Family Art Play @ Home: Paper Marbling

This fall, one project that has been super fun to do at the museum and really easy has been paper marbling with shaving cream. Hands on art making is a great way to connect to the artworks in exhibitions on view at the McNay. In the current exhibition Orientalism: The Middle East Onstage many of the very early books on costume design used marbled paper on the inside as an ornate form of paper decoration.

Auguste Racinet, Le Costume Historique, Volume 3, 1888. Gift of Robert L.B. Tobin.

Image: Auguste Racinet, Le Costume Historique, Volume 3, 1888. Gift of Robert L.B. Tobin. 

Adults have enjoyed this simple technique at ArtMaking for Adults and our youngest visitors have had fun with it too at Toddler Art Play, as it is a great sensory activity for little ones. Here’s how your family can try it at home:

For this project you will need:
-Shaving Cream
-Plastic lids/tray or baking sheets
-Popsicle sticks or skewers (we used chopsticks)
-Food color or liquid water color
-Thick paper (think unlined index cards, cardstock or watercolor paper)
-Butter knife or off-set spatula
-LOTS of paper towels

Step 1: Place a small amount of shaving cream on the plastic tray. Smooth it out with the knife. 

Step 2: Squeeze 2-3 drops of food coloring onto the shaving cream. Be careful not to mix too many colors, two or three work best so it doesn’t get too muddy. Use the chopstick to swirl the colors in a marbled pattern.

Step 3: Place the paper down on the swirled colors. Gently press it down.

Step 4:  Lift off the paper and use the butter knife to scrape off the excess shaving cream. This should leave your design printed onto the paper.

tep 5: Avoid the temptation to touch and let your project dry! You can use this paper as a starting place for other crafts, such as making a bookmark or to make a simple paper book, like we did at ArtMaking for Adults this fall.

Enjoy this project with your kids at home and visit us at the McNay to see more inspiring artwork or play at a program!