Welcome to Water Marbling

Welcome to the world of water marbling

Connect to the ancient world and start your water marbling journey! 

Watch this quick intro video!

Since the 12th-century cultures throughout Central and East Asia have marbled paper as a form of art, social connection, and cultural practice. By treating water with a medium you can then use specially formulated paints to drop, dip, and swirl otherworldly patterns directly onto the water’s surface.

After creating your pattern, simply dip your chosen substrate and pull it away to reveal your one-of-a-kind design.

When water marbling, no two designs will be alike, the surprise and unique quality of each design is part of the magic and mystique of this ancient art form! 

rainbow gelgit water marbling 

History of Water Marbling

Water marbling has been around for hundreds of years with roots in Japan, China, Turkey, and various other cultures. Two of the most popular forms of water marbling are the Japanese art of paper marbling called suminagashi and the Turkish art of ebru.


Suminagashi or “ink floating” is the ancient Japanese art of paper marbling believed to have originated around the 12th century.

Suminagashi paper is black and white and designed to closely resemble natural rock. These marbled papers were used in creating important documents, for book binding, or as decorative papers around the home.

The traditional suminagashi method uses an oily black ink. Artists would gently blow the ink across the surface of the water to create delicate swirly patterns. A calligraphy brush could also be used to dip ink into the water bath.

Today, modern suminagashi artists use acrylic paints in a variety of colors to create colorful patterns reminiscent of this ancient art form.


Ebru is the ancient Turkish art of water marbling that originated in the Ottoman Empire. Primarily used as an art form, Turkish paper was highly prized by other countries for its beauty and uniqueness.

Patience and a good knowledge of traditional culture are characteristic of ebru masters. Turkish marbled papers were often used to decorate books and for official correspondence. The uniqueness of each piece of marbled paper acted like a signature, helping to ensure a document’s authenticity.

Ebru artists use horsehair brushes and natural earth pigments to create these complicated and colorful patterns, and this ancient art form is still a prominent part of Turkish culture today. 

Water Marbling Today

Today you can still find ebru artists in Istanbul creating ornate floral patterns and artists in Japan making the calming swirls of suminagashi paper.

Water marbling has also extended to a variety of modern surfaces and purposes. You can find people marbling their nails, shoes, or even the rims of their car.

The art of water marbling is growing, and the only limit is your imagination.


marbled shoes 

How to Water Marble 


Mix DecoArt's Magic Medium with water (using the directions on the package) in your water basin. The Magic Medium is truly magical! It increases the density of the water to allow specially formulated Water Marbling Acrylics to float on the surface.




  • Select your colors 
  • Select a pattern you want to create ( see below!) or just free flow.
  • Lightly squeeze the bottle to let paint drops fall onto the water
  • Watch as the drops of color spread to create beautiful patterns and shapes.

rainbow gelgit water marbling 1

rainbow gelgit water marbling 2


When you are happy with the pattern you created, it is time to take a print!

You can use DecoArt's Water Marbling Paper or another surface or fabric. Some surfaces perform better than others. We recommend reading our blog for more detailed information on what can be water marbled for best results.

rainbow gelgit water marbling 3



 There are many traditional techniques used in water marbling. You can choose to start with one of these techniques or just jump in. Either way, and enjoy the journey!


When paint is dropped gently onto the size and allowed to expand it will often form a circle, which is called the stone. When multiple stones are created this is referred to as the stone pattern. The stone pattern is the foundation for many water marbling patterns.

Drop drop paint onto the water in drops and watch it spread to form circle "stones". Continue to place drops within existing stones to create layers of color. 

You can also place the paint on a paint brush and flick it onto the water. This is called  “throwing stones.”



The gelgit pattern is the starting point for many water marbling patterns. The term “gelgit” translates to “come and go” in Turkish and this pattern is also called the back and forth or zigzag pattern.

To create a gelgit pattern, follow the steps below.

  • Create a stone pattern.
  • Draw parallel lines up and down through the water marbling bath using a stylus (water marbling stick) to create a zigzag pattern.

After creating the gelgit pattern, you can flick dots of white paint onto the surface to create the antique straight pattern. This technique adds interest to the simple gelgit



The arches pattern is a basic pattern that uses a Water Marbling Rake, also called a “wide comb”. A rake is a wooden tool with widely set pins affixed to it that can be drawn through the water to create pattern.

Here's how to use it to create the arches pattern:

  • Start by creating a stone pattern as your base.
  • Create a gelgit pattern over the stones.
  • Draw the rake through the gelgit pattern one time in the opposite direction from where you made the gelgit. Meaning you pull the rake down directly through the zigzags.  
  • If you wish to make your arches smaller, draw the rake through a second time down the middle of your arches to cut them in half.



Nonpareil is a French word that translated means ‘matchless’ or ‘unrivaled.’ This lovely name reflects the beauty of this gorgeous pattern. The nonpareil pattern sets up the foundation for other complex patterns, such as the peacock. To create this pattern use a water marbling comb instead of the rake used for the arches pattern. A comb has closely set pins which creates smaller arches than the rake.

  • Start by creating a stone pattern as a base.
  • Create a gelgit pattern over the stones.
  • Draw the comb through the gelgit pattern one time in the opposite direction from where you made the gelgit. Meaning you pull the comb down directly through the zigzags.  


  • A more imaginative marbling pattern, the flower pattern refers to the use of marbling sticks to manipulate the paint to resemble a flower.
  • Start by dripping a single drop of paint onto the water. Dip the marbling stick into the water outside of the circle, drag gently towards the middle of the circle and remove the stick.
  • Wipe the stick with a paper towel and repeat until you have your desired number of petals.
  • Marbling sticks can be used like this to create a variety of shapes, such as hearts, flowers, fish, and more. Experiment and see what you can create.


  • Clean tools and trays with water only.
  • DO NOT USE SOAP. Soap can leave a residue that creates a resistance to the process.
  • DecoArt Marbling Magic Medium and water solution can be poured safely down the drain.

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