Hands-On Heritage: Marbling Paper like Gustav Roedde

We’re kicking off B.C. Culture Days 2021 with a video on how to marble paper like Gustav Roedde!

In this video, volunteer Madeline Baldrey teaches us a simple and quick technique for marbling paper using easily found household items.

Gustav was one of Vancouver’s first bookbinders. As a German immigrant, Gustav brought with him the craft of marbling paper which he learned when training in Leipzig. Leipzig was recognized as one of the leading centers of book production in Germany in the 18-19th centuries, with a factory producing coloured and marbled papers as early as 1755. Gustav became famous for his hand-crafted books and bindings, and marbling technique. Real marble (the stone) has lines of colour flowing throughout the rock, and marbling is a technique that creates those same swirls of colour, only on paper. Marbled papers were used for the special end papers of a book.

For this activity you will need:

  1. A tray to hold liquid (we used a tin baking dish)
  2. Acrylic paints
  3. Liquid starch (to make your own, use 4 tablespoons of cornstarch to half a cup of water; add this to 6 cups of boiling water, allowing it to simmer for 2 minutes, and then let it fully cool)
  4. Skewers or a fine stick
  5. A tablecloth for your table
  6. Cups to hold watered-down paint
  7. Spoons for the paint
  8. Craft paper
  9. Parchment paper