Process and Material
TURKISH EBRU MARBLING is a surface print made by floating pigment atop a viscous liquid. Patterns are formed as the ink spreads across the surface of the liquid and can be manipulated with fans, feathers & combs. The marbleized pattern is captured by carefully floating paper or fabric on the liquid surface, absorbing the ink into its fibers.
It is thought that marbling was discovered by accident in China, but the first record of marbling is from 12th Century Japan “ink floating” or Suminagashi used by Shinto priests to write prayers & later becoming popular with the royal court. It wasn’t until the 16th Century that new variations of marbling spread westward in Turkey & Persia, during the Ottoman Empire called Ebru or “cloud art” by thickening the water to float heavier oil and gouache paints. In the 17th century the art of marbling was practiced in other parts of Europe including England, Holland, Germany, France & Italy.
Ripley’s process is based in the Turkish Ebru tradition, but instead of using the plant-based gum Tragacanth to thicken the water, Carrageenan is used to float high quality acrylic pigment. Carrageenan is derived from Irish Moss seaweed grown on the coast of Maine & Oregon. Each print of fabric is a unique monoprint, and although possible to replicate color-ways, impossible to identically mimic one yard to the next.
What’s unique about Ripley’s practice is the use heavier weight fabric for upholstery & large scale of the marbled prints. Each print or piece of marbled fabric measures 60” wide x 2-4yards long. Printing in segments for a total of 60-90 yards each run. The vat holds 37-40 gallons of liquid carrageenan.