oil & water marbling

you may recall that last summer N and i had so much fun marbling paper with shaving cream, and we got beauoootiful results! after recently hearing from a friend that her daughter marbled paper in preschool with oil and water, i decided we should give this method a try.

science: oil and water don't mix

i looked online to figure out how to go about this project, and found this little ditty. so we tried it their way, by mixing one color of paint with water and the other color with oil. however, they used tempera paints and we used liquid watercolors (as i believe my friend’s teacher had.) we got unsuccessful results at first using the instructions because, well, oil and water(colors) don’t mix. see? one of the colors so wasn’t happening.

so then we tried another way. we laid the paper on cookie sheets (the kind with edges) and drizzled oil onto the paper haphazardly. then we poured on pink liquid watercolors (diluted in water) and rolled it around. then some more oil. then blue liquid watercolors (diluted) and rolled the tray around. sometimes we used the eyedropper to drop blotches of undiluted color onto the paper for a vibrant effect, too.

and then we got marbling…

it was fun to see the effects on different colors of papers. the swirls weren’t as defined as the shaving cream method, but random and lovely nonetheless. we hung the sheets to drip dry in the garage overnight.

the next morning, N was pleased with her results…

as was i… the paper made for cute stationery for a little note to a friend.



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  • That’s a really cool idea. I do think we’ll try the shaving cream first. Thanks, karen
    Sippy Cup Central Mom

  • jen

    i’d highly recommend the shaving cream over the oil method, though i had a friend write today to say that we’d get more vibrant results with this if we dipped the paper into just an oil and water mixture, then add the liquid watercolors to the wet page with a dropper. try that, too, perhaps?

  • I’m ashamed to say that I have never done marbeling of any kind with my girls. I think we will try both methods you mentioned soon! Thanks!

  • mrs jones

    did the paper come out oily?

  • jen

    not at all. oddly enough, it dried totally normal. it doesn’t resist markers when written on, either.