Marvelous Marbling

How many times have you admired beautiful marbled silk scarves at some high end retail store?

Did you know you can make them yourself?  Throughout this post, I'll show you how easy it is to turn a plain white silk scarf into a work of colorful art.

Blog scarves stacked 

You can find marbling kits at most crafts stores.  The kit includes required chemicals used to treat the water used for this technique, as well as assorted marbling paints.

Blog scarves paint supplies

Plain, ivory colored silk scarves were used for this project but as you'll see further down in this post, you can use other types of material just as easily.

Blog scarves supplies

You'll also need a few simple items that can be found around the house.  

Different combs and a cuticle stick are just a few of the things that  can be used as tools to create the veins in the marbling.

Blog scarves supplies2

My friend Laurie Pyszkowski headed up this marbling project in her home studio which has the perfect amount of natural light streaming through the windows for great shots. 

Laurie is a talented and successful painter who specializes in one-of-a-kind, hand-painted silk scarves.  Her scarves feature lovely, intricately designed original artwork. 

Click here to visit Laurie's blog and here to browse her Etsy shop. 
Blog scarves laurie

The combination of water and a marbling chemical creates the solution which will ultimately allow the paint to sit on the solution surface before being transferred to a select piece of fabric.

Blog scarves mix

Allow the solution to sit for about 45-minutes and then pour into a large plastic bin.

The solution will turn into a light gel so that the marbling effect can take place.

Blog scarves pouring

Once the solution is in the bin, tap off any air bubbles using newspaper or butcher's block paper.  Then, begin adding the paint in small drops at a time.

The paint droplets react to the chemical in the water and that causes the paint to slowly expand across the surface of the solution.  

Blog scarves paint2

Add more paint colors as desired.  The more colors added, the more marbled veins can be created on the surface.

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Here's a closer look at how two of the colors expanded and began to blend into one another.

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Now comes the really fun part.  Use one of the household tools to gently scrape across the surface, dipping the comb barely below the surface of the solution. 

Because the solution is the consistency of a light jelly, the paint is basically stuck in place.  The scraping effect pulls the colors together in a way that gives it a marbled appearance.    
Blog scarves paint5

Once the marbling is created on the surface of the gel, it's time to transfer it to the silk scarf.

Gently lay the scarf down, over the design that has been created.  Whatever pattern is created in the gel is the pattern that will transfer to the fabric. 

 Blog scarves paint6

Gently lift the scarf from the solution after all areas have been covered.

One thing to keep in mind is that you must have a long enough bin to accommodate the length of whatever fabric you're marbling.  You can't shift the fabric or slide it around in the solution.  You must lay the fabric flat on top of the solution and wherever you lay it ,that's where it stays to absorb the marble pattern.

This bin wasn't quite long enough for this scarf, which is why the ends here did not recieve any marbling design. If this happens you can always trim the un-colored section, turn over @quarter inch, press and topstitch for a new scarf end. 

Note: The scarves used in this post are pretty short, they're the type of scarf you would use to tie your hair in a pony, or tie in a bow on a purse strap.  If you're going to marble a longer scarf, you'll definitely need an equally long bin for the solution. 

 Blog scarves paint7

After the solution has been applied to the scarf, wash gently but thoroughly under cool water.  Then, hang to dry.

Blog scarves sink

Here's a look at another design under construction.  I love how these pinks and greens flowed together. 

Blog scarves mosaic 
Once you get started this is a pretty easy technique.  Take your time and make sure you thoroughly read all instructions before staring and you'll have wonderful marbled designs in no time at all.


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Take a look at how pretty these finished scarves look hanging to dry.  Don't those swirls look fantastic?  

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Here's a close-up look at some of the pretty marbling.  

It's really fun to experiment with different paint color combinations.  You're never quite sure what design will be created until you actually create it on the surface of the marbling solution.

Blog scarves rack 

As I mentioned earlier, this technique can be applied to many different fabrics. 

Here's how Laurie's marbled effect looks on plain white twill ribbon strips that she cut.

I think you can see the possibilities for your own fabric projects and exclusive designs.  
Blog scarves ribbons

Huge thanks to Laurie Pyszkowski for spearheading this 1/2 day project.  This was really a very fun process for me to photograph and I'll definitely try marbling a few things myself.

I hope you pop by Laurie's blog, Painting on Silk to say hello or visit her Etsy shop for a closer look at her beautiful, hand-painted silk scarves. 

Blog scarves flat 

From time to time, I'll introduce you to other multi-talented, creative friends and share their how-to projects on this blog for you to enjoy and try for yourself.

Meanwhile, it's that time of year to start thinking about handmade holidays.  As you think about unique gift items this season, consider creating your own marvelous marbling.♥ 

  • CC

    I see there are comments as far back as 8 years ago, but I really loved the way you presented this article, and I love your website. I hope you’re still blogging.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Greetings, CC
      Yes, I’ve been blogging now for nearly 10 years.
      Time flies.
      Happy day to you and thanks for popping by for a visit to my blog.

  • Jeki15

    I wonder do you have to some how fix the paint on the scarf so it doesn’t fade out when you wash it?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      I’ll have to check on that. These scarves and this process were executed by a friend of mine.
      I’m not as familiar with the process myself.

  • JAYA ramanathan

    I love the scarves. But is it not impractical to have long troughs for scarves of usual length? even for this short bandana you found the trough inadequate, would you recommend a bath tub for longer fabrics? How easy/ tough is it to get the tub cleaned after marbling?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Hi Jaya, these scarves were made by my friend and she didn’t mind using the trough.
      I think she may have been concerned about putting the required chemicals in her bath tub so, I don’t know about how a tub would have to be cleaned.
      The color came off of the rubber tub just fine.
      As for the size of the trough, I guess it just depends on how large the scarf is that you’re using.
      My friend was able to marbelize her fabric fine in the smaller tub.
      Good luck with your project.

  • Shilpa Veerkar

    This is superb n I hv been wanting to something like this since long . I hv tried shibori tie n dye n marbling on paper but wish to do this on silk . Wd like to know where do you get this kit n as I hv inks n dye wd a marbling solution be available in the market . What does it content as a basic ingredient ?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Hi Shilpa, this marbeling was a project that was done by a friend.
      I think she found all her materials either online or at a local crafts store.
      Just “Google” marbeling inks and supplies and you should be able to find everything you need.
      Good luck with your project and have a wonderful day.

  • Maria Petti

    way cool!

  • Lynda

    I just came across your tutorial. I love to marble but haven’t tried it on silk yet. Don’t you need to alum the silk for the paint to stick? I know I do with paper and cotton. If you don’t, I’d love to know that. Thanks.

  • Isabel

    Beauuutiful! How do the colors look so bright? I have read many reviews of this kit saying that the colors turn out very light. So I’m surprised your colors are so bright. Do you add anything to the fabric?

  • Anonymous

    Love the different colors. 🙂

  • Sophia

    I like the scarves and the candle tutorial! There great!

  • sherry

    Gosh you make this marbleing technique look so doable. Your pieces are lovely. Happy weekend…

  • Amanda

    This is a great tutorial, thanks for taking the time. The colours are so beautiful

  • berta

    Beautiful!!!! Love all the fun color combos!!! Need to be on the look out for a really long bin to try longer scarves!! I will keep an eye out this holiday season since all the holiday storage stuff is out and about! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Adrienne


  • elenka

    Why does the scarf look so short when she’s holding it up out of the water? All my scarves would be way too long to color in that short bucket.

  • Thimbleanna

    Those are beautiful Lisa! It looks pretty too — very similar to marbling Easter eggs!

  • Anonymous

    This is the most awesome and useful idea that I have ever seen. I must say that you are very intelligent and that is why you have this idea. It is really very useful idea and it will help me a lot and I am sure that so many people have utilized this idea.

  • Staci

    Goodness woman!! Is there anything you can’t do?! You know I always marvel at your crafts, Lisa! TFS! 🙂

  • Julie Size

    Very Unique!

  • Kisha

    Lisa this is great! Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us. Now this is one (of many)of your projects I can’t wait to use on my ribbon. I purchased rolls and rolls of white ribbon and have been playing with it UNsuccessfully trying to dye it. This post is right on time. Thank you so much for your continued inspiration.

  • Laurel Harper

    O wow; beautiful! This has some definite possibilities for all cotton fabric for quilts!

  • Kim

    LOVE this idea and thanks for tutorial. I prob won’t make even tho would be GREAT gifts as I don’t really have room for such a project. :o(

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