Fluid Viscosity and Paper Marbling

Text by Gregory Phillipy, Curator of Education

What is viscosity?

Viscosity is the measurement of the rate at which liquids move.  Think of the thickness a fluid has:  Water is thin and syrup is thicker, so therefore syrup has a higher viscosity than water.  Some liquids can move very fast (water and milk) having a low viscosity and others are slower (dish soap and honey) having a high viscosity. 

Paper marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by applying high-viscosity liquid over low-viscosity liquid.   Taking advantage of the adage that, “oil and water do not mix,” this art form is based on controlling the flowing qualities of fluid movement.

Since the late 19th century, a boiled extract of the carrageenan-rich algae known as Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), has been employed to create the mucilaginous and highly viscous solution upon which the colored dyes and paints are applied. Today, many artists use carrageenan extracted from seaweed.   In recent years, a synthetic size made from methylcellulose, a common ingredient in instant wallpaper paste, is often used as a medium upon which to float acrylic and oil paints.  Some artists use ordinary shaving cream as a viscous medium.  The point is that these media will support a layer of higher viscosity liquid upon which to float colors for a design.

Colors made from pigments are mixed with a surfactant such as ox gall. Sometimes, oil or turpentine may be added to a color to achieve special effects.

The special tools of the trade are brushes, a deep tray, pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth.  It is believed to be invented in the thirteenth century Turkistan.  This decorative art then spread to China, India and Persia and Anatolia.  Turkish Ottoman calligraphers and artists used marbling to decorate books, imperial decrees, official correspondence and documents.  New forms and techniques were perfected in the process and Turkey remained the center of marbling for many centuries

This summer in July, Turkish artist Baki Cavlazolgu will teach at Children’s Art Camp at the TAMU University Art Galleries. 

TAMU Art Galleries Summer Art Camp 2013

For Children Ages 7 – 12

Cost: $50.00 per child – Registration limited to 20 students

Wednesday, July 24 – Friday July 26  1:00 – 4:00

Wednesday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 1:30 Registration/ check in: rules and introduction to the Art Galleries

1:30 – 2:30 Stained Glass/ Glassmaking Workshop:  Featuring Runyon Collections from the Forsyth Galleries. Campers learn about how stained glass is made and also about artistry as they create patterns for their own beautiful mosaic stained glass image! No glass cutting or soldering required.

2:30 – 3:00 snack time and games*

3:00 – 4:00 Frederick Remington and Western Storytelling Art

Thursday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Turkish Delight and the Art of Paper Marbling:  with Turkish Artist Baki Cavlazoglu learn the art of true paper marbling history and technique to make your own colorful designs from the traditions of Turkey.

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Tai Chi Fan:  Learn this ancient Chinese martial art celebrated as a healthy activity and as a visual performance art form using a traditional Chinese fan.  Taught by Dr. Suzanne Droleskey and sponsored by the Confucius Institute. 

Friday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Fun Photography:  with Gustavo Castillo: Campers will enjoy making photo techniques using wet plate and cyanotype styles of photography which do not require a camera.  We will also play games based on photography themes. 

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Mask Making: Become anyone (or anything) you want to be.  Make a mask that reflects your inner self.   Campers will explore the history and uses of mask from around the world.  We will use colored papers, tape, pipe cleaners and other materials to make our own masks.

*(Children bring snacks from home) Water and lemonade supplied by camp.  All art materials supplied at camp.

Payment:  Cash or check made out to University Art Galleries

Contact: Trudy Six

University Art Galleries, Texas A&M University




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