How to make your own marbling ink

Written by amanda flocke
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How to make your own marbling ink
Save money by making your own mableizing ink. (marble paper texture image by Dmitry Rukhlenko from

Beautiful hand-marbleised paper is often used in bookmaking or other paper crafts. The marbling pigments sold by most arts-and-crafts suppliers can be quite expensive and are not always readily available. Instead, follow these instructions to make your own inks with old oil paints, that can be used to create elegant marbleised papers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old oil paints
  • Turpentine
  • Newspaper
  • Glass or ceramic bowl
  • Scissors
  • Fork
  • Palette knife
  • Scrap paper
  • Paintbrush
  • Glass jars with secure lids
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Collect old oil paints for the ink. Almost empty paint tubes, small pieces of oil sticks and dried globules of paint on palettes work very well.

    How to make your own marbling ink
    Save old paints to make ink. (farbtuben - künstlerfarben - oilfarbe - acrylfarbe image by fuxart from
  2. 2

    Select a well-ventilated area with a sturdy, level table or bench for your workspace. A studio with a large work surface is ideal; however, a carport and folding table are more than adequate. Cover all exposed surfaces with newspaper.

  3. 3

    Wearing surgical gloves, prepare the oil pigments in a ceramic bowl. Use scissors to cut the ends off old paint tubes and to remove the labels from oil sticks. Use a fork to grind the paint solids into a thick paste. Mix colours to achieve the desired hue.

  4. 4

    Add one to two capfuls of turpentine to the oil paste. With the palette knife, stir the mixture until it is smooth and lump free. Add more turpentine to dissolve stubborn bits of pigment.

    How to make your own marbling ink
    Stir mixture well. (paint tools image by stassad from
  5. 5

    Paint a small area of the scrap paper to test the ink's consistency. This should produce a semitransparent colour. If the ink is too opaque, add more turpentine to the mixture. Add more pigment to create a richer colour.

    How to make your own marbling ink
    The ink should be semitransparent when painted on paper. (brush stroke image by Sirena Designs from
  6. 6

    Carefully transfer the mixture to a glass jar with a well-fitting lid. Use masking tape and a fine-tipped permanent marker to label and date the container. These inks have a virtually unlimited shelf life.

    How to make your own marbling ink
    Store your ink in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. (bottle of ink image by Alfonso d"Agostino from

Tips and warnings

  • Tape a piece of the colour test paper to the top of the ink jar for a quick reference.
  • For a cheap alternative to oil paint, try using a cattle marker. Most feed stores keep several colours in stock.
  • Linseed oil or white spirit are an alternative to turpentine.
  • Always handle turpentine with care. It is flammable and produces hazardous fumes.
  • To avoid muddy colours, clean all supplies with turpentine before mixing a new colour of ink.

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