I went to an Ebru demonstration this afternoon at the Main Library. Ebru is the Turkish world for paper marbling (actually it means “clouds”), which is appropriate since this artform originated in the Middle East. The demonstration is part of the Poetic Voices of the Muslim World that the Library is hosting until April 27.
Since Sunnie and I have both done Western style marbling, we thought it would be great to see the traditional Turkish process that is more focused on creating pictures, particularly of flowers, rather than just patterns favored by the Western approach.
The demonstration was done by Fatma Yilmaz, a native of Turkey, who has been living in Jacksonville for the last couple of years. She’ll be returning to Turkey in three weeks, so we were lucky to see her.
Fatma has a decorative arts education and has been demonstrating and teaching Ebru since she graduated. She has had to update some of the materials she is using, since some of the traditional materials are difficult to obtain here and she also has a bit of her own slant on the traditional designs.
Like Western marbling, pigments are floated on water, thickened with either carrageenan or methylcellulose. Diluted paints are mixed with surfactants, traditionally ox gall was used, to control how the different colors spread on the surface of the carrageenan. She is very deliberate as to how she adds the drops of color.
What is interesting is that she doesn’t try to create the final space she ultimately wants, but rather creates circles with many concentric layers of paint and then manipulates these paint circle to the final shape with a thin stylus
After everything is in place she laid a sheet of paper on the surface and picked up the image, which was beautiful.
I was happy we went and saw another side of marbling.