With Her Majesty Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands,
and Turkish President Abdullah Gul
Marbling is a method of making patterned paper by
transferring colour from the surface of a liquid to paper.
These papers are then used for the endpapers, to hide the
lumps and bumps caused by leather turn-ins and cords, or to
cover the sides of books where patterned papers don't show
marks of wear so easily as plain papers.
Marbling is a most enjoyable art form, although one
requiring great patience. The first thing is to select
suitable paper, as not all paper can be used. The paper
needs to be hard-wearing and able to absorb the paint
thoroughly. Masters of calligraphy in former times preferred
to write on what was known as 'dressed' paper, which had had
a mixture of cornstarch and egg-white rubbed over its
surface. Marbling practitioners, on the other hand,
preferred raw, 'undressed' paper since the 'dressed' version
did not absorb paint well.
traditional manner of marbling paper is often called
"Turkish" marbling or ebru because it originated in
the old Ottoman empire of the 15th century. Water-based inks
containing ox gall (bile) as a dispersant are floated on the
surface of water thickened with gum tragacanth or
carragheenan moss (actually a seaweed). The colours are then
drawn into patterns by means of sticks or combs,
specially-prepared paper is laid gently on the surface, left
for a few seconds, and just as gently removed, rinsed (to
wash off dirty size or excess colour), and hung to dry.
Papers used should be fairly hard-surfaced and treated with
alum as a mordant to take the pigment and to improve colour
tone and colour fastness.
Marbling used to be extensively employed in bookbinding
and calligraphy. On occasion, particularly interesting and
attractive designs are used as pictures. Turkey has produced
many great exponents of the art, such as Hatip Mehmed Efendi
(18th century), Şeyh Sadık Efendi (19th century) and Bekir
Efendi (early 20th century). Among the last great masters
produced after Necmeddın Okyay, both Mustafa Düzgünman (born
1920) and Niyazi Sayın (born 1927) are particularly worthy