad to hear about your own experiences with this method.

Try It Yourself - And Let Me Know How You Get On

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    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 2 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Very nice tutorial for marbling paper with shaving cream. I wasn't able to see the images that you speak of in the paragraph that starts, More examples of paper marbling. Would have liked to see them.

    • profile image

      Paul Thomson 2 years ago

      Great tutorial John, thanks for taking the time out to post it.

      FYI, I used it as a reference on a recent paper marbling tutorial I did myself a week or two ago, figured it might be a a good resource for some of your readers...

      Keep up the good work and again, many thanks!

      ~ Paul

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      Wow, so simple and yet so effective. Great tips.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 3 years ago from California

      I've never heard of using shaving cream for this. Looks like fun!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I really want to try this. Thanks for the great instructions.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I teach kids, but am a reading support educator, so I would not have many opportunities to use this, but I am thinking this would be a great idea for "Friday Fun" or the end of a unit. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      This is really good lens!

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 3 years ago

      Such a cool idea, I'd never heard of this technique before! Thanks for sharing!

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 3 years ago

      I love this idea! It looks like so much fun. Thank you for sharing this.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      This is really pretty. I want to try it.

    • laughingapple profile image

      laughingapple 4 years ago

      Very cool. Just saw a TV show on PBS where the host was in Italy. They went to a paper shop and they went over some of the process. Really beautiful stuff.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is very neat and something fun to try. Thanks for sharing your step-by-step instructions. I have to try this sometime.

    • profile image

      sherioz 4 years ago

      What an incredible idea! Maybe I missed this - but can you get very light pastel shades?

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @sherioz: Difficult with food colouring but you can buy (or mix) pastel shades of acrylic paint. Some craft shops sell speciallly formulated, liquid acrylics.

    • profile image

      sherioz 4 years ago

      What an incredible idea! Maybe I missed this - but can you get very light pastel shades?

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 4 years ago from New York

      I've only made marbled paper the old fashioned way - this looks a lot faster and easier. Will have to try it. Great photos and instructions. Blessed and featured on "Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo."

    • profile image

      TamarWrites 4 years ago

      I love this idea!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      I have heard of this technique. It makes gorgeous papers. Thanks for the instructions.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I've always loved vintage marbled paper when I saw it in old books. This procedure looks easy enough and you've explained it well, so I might get my nerve up to try it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I pinned this -- for some reason those Pinterest buttons never show that I pin! Ugh.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How cool is this! Like this idea very much! Sounds like something my kids would enjoy too!!!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Who would have thought of this variation on the very old art of making marbled paper. Amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just had to peek in here for another delightful look!...*

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 5 years ago

      An amazing method - learnt something new again today - thank you.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      This is an interesting technique that I'll have to try. Thanks!!

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 6 years ago

      Kids would have a great time with this.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      I love this lens. What a great idea. The videos are fantastic. Thank you for a very interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What an outstanding idea, I love it!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      This is fabulous! I love the idea! Angel blessed and featured on Squid Angel Mouse Tracks in Crafts.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great art project. I'll have to give this a try.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      This looks so effective! Thanks for the instructions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a great and easy craft to do....a great craft for fmaily time especially parents with young kids!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 6 years ago

      Well that sounds really easy. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions.

    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 6 years ago

      This is really cool and unique. Thanks for introducing it to me. Kudos.

    • profile image

      jgelien 6 years ago

      This is very cool! Thanks for the step by step instructions.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      This is a really interesting idea. I think there may be loads of possibilities with this technique. Am lensrolling to my How To Make Handmade Paper lens.