A Brief History of Marbling
The art of marbling, or "Ebru" as it is known in Turkey, dates back hundreds of years to the 10th century. Although no one knows exactly when or how marbling came into being, most scholars believe that it originated in Bukhara, Turkestan. From there, it spread along the trade routes to Persia, India, Anatolia, and later to France, Italy, and Holland.
In June of 1997, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Istanbul, joining other marblers from around the world. We visited sites where Ebru masters worked, and there studied many Ebru collections, both old and new, including the work of the recent Ebru master, Mustafa Duzgunman (1920-1990).
Originally, Ebru designs were abstract, but with practice and increased skill, floral designs began to appear. Necmeddin Okay (1883-1976) was the first marbler to create tulip, rose, jasmine, carnation and poppy flower patterns. Mustafa, his student, added a daisy pattern to Okay's marbled flower designs. Due to the work of these artists and others, such as Hikmet Barutcugil, this ancient art will live on.
Marbling has been enjoying a revival in Western Europe and in the U.S.A. recently. Marbling as "book art" almost became extinct during the industrial revolution, when it became too costly to use hand-made papers to bind books.
With the introduction of acrylic paints in the mid 1950's, new uses for marbling expanded, no longer relegated to book art exclusively. Today, I utilize this ancient method to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind fabrics, making even more people aware of marbling as an art form.
I believe that education about this unique artistic process will enable it to continue to evolve and develop further, thus preserving marbling from becoming a "lost art."